Chrissie Abbott is a freelance illustrator - as well as designing artwork for electro-pop star Little Boots, her images have enlivened the pages of The New York Times and Wallpaper magazine, been used in ad campaigns for Virgin, Orange and MTV, and adorned T-shirts for Urban Outfitters, Vans and Jaguar Shoes.
Her work often collages different images: vintage-feel snapshots of birds or teapots are twined together with psychedelic swirls, mushrooms and curling locks of hair. She’s also got a fondness for unusual typefaces, bright colours, and 1970s poster and sleeve art. This pick’n’mix work ethic can also be seen in her home, a Victorian semi-detached house in Hackney, which Abbott and her housemates enliven with retro trinkets.
“The house is divided into two flats, and there are four of us in mine, plus two friends upstairs,” says 27-year-old Abbott. “We’ve all got really similar tastes, and so everyone adds bits in. Everything is from charity shops, vintage shops – there’s nothing new and spangly! It just seems less sterile that way.”
As well as providing a certain DIY chic that you’d only expect of an artist’s shared house in East London, their thrifty ways also make a virtue of a necessity. As Abbott explains "it’s a bit of challenge to buy nice things for nothing.”
Many of her decorations also have a personal element to them. The throws she and her housemates chuck around to make the flat feel homely include a green tartan blanket that belonged to her granddad, while the cheesy drawing of Cliff Richard is an in-joke with her brother writ large. “When we were growing up, we had this postcard of Cliff Richard, and we’d hide it in weird places. It would crop up every few months – you’d find it in the fusebox, or the bathroom cupboard. We haven’t lived with each other for six years now, but Cliff has come back – my brother bought me that picture last Christmas.”
Many of Abbott’s illustrations feature animals, and it’s a fascination that’s reflected in her home, including the new cat-adorned crockery she’s made for Jaguar Shoes. “I do like using animals, it brings in a bit of personality, and Persian cats just look so ridiculous.” Abbott has no desire for a real pet however; sticking their furry faces on a plate is the closest she’ll get to having a cat in her home.
But she does have her collections of animal figurines. “I like collecting things, like my ceramic owls and horses. Me and my friend Fran used to buy each other owls all the time and then we’d paint them – and now other people get them for me too. I do like an owl.”
While the flat features a couple of pieces of her work – mostly to fill gaps, she insists with a hint of embarrassment – Abbott prefers to put up personal photos and old pictures. “It seems a bit weird, looking at my own stuff.”
Abbott does most of her work in her nearby studio, and says she likes to keep her work and home separate. “I used to work from home, and became a weird recluse – I would do my work from my bed and not go out, like some kind of social outcast!”
However, the working from bed hasn’t entirely ceased; Abbott explains she gets a lot of her ideas in the wee small hours: “I do do a lot of work on my laptop, so if I need to I can get up and do things at home in the middle of the night.” Under the watchful eyes of Sir Cliff and the owls, inspiration is surely never too far away …
Chrissie Abbott has designed a limited edition range for Jaguar Shoes, available from No One, 1 Kingsland Rd, Shoreditch, London E2 8AA or online at www.jaguarshoes.com