Print designer Gayle Mansfield chats Creative Spaces
I’m thrilled that Gayle Mansfield is this months #ourspacetocreate interview. Gayle set up her design studio with her husband back in 2016 and since then it has gone from strength to strength. I remember seeing Gayle’s prints on Instagram for the first time and instantly falling in love with their simplicity and fun slant. I have a number dotted around our home and I was so happy when we collaborated on two designs for Blue Ticking a couple of years ago.
Gayle lives in East Sussex with her daughter and husband.
Please could you tell us a bit about yourself and Gayle Mansfield designs
Back in 2016 I’d had a little bit of time out, I’d left my career as a project manager for a housing organisation and was trying to work out my next move; I’d worked in that field for my whole career but was ready for something new. I’d thrown myself into renovating our house whilst also being available for our young daughter and doing all the school runs etc, but was very aware that I needed to work again at some point! So, while we were looking for art prints for our own walls as part of our ongoing renovation, we thought why don’t we have a go at designing our own?
I’d wanted to run my own business for a number of years and had got very close to launching something in 2012 but it didn’t work out in the end. As both Steve and I are both really interested in good design (Steve is a graphic designer and I am obsessed with interiors) it made sense for us to set something up in that area, and here we are 3.5 years later! We have a particular love for minimal design and also play around with words / phrases a lot at home and share a daft sense of humour, so all of this became intertwined to create the business.
I had no real idea where the it was going to lead us but we have grown organically and I love that I am now my own boss and can work from home. Steve is the lead designer for the business, I am the ideas, marketing and customer service person, and we have a fabulous part time assistant who fulfils all the orders I (I step in when we are really busy).
Did you creative journey start when you set up your design studio or was it before that?
Long before. My Dad is very creative and my brother and I were always drawing with him as kids, and helping him make stuff out of wood, etc. I also spent a lot of my childhood making friendship bracelets and necklaces for friends, and was really into doodling. I was very particular about my childhood bedrooms and got a lot of enjoyment from organising and re-arranging them! I developed a real passion for interior design years ago and have thrown myself into re-designing our homes.
Could you describe your studio and how you have it set up?
Our studio is a cheap and cheerful version of a ‘proper’ off the shelf garden room, that we commissioned a friend of a friend to build for us. It’s clad in black wood and is very minimalistic and simple in design (obviously!) It’s at the end of our garden and houses our printing equipment, we have a desk area for laptop work and a large table for cutting and packing orders. There’s also lots of storage but we are still drowning in cardboard boxes/cardboard tubes! We have a large floor to ceiling window at the front of the studio and the walls and floor are made of OSB board – cheap as chips! We do our proper designing in the house at our computer.
The garden room is still a work in progress and I made a few mistakes in its design which I try not to be too annoyed about! It does the job though, and means we are not having to store everything in our house, which goes some way in helping me to have separation between work and home. In a couple of years I hope to rebuild it and be far more considered in its design. At the moment we still have two old printers in the room taking up much needed space but once they are gone I’ll be improving the storage, as we really need some more shelving and just better organisation in general. It’s very much a functional space rather than a beautiful space, unfortunately!
What’s your favourite thing in your office/creative space?
It has to be our new all singing all dancing printer that we bought in the summer. Previously we had two secondhand printers that after 3 years finally gave up the ghost – they were causing me no end of grief with broken parts etc, so now we have a far more efficient / quicker system in place and I should have bought a new one ages ago to be honest! I also love my Frenchie print by Stephen Davids, that I have up near my desk; it makes me smile every day!
Why is creativity important to you?
It’s nice to be able to let your imagination run free, and it’s such a great feeling to create something brand new out of nothing too, it doesn’t get much better than that for me! Being creative is an opportunity for me to express myself and my personality. I am really quite sarcastic and have a dry sense of humour which I feel comes across in our work.
Where do you feel most creative?
In the shower or when I am swimming is when I have most of my ideas. I have to quickly get out and jot them down before they disappear from my head forever! I feel most creative when I am pottering around my house moving furniture around and also when styling shots for instagram/our website. I am also inspired creatively when I go to IKEA, nice cafes, boutique hotels etc.
What do you need to design/create?
Peace and quiet preferably, and some strong Yorkshire tea, some Tonys chocoloney and a scented candle. I don’t spend nearly enough time designing or creating at the moment and need to rectify that, as I find the styling and photography part of my work really enjoyable and relaxing, and coming up with new designs is always exciting.
If you weren’t doing something creative what do you think you would be doing?
I think I might have re-trained as a primary school teacher or a psychotherapist, but to be honest I think I need to be doing something creative to feel fulfilled, and have had a long held desire to be an interior designer/stylist. So maybe that instead! Who knows!
Does your daughter have her own creative space? Could you tell us a bit about it?
She has a dedicated art cupboard in the living room and likes to sprawl her stuff all over the kitchen table when creating. We tried a desk in her room but being a sociable only child she is rarely in her bedroom and always around us (for now anyway!). We are re- doing her bedroom this winter so may incorporate a desk, particularly as she is getting older and may need to create stuff / do her homework quietly.
What creative activities does she like to do?
She loves to draw, doodle, colour and make things out of fimo. She goes to a weekly art club where she can get really stuck in to messy things and she has bought home all sorts of creations such as canvas paintings, wall hangings, papier mache objects etc. She is also partial to advising us on next designs to launch!!
Why do you think it’s so important that both kids and adults have a creative space?
It’s a welcome release from the day to day humdrum and bad news! It’s a chance to switch off and use your imagination. And not be tied to the day to day of running a house / be distracted by the washing etc.
A huge thank you to Gayle for taking part. Do check out her website which is full of incredible art prints.