Q&A with Tess Smith Roberts

Eagle eyed visitors to Mayfair and Belgravia would have noticed colourful street art brightening up pavements around the neighbourhood. One of the artists responsible for the vibrant and cheerful art is Tess Smith Roberts. We sat down with her to ask about her creative process…

AWD_3203.jpg newvinylsoct2020-021.JPG newvinylsoct2020-058.JPG

How do you go about creating your designs?

Tess Smith Roberts: I start off with some tiny sketches of ideas and compositions and then just get straight to drawing on the iPad!

What’s the inspiration for your illustration style – how did you come to this style?
 
TSR: I came to this style when I was drawing my graphic novel a couple of years ago. As I had to draw the same characters and scenes over and over again, it just developed from there. I wanted to create a happy & colourful world in the book that juxtaposed the sad storyline of loneliness - I think it worked!
 
What was your inspiration for the illustrations in Mayfair & Belgravia?
 
TSR: I think murals of people that are life sized so you can stand next to them are really fun, so that was the basis of the idea! I then wanted the people to be vibrant and happy, so that’s why they all look like they’re having a good time & some are dancing! Some of them are shopping too, which I think works well as South Molton is a shopping street. I also really like drawing fruit because they are so bright and colourful. 
 
How do you feel design and artwork adds to a destination?
 
TSR: I think it can make it more of a destination if that makes sense, as in more people will come to an area if there are installations or murals or artwork there. It’s a good way to get new people to visit an area that they normally wouldn’t go to 
 
You’ve worked all over the world – tell us about a place that has inspired you and your work, and why?
 
TSR: I lived in Barcelona a few years ago, the most vibrant and lovely city! I had a lot of time to develop my work and style, and the colourful nature of the city really influence how I colour my work. 
 
How did lockdown affect your design process, if at all?
 
TSR: It gave me more time for personal work! So I ended up drawing food which I think is my favourite thing to draw now.