Ellen Merchant

In Conversation with Ellen Merchant 

Ellen Merchant is a decorative artist, designer & printmaker based in London. Drawing from her love of folk art, antique textiles and botanical forms, Ellen's pattern-focused approach to design is playful, and painterly and expresses the joy of the handmade mark. Ellen demonstrates an original take on traditional hand-printing methods, which is informed by her unique instinct for combinations of colour and pattern; treading the line between traditional and modern. 
Ellen Merchant studied for her foundation course at Central St Martins, and then took a BA in Illustration at Camberwell College of Art, followed by a Masters in Textile Design at The Royal College of Art.
Q: What business lessons have you learnt running your own company solo and what tips would you give to others starting from scratch?

I’m someone who would like to be able to do everything myself.

A: I think the biggest lesson I have learned is the importance of outsourcing some jobs to share the workload and working with other people who help me achieve my vision. To all those starting from scratch, I’d say just go for it. No matter how small-scale or part-time it might be, just know it takes time to build your business, so the sooner you start, the better.


Q: You have such an eye for print design and colour, what inspired you to take the leap and start your own business?

A: I’ve always designed, and I used to paint a lot. I have a BA in illustration, and that is where I learned printmaking. It was only when I did that, I discovered one could design prints and patterns. When I started printmaking and realised I could do it on fabric, it was a lightbulb moment. Working as a print designer in fashion further pushed me to start my own business.


Q: Which is your favourite Neve & Noor piece and why?

A: It’s so hard to decide. I like all of them. They are simply stunning and vibrant. However, If I had to pick a favourite it would definitely be the Sophia dress in orchid chintz and floral marine.


Q: How would you describe your own personal style, and where does your main inspiration come from when you dress?

A: I love fashion. I’m someone who buys a lot of vintage clothing, and I like to collect things. I’m not so great at having plain pieces stapled. My main inspiration comes from working in textiles; I am really drawn to different textures, patterns, and colours.


Q: At what age did you first realise you had a passion for print and textiles design?

A: I discovered my passion for print and textiles design at a very early age. I was 18 when I moved to London. It was in my early twenties that I knew I love print and textiles.


Q: If you could invite anyone to your dream dinner party who would it be?

A: William Morris- just cause he has had a very big impact on me. I’m very inspired by his designs. He is the main pioneer. I think I could really learn a lot from him at that dinner.


Q: What’s next install for the future at Ellen Merchant's studio?

A: I’m developing my collections. The way that I produce stuff is more expensive than it could be as I’m all about doing it to the highest quality possible. I only print in the UK. I’m doing one design at the moment. I released two designs last year and I am going to release three designs this year. My partner and I work together and we started doing made-to-order furniture last year. That’s going well and it’s super fun. So, it is safe to say that a lot of exciting things are about to happen at my studio this year.


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