London-based surface pattern designer and illustrator, Clover Robin, grew up in Devon before training and graduating from Leeds College of Art and Design in 2007. Clover pursued her passion for art by completing a Masters at the prestigious Central Saint Martins and is now based in Greenwich, where she lovingly crafts her collages, inspired by local nature and a childhood of woodland walks and countryside rambles. Follow Clover and her daily creations on Instagram at @clover_robin
Tell us about yourself, Clover. How did you start your career as an artist?
I’ve always been interested in art and design, and after a few years specialising in print and pattern all I really wanted to do was work with paper, scissors and glue creating artworks inspired by experiences of simple everyday activities, nature and my surroundings. As soon as I started snipping the things that truly inspired me I really started to see my artistic handwriting develop and I was able to make the kind of art I really wanted to create. Amazingly, I started getting the jobs I could’ve only ever dreamed of. I still feel like I’m at the beginning of my creative career and have a long way to go, and I couldn’t be more excited and grateful for it.
“As soon as I started snipping the things that truly inspired me I really started to see my artistic handwriting develop and I was able to make the kind of art I really wanted to create.”
What inspires you?
Everything, but with a strong leaning towards nature and the outdoors. I grew up in Devon and having lived in London for over 10 years my work seems to focus more and more on the simplicity of the land and its vast beauty of flora and fauna. You will find me most weekends in the countryside, somewhere a long way away from the bustle of the city. I also absolutely love the simplicity and colours of mid-20th century design and get a lot of joy from folk art, too.
We absolutely love your delicately crafted collages. Can you tell us more about them?
Thank you! They start life as handpainted papers, with a few scraps from magazine and newspapers too (or anything else that happens to be lying around). The colours and textures I use depend on the things I’m collaging. I try to get lots of depth into the artworks so use lots of different splattery paint techniques, rubbings and different artist mediums on the papers. The resulting tactility brings this subject to life in a way drawing has never been able to for me. And then I snip them all up! I move the pieces around the page playing with compositions and shapes until I’m happy with them, and then, finally stick them all down. I never really know what the outcome is going to be as each snip is so unpredictable, but this is one of the things I love about it.
Tell us about your experience with Instagram…
I started posting pictures on Instagram a couple of years ago and it felt very foreign. I have always shown my work in more academic or professional settings so this felt very strange throwing it out to anyone and everyone who wanted to look. My expectations were extremely low, but I had friends who were enjoying getting feedback about their work — strangers are fearless about sharing an honest opinion. Other than my own fear of people hating the thing I had finally found that I loved doing pretty much more than anything, it seemed like I had nothing to lose.
I started using hashtags thinking nothing would come of it and then I got a retweet from Grace Bonney from Design Sponge and that changed absolutely everything. It opened my collages up to a world of creative people who may never have seen my work and gave me the boost of confidence in my own process and practice that I really needed to confidently pursue the things I really wanted to do. It is an amazing tool and instant leveller.
My only concern really is the number of people who can then take the stuff you post and do what they want with it. There have also been a lot of cases of other designers who have had their work copied and traced directly. Its a worry but I think you need to weigh up what you want to put out there and whether it’ worth it.
“I started using hashtags thinking nothing would come of it and then I got a retweet from Grace Bonney from Design Sponge and that changed absolutely everything.”
What’s your approach to posting images?
I have no approach! I see there are lots of courses and programmes now about how to best promote/curate your work etc. but I really like the authenticity of an account that shares everything, warts and all. Of course, this is rarely the case, but there are some accounts out there where you get a real insight into an artist’s creative process, and I like to try and show a bit of that in mine.
Have you had any nice surprises along the way?
Yes! I have found it to be an incredibly supportive and friendly platform and have met (virtually) so many like-minded artists and designers who genuinely feel like they have become friends, which seems a bit mad. I have also been approached about a few exciting projects which I like to think I may have got without the exposure IG has given me but I don’t think I would’ve so quickly.
Who do you admire?
I have been a fan of a number of artists for a long time, Deborah Bowness and her incredible wallpapers, John Pipers glorious collages and I love the simplicity in Paul Rand and Charlie Harper’s artworks (to name but a few) but have discovered some amazing artists and illustrators via Instagram too; Caroline Pedlar, Faye Moorhouse and Anisa Makhoul included. They all have a really unique and distinct aesthetic and their posts never seem over curated, but rather give an honest approach and snapshot of what they do. Plus their work is beautiful.
We spotted that plants and flowers made a regular appearance in your work. What do you love about them?
I love the incredible colours, shapes and textures they come in. I love that they grow from the ground and respond to their surroundings like wildflowers growing through concrete or on cliff edges. I also love big blousy camellias with really distinct, architecturally shaped stamens. Flowers and plants are a constant source of inspiration as they are so different. In such a busy world just stopping and enjoying something as simple as this feels more and more like a luxury, so I think they will always feature in my snipping repertoire as I just get so much joy from them.