It’s been some time since I’ve featured an inspiring Irish individual on this blog, and when I recently came across Pamela Farrell of Farrell & Chase, I knew instantly that I had to share her magnificent work with you all. Many who know me personally also are aware of the fact that I have an absolute love for all things printed. I am positively enamored by ARTCRANK, the printed bike poster show, and I make a point to always have beautiful personalised stationery and note cards on hand. When we designed our lovely wedding invitations, I was literally in cardstock and ink heaven!
When I happened onto Pamela’s website, Farrell & Chase, I was thrilled to discover her clean and refreshing take on bespoke letterpress designs for wedding, baby + kids, lifestyle and stationery collateral. Impressed and curious, I spent nearly an hour looking at everything and wondering what I must order for myself. (at the very least, I will need new note cards and possibly some invitations made for our farm supper clubs coming in spring, right?!) I also found some stylish bits and pieces on her sweet blog which is linked to her website.
So without any further adieu, I give you Pamela Farrell.
Thank you for agreeing to be featured on my wee blog, Pamela. Where/how did you spend your Irish childhood days? And where in Ireland do you reside now?
I grew up in Dublin as a only child. My mother was a fashion designer and a huge inspiration to me. We are very close and always have been. I remember sitting underneath my mother’s work bench amongst the huge rolls of fabric content to draw pictures and wrapping myself in the fabric ‘designing’ dresses for hours on end. Saturdays were spent in town, starting with breakfast in the Penny Farthing Cafe, then we’d while away the hours walking around town, window shopping and feeding the ducks in St. Stephen’s Green. We lived in Terenure and everyone knew each other, all the children played together, ate dinner in each other’s houses and stayed over at weekends, there was a great sense of community. School holidays and Christmas were spent with my cousins on a farm outside Navan, a big contrast to life in Dublin. My cousin Claire and I were more like sisters growing up and would spend hours playing in the fields. I really did experience the best of both worlds growing up!
After living in Dublin for many years, my mother moved back to Co. Meath when I was in my final year of college, and with no money I had no choice but to move with her. Although I spent alot of time in Navan growing up it was still a big change. I remember the first few nights in our new house, it was so dark and quiet I couldn’t sleep, but I soon got used to it. I have a lot of friends and family in Navan and my boyfriend Alan, now fiance, is also from Navan, so they all helped me settle in.
I did move back to Dublin as soon as I left college. I lived in Christchurch for a few years which I loved, the buzz of city center living is like nothing else. Gradually though, I found myself spending my weekends in Meath again with friends and family. I took the plunge and moved to Meath permanently when I was setting up Farrell & Chase. Myself and Alan are now building a house near Slane, on a site with amazing views over Meath and we hope to move in this Spring before our wedding.
I do miss Dublin from time to time so I try to spend a day in the city every couple of weeks researching ideas, catching up on city life, and generally soaking up the atmosphere.
What motivated you to pursue a career in design?
I always knew I would pursue a design career. I grew up in a very creative family, and was inspired by design and fashion from an early age. I think the creative streak runs through the women in our family. My granny was very artistic, although she never studied design she had a great eye and was a genius with a needle and thread. My mother is a very talented fashion designer and she was always sketching, painting and sewing when I was growing up and we did a lot of arts and crafts together at home.
I was always drawn to graphics and strong, bold shapes and colours so graphic design seemed like a good fit. I studied Visual Communications in DIT and completed a four year degree. I loved every minute of the degree, we studied a vast range of subjects including photography, screenprinting, graphic design and illustration. I was really drawn to screenprinting and was lucky enough to travel to the USA to represent Ireland in a print exchange. I was also very inspired by one lecturer in particular, Jacques, who suggested I print by hand with old wood type for a poster project and he kindly lent me his old letterpress wood type to experiment with.
After graduating, I worked for a few years as a graphic designer in Dublin, and although I was passionate about design I missed the craft of printmaking. I decided to merge my two passions, and inspired by the project I worked on in college using wood type, I traveled to London to complete a course in letterpress. I instantly knew I had made the right decision. I fell in love with the letterpress process and the very unique results it gives. I returned home from London with a determination to launch my own design and letterpress business. I immediately purchased a vintage Adana press and Farrell & Chase was born! That was over two years ago and I have never looked back.
