Ninja Designer: Lizzie Carins of Blinkin Imp

By now most people should have received their November Ninja Book Box and had time to marvel at the beauty of the Starry Skies teatowel that we included. I bought myself one way back in the planning stages as a tester and honestly, it's too pretty to use to actually dry dishes!

I hadn't stumbled across Blinkin Imp before we were researching stuff to include in the Slightly Surreal box but I am totally in love. Lizzie's designs are super beautiful and really appeal to my love of the outdoors and bold, clear colour, so of course I took this as an opportunity to ask her more about her work.

Can you tell us a little about your background and how you came to start Blinkin' Imp?

I was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne and grew up in the North East. During my childhood I constantly had a pencil in my hand, drawing all the time, I knew I would always be a designer!

I went on to study Textile Design at Heriot Watt University Scottish Borders Campus after completing a Foundation course in Art at Newcastle College. After graduation from University I was fortunate to gain a design position in a small Surface Design company based in Winchester called Peagreen.

I experienced 7 fun years in the Peagreen team, creating portfolio designs to sell worldwide, as well as working on commissions for various companies such as Gap, Paperchase, Stussy, Marks and Spencers, plus travelling to trade shows in America and Europe.

In 2011 I moved to Vancouver in Canada and this is where Blinkin’ Imp began. I decided to revisit my screen printing skills and built up a series of screen printed art works, selling them at little local craft fairs in the city. I illustrated and printed maps of the city, scenery and Canadian wildlife. On my return to the UK in 2013, I continued Blinkin’ Imp and began to build a collection of designs and products inspired by my home, the North East region.

A lot of your work seems to be influenced by the region you live in and by nature and the outdoors. Why is that do you think?

I have always considered the North East of England to be a truly beautiful, special, historical, fascinating and unique place. Growing up there I was lucky to spend summers by the coast admiring the local wildlife and scenery. I find nature and being outdoors inspiring and breath taking, this fuels my passion in art and expressing myself through illustration and print making. I also convey my love of travel and exploring through the hand drawn maps I create.

Your designs are very striking. Can you give us a little more background about the processes behind the production of your products?

Thank you! I hand draw and illustrate all of my designs using an assortment of pens and pencils, I use Adobe Illustrator to construct each piece and produce screen separations for each colour, in preparation for the screen printing process. I love to make textures using many mediums like paint and pastels too.

We love to hear about people's favourite books and authors. What are some/one of yours?

I love Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Northern Lights Trilogy by Philip Pullman, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.

What's your favourite of your designs?

“When it’s lamp lighting time”

Where can we find you online?

Thanks so much to Lizzie for taking the time to answer these questions and share your beautiful work with us. We're going to be compiling a reading list of all the books loved by people we interview and would love to hear your recommendations for any titles fitting the slightly surreal theme - please tweet them to us or leave them in the comments below!

Meanwhile keep sharing your Slightly Surreal excitement here in the comments and using #ninjabookbox on social media. Orders for 'A Shakespearean Mystery' - the February box - are being taken now in our shop, don't miss out!

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