Illustrator Rebecca Lea Williams talks creativity and shares her London studio
It’s so lovely to be interviewing the wonderful Rebecca who is an artist and illustrator. Post having her son Rebecca set up her own brand Rebsville, selling stunning prints, cards and lots more. Rebecca’s designs reflect her own passions in life, which include food, travel and learning.
Rebecca’s prints are featured in our own home and I have been sending her beautiful cards to my mum and mother in law during lockdown! I’m a fan!
Rebecca works from her London studio and lives with her son and husband.
Please could you tell us a bit about yourself and how your brand started?
It’s an unconventional route in that I never went to Art School and never thought I would become a professional artist! Art was always a passion, but I was put off by my Artist-turned-Art-Teacher parents. I studied English at University and spent my 20s temping, running bars and restaurants and teaching at a primary school. Then in my early 30s, I bumped into an old friend in a cafe… his sister happened to be a magazine editor looking for an illustrator… I had always sketched as a hobby but decided to cobble a portfolio together and pitched for the job! My commercial illustration career started and I worked on all kinds of amazing projects.
At 39, I had my son which (not uncommonly!) turned my life upside down. I struggled after a traumatic birth and after a blurry, difficult first few years of motherhood (I ended up having CBT after a diagnosis of PND and PTSD) I got back to work part time feeling like I needed to start creating my own work outside of my commissions. Around this time, I listened to an audio book called “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert and it just ignited a fire in me! I had to realise my creative potential and so Rebsville was born!. I still work commercially alongside running my small brand… a tricky balance but really fulfilling.
Your family has a strong creative background; did you know this was always the route you would follow in some capacity?
Painting and drawing was just part of my life for as long as I can remember, but at no point did I really think it was something I could do as a living. As I hadn’t been to art school… I didn’t really know all the options there were out there and was always interested in lots of things so really enjoyed all the jobs I have done. When I look back now…I can see how obvious it was. I used to make the most elaborate blackboard and menu designs… the best classroom displays and early years creative projects… but all the jobs I have done have given me skills that are all so useful now.
You have a wonderful studio where you design all your goods. Can you tell us a bit about this space and how you have it set up?
It was made by R.J. Joinery, a farm building company in Hay on Wye, close to where my Dad lives. They built it there, took it apart in panels to drive down the M4 and resurrect in my London garden! It is amazing! I have to be honest and say that I am a messy creative. I have many projects running at once but I do know where everything is amongst the chaos. I have big studios sort outs every couple of months but more often than not, it is in wonderful disarray! I don’t mind but I also love it when order is returned!
I have large plan chests containing my archive of commercial work and another for all my prints and paper goods to pack and post from my Rebsville shop. There’s a standing desk and 2 long sitting desktops, one facing in and one out the window, depending on my mood or focus of the project. I have a huge collection of books and inspiration that I have collected over the years…some bits and bobs even from childhood. It’s a constant rich source of inspiration and I am so lucky to have it!
Do you have a favourite print/illustration and why?
I am really attached to my Wild Animals Kingdom Print. It sat in my head for months before I sat down to draw it…it’s a culmination of years of doodling animals and jungles and just feels like a wonderful place to escape to. I also love my new Liberty of London print…it’s the latest ones that take the top spot I think.
What do you most enjoy drawing?
That’s a tricky one! Food! Cityscapes! Typography! I am a huge fan of any kind of map…my walls at home are covered in them. I do a bespoke map service where I create a ‘Map of your life so far’ for big birthdays, weddings and retirements and they are so fascinating to produce. I love life drawing too. I haven’t got many people in my print shop at the moment but they will appear soon!
Why is creativity important to you?
I have always had the gift to be able to pick up a pencil and draw from observation. I was taught from an early age by my mother but as I have grown up, and especially after having my son, my creativity has played a huge part in healing old wounds and recovering myself. I have fully embraced my creativity as a way of life now, it appears in every thing I do and I am completely led by it. I feel like I have got all these creations inside that are ready to come out, I just need to find all the time in the world!
Where do you feel most creative?
When I am travelling. It doesn’t have to be abroad on holiday, somewhere away from home really. Just a walk around the park or back from the school run can conjure up new ideas. Maybe it has more to do with movement than place actually. I often come up with ideas when I am swimming lengths!
Does your son also like to get creative and does he have his own creative space?
He is 5 now and is starting to get really creative. He’s always had access to paints and crafts but often would choose vehicles over anything. Now he is a big Lego fan and he makes some pretty cool creations. He does now choose pens and paints, drawing wonderful line sketches and making me very happy!
Why do you think it’s so important that both adults and children have a creative outlet/space?
I see creativity as a way of expressing things that sometimes are hard to say. having access to tools to do this is so important, even if it’s just a box you can put on the kitchen table to start making your own marks on a piece of paper. As an ex primary school teacher, I learnt the value of communication without speaking and being able to explore creative expression is so valuable and can’t start early enough. I grew up in homes where we all had creative spaces so it has naturally become part of my own home now. My parents both still have studios and workshops to create in and I can’t imagine living without one.
A huge thank you to Rebecca for being part of our #ourspacetocreate blog. It’s always fascinating to hear from artists and have a sneak into their creative world and processes. Head over to Rebeccas website to see her full range of prints and other wonderful goods.