In conversation with Kate Fishenden & Jonathan Mercer

Popular artist-designers Kate Fishenden & Jonathan Mercer run a small studio in West London – Starch Green.  Their focus is on hand-made design and, from the recent collection of works we’ve framed for sale at Picture, this certainly comes across. We spoke with the duo about their work and all things West London in our latest Q&A…

How long have you lived in the area and what do you like about it? 

We have lived in Shepherds Bush since 1984 – 34 years. We love the lively, multi-cultural atmosphere, the creative vibe especially from having the BBC located here for many years and the green spaces – we live near Ravenscourt Park. It’s also been great for our five kids – a lovely place to grow up, good schools and once they were older great access to all of London – we especially love the 94 bus route.

ERYNGIUM, DELPHINIUM, EUPHORBIA limited edition Kate Fishenden print, framed in white beveled moulding with truvue UV protective glass – £425

 

You describe yourselves and your work with the categories of “artist – designer – thinker”  – how do you see the connection between these identities and skills? 

We’re both trained as designers – and so have a natural tendency to research, analyse and discuss ideas whenever we are working. We love visual arts, drawing, making and printing – we combine the intellectual and the practical in our practice – enjoying the ideas behind things as well as the smell of ink, the feel of paper, colour, texture and composition.

What / who inspires you and your work? 

Jonathan’s initial foray into wood engraving many years ago was very much inspired by Eric Ravilious – an artist designer working during the thirties and sadly killed during the war in 1942. His work across wood engraving, illustration, painting and ceramics still inspires us. We are also inspired by the band of contemporary artists who also take inspiration from the likes of Ravilious, Edward Bawden, Barnett Freedman, John Nash and mid-century arts and design. We particularly love the lithographic School Prints.

HYACINTHS & TULIPS limited edition Kate Fishenden print, framed in white beveled moulding with truvue UV protective glass – £425

 

Can you describe your collaborative process? How do you develop ideas together for your brand Starch Green? 

We are constantly bubbling with ideas that we bounce around and scribble down – sometimes things gel and we actually pin something down and get on with it! We have lots of lists and pipelines. Often we take turns in pushing an idea along and testing it on each other. We act as each other’s mentor, bouncing board, critic, supporter, admirer…

NATURE STUDY – AUTUMN limited edition Kate Fishenden print laid onto acid free off white mount board in a bevelled, hand finished, clear waxed oak frame – £365

 

SNAPDRAGON & DELPHINIUM limited edition Kate Fishenden print, framed in white beveled moulding with truvue UV protective glass – £425

 

What are the differences between making commercial and fine art? Do you have a preference?  

We like the freedom of just creating what we like – call that fine art if you wish! Both being designers by training we are quite happy answering briefs and working with a modicom of rigour. We particularly like creating things that have a use – which is why we enjoy applying our designs to ceramics. Do we have a preference? Well really we like a healthy mixture.

PURPLE SPRING limited edition Kate Fishenden print, framed in white beveled moulding with truvue UV protective glass – £425

 

THE STUFF THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF  limited edition Jonathan Mercer print, framed in off-white/grey frame – £295

 

On your website you state that your focus is on “balancing home and work and creating a feeling of well-being”. How do you balance your personal and professional relationship together?

We have one relationship – we met at work and we’ve always shared our love of graphic arts – so we don’t really split the personal and professional much. One of our most important ambitions has been to create a home – a home that vibrates with creative energy and encourages our kids to do what they love. Working at home encourages the blend of home and work life – holidays are a mix of visiting interesting places, drawing, looking, playing – we’ve just come back from Cornwall where we very much enjoyed kayaking along the Fowey river.

 

ATOMIC – Jonathan Mercer limited edition Jonathan Mercer print, framed in off-white/orange frame – £365

 

And finally, what advice would you give to younger artists trying to make a career in this industry? 

Go to art school – Foundation first – then pursue what you love and make connections. Never miss out on an opportunity to meet someone.

All prints are now available framed at our gallery. You can also see more of Kate & Jonathans work via their website.