Spotlight: Clare Therese

Today we turn the spotlight onto British Surface Pattern designer, Clare Therese, best known for her delicate, hand-drawn and painted florals inspired by the natural environment of her rural Hampshire surroundings. Clare lives and works on a farm with her young family, taking on commissions alongside creating surface pattern designs and illustrations for printed textiles and homewares.

Tell us about yourself, Clare – what do you do?

I’m a freelance designer and illustrator creating hand-drawn and painted patterns and illustrations. I’m a real nature lover and experimenter which often come together in my work. I don’t restrict myself to any one media, but I primarily use a mixture of watercolour, gouache and pencil, then reworking the drawings in Photoshop.

UK-based surface pattern designer and illustrator, Clare Therese
British Surface Pattern designer, Clare Therese

Have you always had a flair for art and creativity?

I’ve drawn most days since I was a child having grown up in a very creative household. My father is a painter, my sister an illustrator, and my brother a writer. I feel so fortunate that it’s what I do for a living now.  My background is a BA in Painting and a Postgraduate Diploma in Drawing from the Royal Drawing School so I guess I took a creative path quite early on. I only moved into freelance design after a stint in some womenswear printed textile studios, and my work became much more playful and decorative.

A hand-drawn floral illustration by UK-based surface pattern designer and illustrator, Clare Therese
Among Clare’s favourite subjects are flowers, nature and the wildlife in the surrounding countryside

Talk us through your creative process…

I am a working mother of two small babies, and for me, busy family life comes first. As a result, I’m pretty limited with my work time but it works both ways I guess as I have to be extremely disciplined with the time I do have, and this is often concentrated and intensely creative. I think about designing all the time and am naturally inspired by the farm and environment I‘m surrounded by. I try to draw from nature as much as I can but I often use source material and photography from social media for inspiration (florists have the most beautiful images of flowers!) and I am constantly experimenting in sketchbooks to garner thoughts and explore ideas.

My creative hand can be very eclectic, I am quite a prolific designer and depending on my mood and materials to hand, patterns can look completely different from one day to the next. I try to be honest with my work – what you see on Instagram is often what I am thinking, and this can sometimes have a consequential narrative but often appear quite random! The feedback I get on social media can sometimes completely send me in a new direction.

A hand-painted floral design by UK-based surface pattern designer and illustrator, Clare Therese
A skilled painter, Clare’s style can expertly adapt to different styles and subjects

Do you have an absolute favourite subject to illustrate?

Flowers seem to come most naturally to me although I love the challenge of producing more illustrative and conversational patterns. In my personal work I have a terrible habit of flitting from one subject to the next so it’s very helpful having briefs to work to. 

What’s your most memorable commission been?

 Maybe designing a close friend’s wedding stationery; it was such an honour and we had a lot of fun along the way. It’s something I’d love to do more of if I had the time.

A hand-painted floral design by UK-based surface pattern designer and illustrator, Clare Therese
Delicate, pastel floral designs are a staple of Clare’s portfolio

 What are you currently working on?

 I’m working on my first collection of quilting fabric which I’m finding really exciting! You’ll see some of my studio practice on Instagram along with the odd image from the kitchen table or kitchen garden and farm. I‘m always broadening my portfolio of designs whilst working on commissions, there never seem to be enough hours in the day!

Hand-painted floral designs by UK-based surface pattern designer and illustrator, Clare Therese
Follow Clare on Instagram and you’ll soon become familiar with her kitchen table-cum-workspace!

 What do you have in store for the future?

 I’m currently sourcing suppliers to get together an online shop for prints and original work. I’d love to have the time to focus a little more on printmaking for interior furnishing but we shall see. As long as I can continue to draw and paint every day, I’ll feel like I’m winning.

A hand-painted floral design by UK-based surface pattern designer and illustrator, Clare Therese
Clare typically uses a mixture of watercolour, gouache and pencil before reworking her drawings in Photoshop

Last but not least, what’s your favourite flower and why?

 Tea roses by a mile, for their blousy beauty and scent. I love scented flowers and we’re slowly establishing a sensory garden for my daughter to teach her about edible herbs and flowers.


Follow Clare on Instagram @claretheresegray

A hand-painted floral design by UK-based surface pattern designer and illustrator, Clare Therese
Clare’s work is inspired by nature and in particular British birds and flowers