This Artist Creates Eclectic Collages Inspired By Singapore and Her Love of Vintage Style
“Beautiful design has been a part of my everyday life,” says Louise Hill, founder of Singapore-based studio Louise Hill Design. The artist and designer grew up surrounded by the beautiful curios collected by her artistic parents, who worked in advertising and various other design disciplines.
Hill started her creative journey as a junior designer at her father’s advertising practice, followed by stints at UK practices Peter Windett & Associates and Ian Logan Design; she worked on the packaging design of brands such as Crabtree & Evelyn, Fortnum & Masons and Whittard's Coffee.
“I loved working for these kinds of traditional brands, we worked with a lot of beautiful illustration and finely crafted typography, creating a strong heritage feel in a contemporary way,” shares Hill. “This style has definitely shaped the way I work today, using lots of fine and multi-layered details in my prints.”
Her namesake studio Louise Hill Design was first established in Hong Kong, retailing her limited-edition art prints. “I decided to take inspiration from daily life around me, using imagery of what I found beautiful, intriguing and fun and transfer it to my artwork,” she says. “In a city like Hong Kong which has so much beauty, energy and character by the bucketload; it was great fun and exciting coming up with ideas for my first few designs.”
Today, our sunny city-state provides as much creative fodder for Hill as her travels; she moved to Singapore six years ago with her husband Ryan Hill, a director at a consultancy firm, and their twin sons. Among Hill’s best-selling works are the eclectic collages she creates featuring inspiring vignettes of the local architecture as well as colourful vintage decor and furnishings.
Here, she tells us more about her creative process and plans ahead for the studio.
What inspired your decision to start the studio? Where did it begin and why?
Louise Hill (LH) My husband Ryan and I decided to take a year out of work to travel; with us both having a huge sense of adventure, we fell in love with Australia and Asia, and settled in Melbourne for three years. We went back to the UK for the arrival of my beautiful twin boys, which was followed by a new job for Ryan in Shanghai where our Asia adventure began. After four fantastic years of soaking up the Shanghainese culture, we arrived in Hong Kong; with my boys in school, I was able to focus on my career again.
I decided I needed to create a business that was portable which focused on my existing skill set. I didn't want to return to working in a design agency and instead had my heart set on building my own dream business that I could initially start from home whilst juggling work and looking after a young family.
Six years ago we moved to Singapore, the start of a new exciting chapter in our lives. I also moved my business here and I found my perfect studio to rent at creative Wessex Estate. The area is home to many artists who live and work here; it's a friendly community and I love the green, peaceful setting among the architecture of the old Black and White Houses.
Could you tell us more about your creative process?
LH My process can be lengthy as my work is very detailed and multi-layered. I start with a sketch of an idea, mood boards, scribbles, words, notes on colours and then I start to piece together photographic imagery like the pieces of a huge jigsaw puzzle.
Unlike some types of collage art, all of my images are my own. So I spend a lot of time taking photos of buildings, textures, street furniture and textiles and collecting lots of vintage objets d'art to photograph. Some parts of my artworks are illustrated and those drawings are in turn photographed and added to a huge digital artwork on my computer. I then print my finished file in archival non-fade inks onto cotton canvas or German etching paper; some of these limited edition prints are then hand-finished in metallic inks or foil.
I feel lucky that the first half of my career was pre-computer so we drew everything by hand for the illustrations and typography design. I then learnt to use the computer as a tool—I like to combine both traditional and new skills to create my work.
What keeps you inspired to continue creating?
LH I never ever run out of ideas! I always have a big list of projects on the go. If anything, I never seem to be able to calm my mind—inspiration is everywhere, wherever I go. I love the architecture (in Singapore), from the Peranakan neighbourhood of Joo Chiat where I used to live in an old shophouse to the incredible modern award-winning buildings which push the boundaries of design. The Jewel at Changi Airport is an absolute gem!
In addition to my own personal artworks, there are always new collaborations to explore, private commissions to take, new clients to work with. But the one thing I absolutely love is the wonderful heartfelt messages I get from my customers who often send me photos of my prints in their new homes—that great little message you get from someone who really appreciates what you do makes it all worthwhile.
How has it been like working during the circuit breaker period in Singapore? How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your business and creative process?
LH Luckily I wasn't affected badly at all! As my work was already available to buy online, I made sure I had plenty of stock for the busiest months of the year, and I was still able to thrive during May and June. Many expatriate customers who were leaving Hong Kong and Singapore bought my prints to serve as fond memories of living in places they called home.
Could you share more about your plans ahead for your studio?
LH I have a new design planned for Singapore—I want to capture the city on a local level, taking in everyday objects, street life, and different cultural references. The details tend to evolve organically once I start but I have been slowly collecting images out and about with my camera and vintage objects to photograph.
I have some packaging design launching soon, a collaboration with another local brand and some other projects with outside clients in the pipeline. I have also started accepting private appointments every Friday at the studio; customers can book an appointment online via my website to come for an informal hour-long chat or to simply browse, buy or order my work.