Q&A with Caroline Kent - Scribble and Daub
We had a little chat with the lovely Caroline Kent about life, art and her beautiful stationary brand Scribble and Daub.
Prior to Scribble & Daub, I studied Social Anthropolgy at Edinburgh University (qualifies you for everything and nothing!) and then spent the best part of a decade in Scotland working in the contemporary art world, representing artists and organising exhibitions. After a year travelling in the Americas supported by a curatorial research grant, my husband and I moved to our cottage in East Sussex, and had our first child. And a short time after Arlo arrived, Scribble & Daub was born.
Always. I often say that if my seven year old self could see me now, she would be amazed and delighted to know that her favourite thing has become her career.
I aspire to be! However, with three small children and a business to run, aspiration and reality don't always collide... The two people I still regularly send letters to are my 92 year old grandfather, and a dear friend who lives in Berlin. My memory is terrible, so raher than be punctilious about sending birthday cards, I'll post notes or small, beautifully wrapped presents at random moments throughout the year as I find something or think of someone, and hopefully the element of surprise makes it feel more special, and compensates for my organisational failings. As a child I was strictly 'encouraged' to write thank you letters and I'm very grateful that my mother forced that particular habit on me. I now inflict the same on my children, but try to make it fun by keeping blank cards in their art cupboard and letting them paint their own. I'd like to write a children's book one day about the art of correspondence, with projects inspired by artists who have used the postal system in their work.
My process is intentionally quite simple, and I love the creative freedom that comes with that. I always use a traditional dip pen to create my scribbles, and then daub with Dr Ph Martins inks – they come in lovely glass bottles with droppers, Andy Warhol used them to create his commercial illustrations in the 1950s (which I love) and they are wonderfully vivid colours.
Typically greetings cards can tend towards the cutesy and naff, Scribble & Daub aims for the other end of the spectrum. Many of my clients are from the art, fashion or interiors worlds and I have always designed with that aesthetically sophisticated customer in mind. Those three worlds have been enduring obsessions my whole life, so it's really exciting to find myself at a point where they are coming together.
I really enjoy working with clients, both private individuals and brands, and as you say, am fortunate to have worked with some pretty incredible ones. Each project brings a new challenge, and it is sometimes nice to be told what to do, as within your own work anything is possible and that can be both liberating but also overwhelming at times.
Right now, my 2 month old baby, Rey smiling back at me.
My husband has recently become more involved with the business and has a love for spreadsheets that I will never fathom but for which I am eternally grateful. Laura, an illustrator in her own right, is my indispensible studio manager who somehow keeps everything running smoothly despite only working two days a week. I am currently on maternity leave, but ordinarily I work 2-3 days a week in the studio, plus any other time I can salvage from the wreckage of family life! A typical day – such as there is one - starts after dropping the kids at school, making coffee, checking emails and daydreaming out of the studio window at the meadow beyond. That may or may not lead to a spot of procrastination-gardening! I am not a morning person so it's often a slow start, but after lunch, if I have a particular project or deadline I can get lost in that for hours.
An impossible question! I love the work of photographer Francesca Woodman and conceptual artist Ceal Floyer. Perhaps unsuprisingly, I am drawn to artists who use post in their work. Two particular favourites being the late Ian Hamilton Finlay, famous for his Scottish garden, Little Sparta, who also created an extraordinary archive of hundreds of limited edition postcards – he was essentially a hermit for much of his life so that was his way of communicating with the world. The other is Peter Liversidge who will put stamps on pretty much anything and stick it in the post – fishing floats, fake fruit, rulers, rolling pins, mops and brushes, and much besides. It's quite fun to see a stamped pear appear on your doormat! If I had to choose just one, then my favourite artwork would have to be an incredible pencil drawing of wildflowers that looks like a black and white photograph given to me by Richard Forster after I curated his first exhibition in Scotland.
We live on the unfashionable side of Sussex, much closer to Hastings than Brighton, and we love it here. My favourite restaurant is Farmyard https://farmyardwine.com in St Leonards on Sea, where Scribble & Daub will be having our Christmas party later this year! To my mind the best garden in the world, Great Dixter, is just down the road at Northiam, and Camber Sands' vast beach and dunes are a short drive beyond the historic town of Rye, where you can visit Adams, a brilliantly old-fashioned stationery and toy shop on the High Street that is also home to the wonderful letterpress workshop that prints all our cards. Further afield is Charleston, historic home of Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell & Duncan Grant, who painted every available surface with beautifully coloured patterns, and nearby is the ancient village of Alfriston, where you will find vintage treasure trove, Emmett & White http://emmettandwhite.com