My Bag

Get to know illustrator Isla Simpson

Meet the talented Isla Simpson. A London based designer and illustrator of stationary, painted mirrors and paper cut paintings with a nostalgic English aesthetic. With her name the same as our most recently launched collection, along with her stunning illustrations, the stars were aligned and there was no doubt in our minds that we had to work with her.

Hi Isla! We see you’re as obsessed with shells as we are. Why shells?

Shell grottos! If you’ve ever seen one, you’ll know why. Shells are one of nature’s best decorations and I definitely aspire to hot glue gun’ing my own dedicated grotto room one day when I move to the countryside.  It’s in my romantic retirement plan.

What inspires you?

Much of what I love, is what I grew up with, 80s and 90s country houses, unashamedly blousy and feminine.  It’s a style very much inherited from my parents who were never without a roll of Laura Ashley wallpaper, lots of brown furniture and a William Morris sofa.  I’ve just layered on from there.  I’m also heavily influenced by Mary Delany, the 18th century botanical decoupage artist and Pat Elbeck, both women who designed well into their 80s.

How did you get into illustration?

I was a handbag designer for fifteen years, working for various brands and my favourite part of the job was the sketching.  I started posted sketches on instagram after I made the leap to freelance and began accepting commissions.  I had a hunch there was room for my nostalgically English, feminine style.

How and why did you start your business?

The business evolved very organically, without a plan, from the kitchen table. Initially I wanted to revive the illustrated envelope and banish boring brown envelopes, so I started hand printing stationery.  Pretty soon, I was hand painting mirrors and making paper collages.  I was so lucky in having my wonderful tribe on instagram, who loved my chintzy musings and spurred me on.

What’s your favourite piece from the Isla collection?

The Double Shell Earrings, which I’ve practically slept in, I love them that much.

What’s your jewellery style – minimalist or statement?

My best friend marched me down to the chemist to have my ears pierced six years ago in the midst of heartbreak. So I now make a bee line for statement earrings. Why did I wait so long? It’s my fave thing ever.

Where do you call home?

A shoe box of a Victorian flat in Walthamstow, East London.  I’d never heard of Walthamstow until someone tipped me off, it was a real coup de foudre wandering round Walthamstow village that first time.  It honestly feels as though you’ve stepped out of the city and everyone stops to chat to each other, a rare thing in London.

What are your top tips for summer in London?

Wear a dress, pack some sandwiches and get to Hampstead Heath. I haven’t braved the Ladies pond yet, I keep psyching myself up for that.

I always feel better with greenery in my life, be it a stroll in a park or some gardening.

Fave beach in the world?

Swimming in the sea is good for the soul, Porthcurno in St Ives, Cornwall is very close to my heart.  The light is extraordinary!

Fave city in the world?

Bath, I was at school there and I’m dying to move back.  Even in the rain, it’s ridiculously beautiful, West really is best.