Welcome in to Club Tropicana, a place where lampshades are adorned in the wonderful and lush artwork of talented surface pattern student and designer, Jasmine Yahkup. By taking her designs and ideas back to her cultural roots and combining this with her a love of all things flora and fauna, her lampshades have a brightness and detailed tropical charm. Read on to to find out about Jasmine's inspiration...
How are you today and what’s are you working on at the moment?
I’m good thanks, I’m currently working on a collection of prints and lampshades for my final project at University - I finish my degree in two weeks! My current collection is based around the concept of The Endangered & The Exotic.
This has been an on-going project for the past year and I’ve been hand drawing illustrations of tropical flora and fauna and digitally transforming them into patterns, some of which I’ve made into lampshades. My aim has been to spread awareness of endangered species by illustrating their beauty and bringing them into our homes as decorative features. I am also working on items to sell as I’ll be launching an Etsy shop shortly after my Uni deadline, which I am really excited about!
How do you start the design process and where do you get your design inspiration?
I design all my own fabric prints so I always start with some photography which I can later use to draw and paint from. I almost always start off my process with a visit to a botanical garden- and usually head straight to the tropical section! My work is inspired by my cultural identity and passion for nature. It often features tropical scenes and botanical illustrations which are influenced by my experiences growing up in South East Asia.
How would you describe your style?
I would probably describe my style as being bright, tropical and one of a kind! I’m drawn to leaves, flowers and animals in nature which are bright in colour and rich in pattern. I love botanical illustrations, I’d say my designs are a contemporary take on botanical illustration and like to think that they’re fun and quirky. My work brings me so much joy to make, so I hope that this reflects in my style too!
It’s clear from your design aesthetic that you have a real love of nature. Why did you choose to make lampshades using your designs?
I do have a real love of nature- there’s always something within in it to be inspired by, I don’t think I could ever get bored of it as my muse! As I design my own fabrics, I was curious to see if my designs would work on a lampshade. I’m always interested to see how my fabric will look on different products, and that’s how using my own designs to make lampshades came about. I love how it makes the process even more personal, because everything about the lampshade from the fabric to its construction I have handmade- which is also very rewarding. The point of a lampshade is to brighten up a space, so I feel like my work being so bright and colourful lends itself perfectly for this use while also adding a pop of personality!
We can see that you’re in your final year of a Textiles and Surface pattern design. What’s been the highlight of your course so far?
The highlight of my course has definitely been the opportunities that I’ve had to learn new skills and really find myself as a designer. I’ve always loved drawing and being creative, and my degree at The Northern School of Art has equipped me with an abundance of practical skills. It has shown me how I can optimise my creativity to turn my passion into a career. I have loved having the space to experiment and try new techniques and discover what works well for me as a designer- it has enabled me to grow so much in the last three years.
We also checked out your work at the Hartlepool Youth Homeless Charity. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
Last year I had the opportunity to design two wall murals for Sanctuary Supported Living (SSL), a charity which provides shelter for homeless youth aged 16-25 in Hartlepool. I co-lead this project and a team of volunteer students to convert two store rooms into a games room and a gym for the residents. We worked with the residents who came up with different ideas for what they wanted to have feature in the murals. Music is a big part of everyday life at Sanctuary Supported Living and the youth wanted to see their favourite artists and musical quotes incorporated into the mural, which I then went away and designed. I absolutely loved being a part of this project. Hartlepool, where the charity was based, is the town I moved to for University and I really wanted to give back to the community, and it was so lovely to be able to do this in my own creative way. I learnt a lot from this project, I’d never done anything like it before- but it was so amazing to see my designs brought to life through the help of volunteers and the visions of the residents.
When did you start making lampshades?
I made my first lampshade a year ago in a workshop at University, and loved it. Our textile technician at Uni ran the workshop and introduced me to the art of lampshade making - which I am of course very grateful for! I’m still very much a beginner and don’t have a lot of time outside my degree so I try and incorporate it into my Uni work as much as I can.
What’s your favourite part of the lampshade making process?
My favourite part is definitely when you finish rolling the fabric and backing around the rings and you get to the see what your lampshade will look like for the first time. Even though you have an idea what it should look like, it’s always really exciting to see your design come to life and start to take shape!
How are you finding the process of having your designs transferred onto fabrics for your shades. Is there anything special you need to consider?
I love it, it’s so satisfying to see a project through from start to finish, from initial drawings to it being printed onto fabric and made into a lampshade. Scale is definitely something to consider. Deciding what sized lampshade to place a print onto, and how large or small that print should be can really impact the overall look.
Any tips for lampshade makers you’ve discovered so far?
I’m still very much learning myself but I would probably say not to be disheartened if it doesn’t always go right or if things don’t quite go to plan. Just like with everything, practice makes perfect and lampshade making really is one of those techniques that gets easier with time and the more lampshades you make. I would also recommend not to be scared to experiment - try a ridiculously bold print, make a gigantic lampshade, design your own fabric - there are so many possibilities to play around with.
When are you at your most productive?
I’m usually my most productive on an evening, or after I’ve had some fresh air and a walkabout in nature. Though truthfully, I’m probably at my most productive when I should be going to sleep!
And your favourite sustenance when you’re working?
A cup of tea always keeps me going- usually Yorkshire tea, I do love a chocolate biscuit too!
Could you let us take a peek at your workspace?
Yes of course! It’s a very temporary set up at the moment. I would usually do all my design work at Uni but with the lockdown I’ve had to adapt and set up a little garden table inside at home and surrounded myself with lots of plants to keep me inspired!
Where would you like to be in 10 years time?
I would love to be designing prints for the fashion and interior textile industry, whilst having my own business selling my art prints and lampshades on the side. I’d like to think I’d have a studio set up somewhere surrounded by other creative individuals. The current global situation means it’s so hard to determine where I’ll even be in a few weeks time after completing my degree, so it’s so hard to know how things will turn out. If I’m completely honest, as long as I’m still drawing, designing and using my creativity - I’ll be really happy!
What have you learned that’s been invaluable to your creative process?
Never turn down an opportunity to learn something new - like a lampshade workshop or a new painting technique. You never know how much you will benefit from learning something new until you give it a go. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do, a particular technique or skill, go for it! That doesn’t have to mean going to a class, there’s so much you can learn online and teach yourself.
See and follow Jasmine's stunning designs on Instagram @jasmine.yahkup.textiles
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