Making a living as an artist in London isn’t easy. It is however, something that Izzy Freeman is succeeding at. From first meeting her at university to catching up this week in a North London coffee shop, Izzy has grown into an accomplished print maker. Working under the name Somehownow Studio, Izzy produces all her art from her modest handmade desk in her Wood Green bedroom. Chatting over coffee, we spoke about everything from her inspirations to her thirst for natural life. Extend your attention for just a moment and you’ll be inspired by Izzy’s work – I know I have.
It’s clear to anyone looking at Izzy’s work that her biggest inspiration is nature. The collection of RSPB badges which adorn the chest pockets of her denim jacket are a stark giveaway too. “I’m inspired by where I’d like to be, where I’d like to end up. The countryside and sea is where I’d like to live. I daydream about it.”
She went on to explain that the inspiration for her prints don’t just appear out of thin air. “When I was at university, I lost touch with my creativity. I was surrounded by academics. Since, I’ve tried to surround myself with as many creative people as possible. I have to find my own inspiration, it doesn’t just come. I’ll go out to a pond and see a kingfisher. I’ll think ‘I forgot I love that, maybe I should make that’. Sometimes it’s so simple, so innocent”.
Green Space in London
Obviously living in London can be difficult for someone with such a thirst for nature. When the topic of green space in London came up, Izzy frowned and explained her feelings on the issue: “Green space in London just feels too man-made, it’s upsetting. It’s like Hampstead Heath, it’s lovely but everything’s too manicured. You get this don’t walk on the grass feeling”.
Trial & Error
From her inspirations to her work itself, Izzy explained to me how she learnt her craft. She’s a testament to self-taught artists. She’s always had an interest in art, she even studied it up to AS level but didn’t really enjoy the course. She taught herself how to create prints simply by Googling the technique and seeking inspiration from other artists on Instagram. Everything she does has come from simple trial and error. “The first stamp I made was disgusting, it was like a child had made it. I was impressed with it though because I had done it myself. The second turned out infinitely better”.
“My favourite print has to be the chameleons. They were an ambitious plan and it didn’t really work out the first time but when it came together I was so proud of myself. I just played around with it. I really like how every single one is different, even though they’re made the same way each one is unique.”
The chameleon prints also happen to be one of Izzy’s most sought after pieces of work. It’s no surprise when looking at one in person. The way the different colours merge together is mesmerising.
The Creative Process
I wanted to get to know a little bit more about the creative process and how Izzy comes up with the ideas for her work. “It all starts with a sketch. I do a little Googling for inspiration. I also have a big bird book which is basically my bible. I’m not great at drawing without inspiration.”
“I then trace it, and press really hard onto the rubber or lino I want to use to get a reverse image. I carve it out which doesn’t take too long actually. I always do the outside first, go round the outline and then do the detail. I tap it on the inkpads to see where I need to work over and tidy up.”
“Then I print it which takes a lot of pushing, I’m getting some serious arm muscles. Sometimes I’ll print it and then be like ‘wow no!’ I’ve missed something. Generally, it’s a simple process which I like. I enjoy doing the chameleon though because it’s like a jigsaw puzzle with its separate parts – you build it up as you go.”
I wanted to get to the bottom of where the inspiration for Izzy’s studio name came from. “I thought to myself, I kind of have to do this somehow, maybe now. You have to do this now, you have to do this somehow otherwise I would put it off. So Somehownow Studio just worked. There were some awful names that came to me. I was thinking about a play on my name, maybe something like Freeprints Studio but that just gave the wrong idea.”
Motivation to Keep Going
I’ve spoken to plenty of talented people over the years and they all have interesting and personal motivations behind the scenes that keep them going during the tough times. It’s all too easy to just give up, so I wanted to know what gives Izzy the motivation to carry on?
“I have a very supportive boyfriend, he’s very proud and encouraging. Very good at saying, if it’s not going to happen today leave it and come back tomorrow. If it’s not working, then it’s just not working. I can sit for hours and struggle. I also find the Instagram community really supportive, I get lots of nice comments. People offer inspiration and advice. They’re on a similar journey so they help.”
Izzy doesn’t only talk the talk when it comes to her love of nature, she backs it up with her actions too. In fact, she’s begun the long process of going green with the production of her prints. “It’s not something I could do overnight, there are so many ways you can be more environmentally friendly. You’re always using something you shouldn’t be.”
“Anyone can do a print on paper, this adds something to it. There’s something more alive to it. I would rather buy something environmentally friendly than plastic – it feels right. Why make something inspired by the world and not have them more earthly? I’ve recently discovered this paper which has wildflower and seeds in it, it actually plants a flower. It’s so cool, I’m thinking of making little gift tags with it.”
I could talk for hours with Izzy about her work! She really is an inspiration. She’s also one of the most genuine people I’ve met. She doesn’t go green just to shout about it and she doesn’t invest in the pretentious. Instead she makes a modest living by offering the world a few creations which she enjoys making. I definitely get the feeling that Izzy would continue her print work even if it wasn’t a venture that would make her money. It’s a hobby first, business second.
I seriously recommend checking out Izzy’s Etsy store here and ordering up some work. Handmade, environmentally friendly, reasonably priced and designed with care, what more could you ask for?
You can also follow Izzy on Instagram here.
All images courtesy of Izzy Freeman, Somehownow Studio.