Professional scalpel wielder Poppy Chancellor is well known for her iconic paper cut designs and sexy, tongue in cheek illustrations. She’s a hot topic on the craft scene and has caught the eye of some seriously big brands. She hosted the very first GF Smith blogger event, and released her first book CUT IT OUT! which she put together inside a year. Needless to say she’s a driven and focused artist but she also has a ton of personality and energy to offer too.
I made a visit to her South London studio to check out her new art crib and find out about her current projects. But after 2.5 hours of non-stop gassing about anything and everything, I deduced 2 things: 1; I still hadn’t taken any shots. And 2, I hadn’t asked her any of my prepared questions. Not a’one.
Instead we caught up on family, friends, the hell that is buying property in London, keeping ahead of the game, the health problems that come with grasping a scalpel all day long, yoga balls and houseplants. Yes, houseplants.
Poppy is engaging, vivacious, so photogenic it makes you sick, and hysterically funny – hence the non-stop chat. Could I see her on TV, with her natural vibrancy leading viewers through genuinely cool craft workshops? Hell yes. Would I tune in to her podcast, if she made one? Just tell me when and where.
Poppy’s studio is much like her: it POPS. A pared back, white-walled minimalist office space is broken up with custom chipboard shelving, bold block colours and graphic shapes. Small and perfectly situated, this space shouts “I’m here!” from the corner, amongst a few other more ‘grown up’ modern desk areas in this cool shared creative space.
Brand mascots such as boobies, Riri, and long-lashed eyes all watch over the compact work desk area. A hot pink chair marries up with a tweed retro ‘70s number – this is where the boss sits. If she had a flag to mark her domain I think it would have to be red, white and black- which are the colours of Poppy herself of course. With her sharp black bob, white skin and red lips she’s a vision of a modern Snow White, but with attitude and an Instagram account.
My minimalist heart loves all the organisation within the space, and the way that the eclectic mixture of objects tells a vibrant story, without excess or clutter. The filing system is organised to the point of pure satisfaction and the space gives a sense of a girl who is focused: there is only room for relevant things here.
Poppy’s work refers to what she calls Modern Venus: themes of womanhood, sex and symbolism crop up a lot in her work – and in our meandering chat.
“Whether it’s an exhibition or a new book, my work always rotates to what it means to be a woman. I love being able to show women in a light hearted, strong and realistic way. I’ve always been inspired by visually iconic ladies like Cleopatra, Iris Apfel or the Queen.”
I first met Poppy at her workshop at The Handmade Fair and she has been teaching workshops for a good few years prior to that.
“I work alone in my studio most of the time so meeting people who love what I do and want to learn about it is really fun. I love teaching and sharing what I’ve learnt. The resurgence in craft means that lots of people want to experience more of the hand-made. I’ve lead workshops at some amazing places; The Tate, V&A, Bestival and I’m looking forward to my first time at Port Eliot this year”
So cool! But what’s the worst part about teaching workshops?
“The worst part about workshops is carrying 30 cutting mats around, they’re so heavy!”
What do you know now that you didn’t know when you were studying?
“I’ve learnt more about working directly with clients and delivering them an image or experience that they want. The Royal Drawing School focuses very much on your practice as an artist and your growth as a creative. It’s great to be able to take what I learnt about myself and what I enjoy making and turn that into a profession. I keep learning along the way.”
You’re favourite haunts around Brixton?
“I love Brixton Market, you can get all types of food all under one roof, Okan is my fave restaurant there at the moment. Also Herne Hill market on a Sunday does a mean sausage roll. I’ve just discovered Kingshield stationers which is hidden above a pharmacy and no one seems to know it’s there.”
On my next visit I might have to ask that we don’t talk until after the work has been done, otherwise I’ll forget to do any work yet again. If you haven’t already laid hands on Poppy’s incredible book you can pick it up here and I honestly I can’t recommend it enough, I think it’s a great publication. Produced to a high standard, it’s the perfect gift for the creative person in your life and I can’t argue with that price point. Watch this space for more exciting news from Poppy later in the year – it’s going to be a good one!