As you probably know, at Furnish & Fettle, we love to use independent suppliers when we can. One of our suppliers whose artwork is going down a storm at the moment is ‘FabFunky’. Here, in our latest ‘F&F Supplier Spotlight’, Kelly Stevens, the artist behind FabFunky, gives us a fascinating insight into her rediscovered talent for art and the secrets behind her inspiration. We have a great selection of FabFunky prints in our Harrogate and Wetherby showrooms – so please pop in.
“I do dogs in hats”
A conventional beginning…
When I get asked “Have you drawn all of your life?” my husband likes to jump in with “No, she got a hit on the head in her mid forties and started then”. It’s actually not that far from the truth.
Yes I did draw and paint when I was young and all the way through school, and of course I failed my Art ‘O’ level in spectacular style. But whilst I did dream of making a career doing something creative, it just never seemed to be a real option open to me at that time. So I shelved those ideas at 17 and got on at applying for jobs that were much more conventional.
The birth of FabFunky…
Then fast forward to Christmas 2012 and the few days in between Christmas and New Year, and at the time I was 45 and there was nothing much on TV. So I drew a fox in a suit and showed Gordon my husband who had never seen me draw anything. He raised an eyebrow and asked “Where did that come from?”
That was where it all started and it was like the opening of a floodgate. And here we are four and half years later and I have just over 2200 pictures in my portfolio and I have a new career as an artist. Thirty five years late, but I got here!
When people find out that I’m an artist they normally ask what kind of art I do. I’m sure they expect an answer using words such as ‘impressionistic’, ‘post modernist’, ‘visualisation’, ‘non traditional context’ and so on. But generally I just reply “I do dogs in hats”. And whilst that’s a very simplistic way of describing what I do I must confess that I do like a dog in a nice hat. And a cat in a hat. Or a deer in a suit. Or a fox in a smart looking jacket.
I think this comes from always living with a collection of dogs (we have four at the moment), and probably spending too much time attributing human characteristics to their behaviour, that they probably don’t really have.
I love the idea that they are only acting like dogs to fulfil our expectations, but that when we are out of the way they suddenly take on much more human traits. So when we leave the house, one is on lookout and shouts back to the others “It’s OK, they’ve gone”, and they all whip out of their beds and start behaving in a much more human way, only to jump back into bed and wag their tales upon our return. And so in this fantasy world, it’s not too far fetched to imagine that they might wear hats is it?
When it comes to traditional British woodland animals I often find that I’m drawn to presenting them in some kind of Regency or Georgian style. I like to try to give my deer and stag a slight arrogance, reminiscent of Mr D’Arcy from Pride and Prejudice. And my foxes are often quite Edwardian or Victorian in style.
Normally it’s the drawing of the animal that comes first and then depending on the expression that I see in their faces I decide what I’m going to do with them. Do they need a silly hat or something more sophisticated? Would a posh frock suit them more? What about sticking them on a bicycle?
But sometimes I see or hear something as I’m just getting on with my day, and it can be a tiny detail, but it sparks a thought for a picture and I scribble down a note and usually let the idea grow for a while. It can be a long time before I go back to that and actually turn it into a picture, and sometimes by then the idea has grown in a very different direction from where it started and the final picture is nothing like I thought it would be.
My obsession with old books…
I print many of my images onto antique book pages. This comes from a life long association with old books started by my Dad who was the ultimate hoarder and who worked in a paper mill. Strange and unusual documents and old books that were thrown away would catch his eye, and he would bring small treasures home every now and then. I still have some of them now.
The books I use are generally reference books dating from the early 1800’s and so these pages are nearly 200 years old. Of course now they are massively out of date and so many of them would be discarded, as these are not the type of books that people normally collect. But I love the idea that these pages have a new lease of life and that the authors work lives on.
Sometimes we find pages with little notes and annotations written in pencil in the margins, usually in a careful and precise manner very indicative of Victorian writing styles. We always try to use those pages because in my eyes it is an authentic part of the history of the page and book, and brings it to life just a little more.
I’m ridiculously emotionally attached to my characters and images. I remember drawing most of them. I remember what was on the TV in the background and silly details like that. Most of them I consider to be my friends, in a sort of I-promise-you-that-I’m-normal-really, kind of way.
And if you’re really lucky you might catch one of my foxes looking at his pocket-watch. But they normally do that when you’re not around I’m afraid.