Still Life By The Sea

Brighton-based illustrator and print designer Grace Percival tells The Floristry about what most inspires her and how she has honed her creative process.

Grace Percival is a designer, artist and illustrator based in the British seaside town of Brighton. Throughout her career Grace has created a diverse body of work spanning the spheres of fashion, interiors, design and beauty.

Originally trained as a textile designer, Grace uses her skills in colour and composition to create bold and memorable designs. She uses fluid brushstrokes, rich textures and minimalist design to create a contemporary finish to her work.

Who have been your biggest influences and inspirations?
My dad is amazing at art. When I was younger he used to sketch things for me to paint. While I was interning, I was still living with him in his little shed in the middle of the Kent countryside. I would come home and carry on drawing to get as much practice as possible, and he would always sit with me.

Are there any themes or specific places that you keep coming back to in your work?
I’m currently obsessed with still lifes. These always include ceramics, as window shopping for vases is my favourite pastime. Wine bars are pretty much a constant, not necessarily for the reason you think. I like the table layouts, glasses, flowers, bottles and tablecloths; they are usually ever-changing too, so a constant source of inspiration, from the bottle branding to the bud vases on the tables.

How would you describe your interior style?
My personal interior style is traditional with a modern twist, I pay a lot of attention to the finer details in craftsmanship to make the space the best it can be and a space we are proud of. I find that a rewarding process. I think a home should feel like a sanctuary to relax and recharge.

Talk us through your creative process…
Weirdly, I start at the end:, I work out what the frame size will be and already have a strong idea of colour palette. This gives me the size of paper I need to use – currently I am working on very small-scale pieces. In terms of subject matter, I have an archive of vases, fruit bowls and bouquets that I add together to make a still-life. The process itself, I use gouache paint on torn paper. I have used the same paintbrush for eight years now; I don’t think I’d remember how to paint without it.

“I have used the same paintbrush for eight years now; I don’t think I’d remember how to paint without it.”

Which part of the world is home to you?
I’ve been living in Brighton for a little over a year now, after living in London for seven years. It’s always been a dream of mine to be able to buy my own place but I couldn’t stomach London prices. I still wanted to live somewhere with a city buzz and Brighton definitely has that. I live in my little green terrace house on a hill near the sea. I am totally in love with it. I walk to my workspace along the beach every morning which, as clichéd as it sounds, does make me happy on a daily basis.

How would you describe your interior style?
Granny chic instantly comes to mind. I’m recently obsessing over floral wallpaper and frilly cushions. I have tried to fill my home with a mix of things sourced from independent makers and antiques as I love the balance between the old and the new.

What are your favourite objects in your home and why?
I have so many pieces I treasure in my home. One being the little pink armchair in the living room I picked up at a local antique dealer, it was only £100 and the most perfect fit, I couldn’t believe my luck. I have a giant piece of work by Kate Boxer hanging as soon as you come in the door, it’s a portrait of James Baldwin. I’m obsessed with how she approaches her portraits and even more obsessed with telling other people how it’s done. Lastly, I have a small ceramic leopard that stands on top of my fireplace. Leopard print is timeless to me so for obvious reasons he has pride of place.

How do you create a warming and inviting space?
I think the key to creating a comfortable and inviting space is all down to a variety of textures and patterns. After stripping the wallpaper back to bare plaster in my main living area, I really felt that it was actually way more homely as it had textures in the wall as well as random splashes of paint from the previous owners. The room feels more alive than those with flat colours.

How does nature play a role in your life and your work?
I’m obsessed with flowers and being surrounded by them at all times. My home is always full, I buy one bouquet and spread it around the house. They are a huge part of my creativity as, whether it’s fashion prints or my original pieces, they are nearly always featured.
I also love spending time on the beach, rain or shine. Growing up in Kent, I was able to spend a large amount of my childhood at the seaside, to now living in Brighton and being able to see the sea every day, it’s glorious.

Finally, any upcoming projects you’d like to share with us?
I’m really excited to be working on some new pieces and these will be in various art drops launching late January/early February. So please keep your eyes out if you would like to purchase one of my original pieces!

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