Illustrator Flora Waycott on how her designs are inspired by nature, her travels and her home.
Living around the globe and immersing herself in different cultures has inspired Flora Waycott’s sweet and beautiful illustrations, which have graced everything from ceramics to stationery and even the pages and gifts of Mollie Makes! Issue 115 features Flora’s gorgeous kitten keyring gift kit design which you’re definitely going to want to buy (pick up a copy here).
The UK born designer recently swapped living in New Zealand for the sunshine of Sydney, Australia and plans to embrace the local nature flora and fauna in her new work, but she admits it was her childhood in Japan that shaped the way she works. We caught up with Flora to take a peek in her sketchbook…
Hi Flora, can you introduce yourself to the readers?
Hi, I’m Flora Waycott! I work as a freelance illustrator/designer and creating illustrations for stationery, children’s bedding and decor, colouring books, editorial, toys and more. I’ve loved drawing, making and sewing things with my Mum since I was little. I worked as a textile designer in London for two years, which gave me a wonderful grounding for working with patterns and colour, as well as using processes like screen printing, dyeing and embroidery. Spending my days drawing and painting makes me happy.
Describe your workspace and why it works for you?
I have just set up my new workspace and am slowly getting used to it! I live in a cute open plan apartment with my desk set up by the large French doors, which look out on to a courtyard. All of my drawing, painting and digital work are done in my apartment. I love to get out and about for drawing – it can be lonely sitting in a house by yourself all day – so I like to take my sketchbook to a park or a cafe to draw too. I always stop to cook dinner, but I occasionally work into the evening and some of my best work can happen at 3am!
What’s the first thing you ever drew for someone else?
When I was 12, my Dad was writing a monthly gardening column for a newspaper in Japan and he asked me to be the illustrator. I was paid £5 per illustration!
How did growing up in Japan inspire your work?
My mother is Japanese and my father is English. We went to live in Japan when I was six and stayed for five years. It was an amazing experience especially spending time at my grandparents’ home in Niigata and being exposed to the culture, food, colours, patterns and people. At school I would spend break times with my friends drawing in our sketchbooks, swapping stickers or making crafts and origami together, which really shaped my love of creativity.
Japanese people take care and time over things and have great attention to detail, no matter what they are doing. I like to approach my work in this way too. If you are going to do something take time to make it as beautiful as it can be. I love going back to Japan every year to visit my sister who lives in Tokyo. There is always something interesting to see and a gentle quality to the Japanese designs that I love.
You’re originally from the UK, but now live in Australia, what inspired you to move and how does where you live affect your work?
Before moving to Sydney last month I lived in Wellington, New Zealand for eight years. I had lived in the UK for most of my life, but my boyfriend and I really wanted a change and decided to make the move. In New Zealand lived a 10-minute walk from the sea in a gorgeous peaceful suburb with lots of nature around, so I had a lot of interesting things to draw all the time. We decided to move to Sydney as it was time for a change and here we are back living in a big city. I’m looking forward to embracing what this experience will offer.
What’s your favourite thing to draw and why?
I like to draw everyday objects. There are always new shapes to be found. I also love drawing plants. I really do live up to my name! Nature always amazes me – it’s endlessly inspiring.
What other crafts or making do you do when not drawing or painting?
I have a huge box of fabrics and thread for sewing projects, with many unfinished projects in the box! I love to screen print and I miss my garage in New Zealand where I was able to do it whenever I wanted. One of my biggest passions is weaving. Until recently I was teaching at Massey University in Wellington too. Plus I love making origami and collect new papers whenever I go back to Japan.
What’s in your sketchbook at the moment?
Lots of line drawings of things around my home! I find it good practice to draw whatever I see around me. Sometimes I can be a bit precious with my sketchbook, so I keep a notebook too so I can be a bit messier. I plan to take my sketchbook to the botanical gardens soon to get some fresh inspiration!
What would you be doing if you weren’t an illustrator?
I’d be working with plants or food. I love the idea of owning a little tea shop using my home-grown vegetables and selling herbs. Maybe it could feature a selection of work from local artists too. That would be the dream!