Molly Lambourn is a soon-to-be 2019 History graduate from the University of Warwick, ready to embark on her art career.
Already beginning her new business in fine art, Lambourn set up her own website under her brand, Sophie Stokes (https://www.sophiestokes.com). Here, you can view the collection of Molly’s designs which are available for purchase.
Sophie Stokes Design: Beautiful, Bespoke and Quirky original designs printed onto everday products. Jewellery, homeware and apparel.
- To introduce yourself to the readers, how would you describe yourself in three interesting facts?
· I am teaching in India over the summer; I am passionate about education!
· I have worked as a waitress, bank intern and librarian and now I am emerging as an artist!
· I love animals, probably more than people and I try to spend as much time as possible around them.
2. Could you describe your journey with art, and how you were able to figure out that this is something you wanted to do whilst studying History, an academic subject in contrast to the creative industries?
I have always been a creative person, I have always been obsessed with anything visual; film, fashion, art galleries and even food. We are surrounded by visual image; our society is immersed in it without realising so. I have known for a long time that Art was my true passion, even while studying history I studied visual sources like films, posters and cartoons. Before University my Art won a few awards and while at University I have tried to do a few small exhibitions, have continued to make art and regularly attended life drawing sessions. I studied as a gender historian and explored the past through culture. After completing two internships at a bank I realised that corporate companies were not for me and that I preferred to work for myself and on things that I cared about. I am doing a Fine Art Masters in September and have launched my new business to support myself while I build up my reputation as a Fine Artist.
3. How did the name Sophie Stokes come about for your art persona?
I realise that art can be elitist and therefore I have created two art persona’s or brands. Sophie Stokes is my affordable design brand while Molly Lambourn Artist is the persona for my deeper, critical work which will feature in galleries. Sophie Stokes is a pseudonym based on my middle name Sophie and my mothers maiden name Stokes. As a brand that champions feminist icons like Frida and Boudica, I liked the idea of taking on my mother’s maiden name and giving it a legacy.
4. Your mission to “challenge the boundaries of art” and question “why it has to be confined to the walls of galleries” sounds very inspiring. Could you tell me a little about where this arose from?
I think art is a difficult field to be successful in, you seem to have to know people or have money to be acknowledged. However, art is not just about critics and galleries. This brand is about ordinary people who like beautiful things, it is about knowing that anyone can be an artist and that anyone can own art. Art is not just a canvas but something which can be printed anywhere. I want my designs to be accessible, coming from a working-class background means that I know how exclusive art can seem. Yet, we can all see, and we can all enjoy art- so this brand celebrates that.
5. I like the tagline “quirky, beautiful and original” on your website. Is there a meaning behind this?
At Warwick I have sometimes found it hard to be myself, it is quite a corporate place and often creativity will get laughed at. I think people feel a need to fit into a paticular image and aesthetic. This tagline is about breaking free from that and expressing your inner individuality, not being scared about your beliefs or the way you want to look. It also perfectly describes the nature of my designs.
6. At university, (especially one that only offers the History of Art as suppose to strictly Fine Art degrees), how did you find the accessibility towards expressing your art and finding a group of creatives on campus or in the surrounding areas?
I found it quite hard to find creative communities that I could connect with until I joined Warwick Art Society in Third Year. I enjoyed going to their workshops and sessions. I also found that discussing art with friends revealed that a lot of people have creative passions. We are all shy about it and scared to do anything with our talent! I think the University could do more for creatives.
7. You’re selling self-made cufflinks, earrings, necklaces, badges, and tote bags, to postcards and stationary cases, to place mats, coasters, cushions and even gym towels. How do you find the fine art business so far? Are there some obstacles you had to overcome in the process?
I was lucky enough to receive funding from the University to start up which solved the obstacle of the money needed for a start-up. It took me a long time to find the perfect suppliers for different products and to find a range of products which would allow me to make a worthwhile profit. It is hard going to begin with, a lot of people support artists but do not actually buy their work. Now I am just focusing on getting myself known and promoting the business, I am hoping the sales will improve with time! I think I have found it most difficult to have the confidence to believe in myself and what I am doing, it is terrifying to try and make a success of something that you love and that can truly make you happy.
8. What is your favourite design/product of yours, if you can pick one?
Currently I absolutely love ‘Antoinette’s Tea-Party’, it is the design that inspired me to launch my business. It’s decadent, different and mysterious. I named it after Marie Antoinette because its how I would imagine her to decorate her hair, it has got the elaborate detail and style that she maintained in the French court. I adore Hummingbirds and they represent a crossover between Sophie Stokes and my Fine Art.
9. Would you credit your inspiration to anyone? Do you have a favourite artist, for example?
My main inspirations are Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin. Perry inspires my Fine Art because of his raw, fearless attitude to life. Emin inspires my business because she started out herself with a shop, she even graduated from UCA- the University where I will be doing my Masters. She would sell anything and call it art; I think what I’m doing is very different, but we have a similar grass roots approach and like her I’m based in Kent. I also owe a lot to Damien Hirst, after reading his biography I learnt a lot about the confidence you need to promote your creativity. He argues that success has nothing to do with the quality of your art but your belief in your ability and your ability to brand yourself, art is more than an image but a collection of ideas, emotions and relationships. It symbolises society, the artist and a message.
10. How does your shop on your website operate?
All my products are available online (www.sophiestokes.com) and can be bought via PayPal. It is simple and is separated into homeware, stationery and accessories. After a few years I would like to move into apparel however I want to generate a strong enough following before taking this step. Fans who spend over £20 will receive a special free gift with their order!
11. What’s the goal for your art business, for the future?
My main career goal is to be a Fine Artist which will likely generate my main income. I want Sophie Stokes to support me on that journey and provide a small income which allows me to be self-sustainable. I would like to see the brand retailed at different shops one day as well, but these things don’t happen overnight. If I begin to generate a good enough income then I want the business to promote positivity and be used for social good, whether that be to support mindfulness and mental health or to donate small amounts of money to nature charities.
Check out Molly Lambourn’s art portfolio
Interviewed by Jill