Describe your process.
I always begin by sketching rough ideas on paper, I find that sketching an idea can develop it into something totally different, something which wouldn’t have emerged by designing on the computer. Once I have a good feel for the design I start working it up on the computer, considering colours, sizing, placement and style. When I’m happy with the design the next step is to produce the printing plates, mix the rubber based inks and order the cotton card stock. I print all of my designs on 100% cotton card as it takes an impression perfectly.
I currently have three printing presses a 15×10 Arab Press c1894, an 8×5 Cropperette Press c1888 and an 8×5 Adana Press c1955. Once the chosen press is inked and set up I hand-feed the luxurious 100% cotton paper through the vintage press, one sheet at a time, impressing the artwork into the soft pillowy paper, one colour at a time.
Because all printing is done on antique printing presses, each piece printed is subtly unique. Small variations in inking, color, impression and position are to be expected, but I believe that these small variations are part of what makes letterpress so beautiful.
Who or what creatively inspires you?
I find inspiration from my surroundings, whether I’m in the city or in the countryside the colours, shapes and imagery that I’m surrounded by affects what I’m working on. When I lived in Dublin, I always walked everywhere, I loved taking in the sights and sounds, something as simple as a torn poster could spur an idea instantly. I think sometimes you just have to turn off from the distractions-TV, music, the computer and get away from it all to think clearly. Now my walks are in the countryside and I try to make a point of getting out every day. As a result I’m much more inspired by nature which I think shows in my designs. I’ve just returned from a trip to Rome, a real feast for the senses, and no doubt all that I saw and experienced will influence my next project.
I see you are getting married very soon, will you be designing your own invitations?
Yes, myself and Alan are getting married in Rome next summer and we will honeymoon in the South of Italy. The wedding planning trip to Rome which we’ve just returned from has my head buzzing with design ideas. I’m planning on designing my own wedding stationery over the next couple of weeks, I just need to find the time. I do have a design in mind, but haven’t started working on it yet. Watch this space!
What type of profession would you pursue if you weren’t a designer?
I really can’t imagine not being a designer, it’s part my identity. I could possibly see myself as a fashion designer since fashion was such a huge influence throughout my life and remains so.
What things do you love about Ireland?
I love that you can drive to the opposite side of the country in less than a day, wake up in Dublin and have a nightcap in Clifton! I love the scenery, standing on the top floor of our half built house at the weekend looking out over the green fields as the sun was setting, I couldn’t help but be mesmerised by the beautiful view. Most of all I love the people, Ireland is where my friends and family are, it’s where I was born, it’s part of who I am and it’s home. I know it’s such a cliche but, the craic, the banter between Irish people is so passionate and humorous, whether it’s over a cup of tea or in the pub enjoying a pint, there’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world.
Do you have a favorite quintessential Irish dish?
My granny’s recipe for home made brown bread with real Irish butter and homemade raspberry jam, delicious!
What items would we currently find laying about your desk?
My brown leather Bridge diary which was passed on to me by my mother when she retired as a Fashion Designer. A 21.5 inch iMac, I love the big screen, a must for any designer, coupled with a Wacom tablet and pen. My iPhone. Paper notes, everywhere, I’m always sketching out new ideas and writing to do lists. Pens, pencils and markers for sketching. A picture of myself, my mother and my granny. Sadly my granny passed away a few years ago and didn’t get to see Farrell & Chase up and running. She really would have loved it.
Are you a Coffee or Tea?
I am a green tea drinker, I drink three cups a day at least, and I love hot chocolate, but only indulge on occasion, it’s a real treat on a winter’s day. I have never liked tea or coffee, but I do love the smell of coffee, there’s nothing better than the smell of coffee and freshly baked bread in the morning!
Anything new in the coming up for Farrell & Chase that you’d like to share?
The months ahead are set to be a very exciting for Farrell & Chase. I am currently working on expanding our product range to include a collection of screen printed textile products, including tote bags and tea towels. I will also be introducing some exciting new stationery designs including celtic inspired wedding stationery ready for launching in the new year. January will see the start of the wedding planning season and a busy spring for Farrell & Chase.