Not content with illustrating campaigns and articles for some of the world’s best-known brands, Stephen Cheetham has launched a new business with interior designer Jessica Pinotti creating patterns for walls, floors and textiles. We spoke to Cheetham about his plans for the venture.
Inspired by Mr Men characters, cartoons and childhood toys, Stephen Cheetham’s bold and witty graphics have featured in work for Google, BA, Bloomberg and The Independent to name just a few. He’s also designed greetings cards, screen prints and plastic wall art and used to provide his loyal Tumblr followers with a new illustration each day.
In early 2012, Cheetham was asked to decorate the walls of East London café, Tina, We Salute You and created a living-room themed interior with Jessica Pinotti (below). The project went so well, the pair decided to work together permanently and have recently launched a pattern design business, All The Fruits.
All The Fruits offers a collection of pre-designed patterns that can be applied to a range of materials and a bespoke service for clients looking to transform a particular space. All patterns are designed by Cheetham and Pinotti and the long-term plan is to launch a creative studio working on branding, 3D installations and set designs as well as homeware and textiles.
“[Working with Tina, We Salute You] we realised our skills complemented each other and that maybe we should work together on a more permanent basis,” says Cheetham.
“The decision to focus on pattern and surface design was mutual and spontaneous – Jessica has had an interest in it since university and as an illustrator, I wanted a way to broaden my skills and the application of my work. Time passed, and we were both busy pursuing our own careers, but always talking about the potential of All The Fruits and gathering inspiration for our first collection,” he explains.
Cheetham and Pinotti’s first collection is a set of 24 illustrated designs featuring fish, prawns, faces and optical illusions. The patterns were applied to textiles and wallpaper samples at Open Design Italia in Venice last month – and Cheetham says they received “a wonderful response”.
“We are currently chatting to suppliers and producers and will hopefully have a few self produced products available to purchase early next year,” he adds.
Inspiration for patterns vary: some, such as Fashionheads, are based on Cheetham’s personal illustration work while others are inspired by every day observations and found objects. One pattern, titled optical illusions, is influenced by a set of vintage cigarette cards discovered by Pinotti:
“The process for each pattern is roughly the same – it starts with an inspiration, then we chat about its application and potential,” explains Cheetham. “I will create the rough artwork, we try to understand if it could work and if yes, things get changed and altered. We then review, tweak the composition and colours and keep going with this until we’re both happy with the results,” he says.
Cheetham usually acts as illustrator and Pinotti as art director, but he says the pair are happy to switch roles. “I think it makes for a balanced working relationship,” he adds.
Pinotti and Cheetham’s partnership is clearly one that works well – the first range of patterns feature the same bold colours, clean lines and humour that Cheetham has used to great effect in personal and commissioned work but have a versatile appeal and would work both large scale and small. “All the patterns we have created and published are ones that we would use and live with – that we like and would buy for ourselves,” he says.
The pair are also keen to create a range of fashion and stationery products and 3D patterned surfaces, says Cheetham. “It’s very early days at the moment, but if we can start the new year with a few exciting projects in the pipeline, it would be great.