Clover Robin on how her travels inspire her collage designs and why she has more adhesives than you can shake a stick at…
Collage artist and designer Clover Robin may be based in leafy Greenwich, but it’s her childhood in “glorious Devon” that first inspired her love of nature, which forms the basis of her beautiful collages.
After spending her youth exploring the stunning coastline and dramatic moorlands of the south west of England, Clover moved to London to study Textiles Futures at Central Saint Martins, which reaffirmed her love for a craft-based approach to pattern design and illustration, which inspires her vibrant prints and collages. We caught up with Clover (and her cat Winnie) in her studio to take a peek in her collage kit and find out how a recent road trip across America has inspired her work…
Hi Clover, what’s your process for making a collage?
I like to research the subject matter as much as possible and then sketch it out as I go along using different shaped, coloured, and textured paper. I’ve always liked collage the best because you can move bits around and play with the picture, building it up a bit like a sculpture. Most of the time I end up with lot of wonderful accidents and new methods to put into other artworks.
What’s in your collage kit?
A couple of pairs of little scissors, gouache and acrylic paints, good quality PVA and acid-free glue sticks. I also love Faber-Castell coloured pencils because they’re nice and soft and have a rich, luxurious colour – the mossy greens are my favourite. Good quality paint brushes are also a must for hand painting, unique colour combinations and tonal depth.
Can you describe your workspace and why it works for you?
It’s disorganised organisation! I work from home, so while the rest of my house could be in complete chaos I do try to keep a bit of control over my desk. The walls are usually covered in collaged colour experiments and current works in progress. I have pots and pots of coloured pencils and more adhesives than you can shake a stick at! I love to get out and about too. I’m pretty much at my happiest when I’m working in my sketchbook and looking directly at the scene or subject I’m creating.
How do you split up your working day?
It starts with a massive cup of tea and prepping collage papers for any projects I may be working on. Most of my collage materials are hand painted scraps of newspaper and tissue. I love the process of colour matching and creating the textual elements that make up an artwork. While that dries I set up my workspace with relevant inspiration and working sketches (which I rarely do) and check any emails and admin stuff – this can be a bit of a rabbit hole so I try and keep this to a strict 30 minutes – then the crafting continues! I do 99 per cent of my work by hand and use digital applications to clean up any glue spots or to play with compositions. I don’t tend to work to strict hours as once I get going it’s difficult to stop, but I like to make sure I’ve got something crafty in my hand by 9am.
We love the snaps you share on Instagram of your sketchbook, what’s in it at the moment?
Currently I’m working to a lot of specific briefs so my sketchbook is where I work on my own ideas and doodles. I’ve recently returned from a road trip travelling down the west coast of America so its choc full of illustrations of enormous redwoods, beautiful lakes and hundreds of trees!
Where is your next adventure going to be?
I’m hoping it will be a trip around the Nordic countries, but with so many different stunning landscapes and natural wonders between them I may never come back.
Where else do you find inspiration?
I’ve had a love affair with Cornwall since I was tiny. Not only is filled with nostalgic family holiday memories and the most incredible scenery – it’s also overflowing with creativity and inspiration. Barbara Hepworth’s reconstructed studio in St Ives, is a perfect example. While I love the hustle and bustle of living in London I hope to find myself nestled into something similar one day. As well the countryside, the seaside, local gardens and plants, I love beautifully illustrated children’s books and old botanical drawings. I could spend hours at The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens.
Who are your favourite makers?
I love the simplicity and vibrancy of 60’s and 70’s illustration. Paul Rand and Charlie Harper are two of my favourites, as well as Ellsworth Kelly’s drawings and John Pipers mixed media paintings and collages. I’m a massive fan of Deborah Bowness and her stunning wallpapers too and hope to cover my walls in them one day.
What does making mean to you?
Making and collaging is absolutely my favourite thing to do. I do it everyday, sometimes for work, but always for pleasure and I feel extremely fortunate that its something I get to spend more and more time on.