A Modern Take on Tortoiseshells
THE NEW. THE CLASSIC. THE FUNNY. THE DARING.
BLACK EYEWEAR FOUNDER AND DESIGNER ROBERT ROOPE WALKS US THROUGH THE VARIETY OF COLORS AND TEXTURES AVAILABLE WITHIN THE TORTOISESHELL FAMILY.
You’re a woman of many, many talents – You’re an illustrator, author and textile designer – how are you finding lockdown? Is it very different from before for you?
In many ways, life is still very similar to how it was before as I’ve spent the past ten years working in solitude in my studio every day, so am very good at being on my own. What I do find hard is that I cannot nip out for a coffee to be amongst others.It was usually a daily routine for me to grab a coffee after my daily trip to posting orders at the local post office. I also miss seeing friends. The part I find most challenging during this lockdown is listening to the news and worrying about all the suffering this virus is causing, especially to those that are losing loved ones, to families that are living in poverty and those that might be living with abuse. These are the worries that keep me awake at night.
Do you have any rituals you can share for keeping inspired and your creativity motivated?
In the past few weeks, I’ve made a conscious decision to create new products and designs in my webshop – ones that are hopefully more sensitive and relevant to this current crisis. (My work has been very different as I usually focus on just my prints and handmade toys). For example, I created a new category called ‘letterbox’ gifts – simple and affordable gifts that can be sent through a letterbox. My first designs were little hand-illustrated ‘characters with love’ to send to loved ones. These then turned into ‘Make Your Own’ paper doll kits and then onto ‘Make Your Own’ fabric doll kits. I also designed a card with a pocket of meadow flower seeds to send to loved ones, some free downloadable colouring sheets for children and some embroidery kits. I’ve been very inspired to see how creatives are helping with various fundraising so I designed a limited edition print with all proceeds going to the NHS frontline workers charity. I shall be supporting other charities soon.
My rituals are the same as before – I get up early and am straight in my studio after breakfast, reading emails, processing and packing orders, visiting the post office (albeit on a less regular basis), and making / sewing items in the afternoon and evening.
How do you juggle working at home with family life?
This is much easier than I thought as our daughter is now 12 and is good at Independent home school learning. However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t keep checking on how she is and am sometimes asked to print out worksheets and help explain the odd bit of maths homework! We also make it a ritual to keep having family cups of tea breaks in the garden and the odd walk.
Do you have any books or films that you’ve read or watched during this time that resonates with you?
We’ve been enjoying watching Escape to the Chateau as a family as it’s pure escapism. I’ve been very mindful to not watch too much of the news in front of our daughter so when we’re all watching TV together, we watch shows that she chooses that are fun and uplifting. These include back episodes of Travel Man! I’m not someone that reads a lot of fiction – I’ve recently been reading some of the ‘Do Lectures’ books – one of my favourites is titled ‘Do / Pause’ – you are not a to-do list! by Robert Poynton.
Anybody we should all follow to keep our spirits up?
I’ve been enjoying following Holly Tucker (who started Not on the Highstreet) – she has a great podcast where she interviews lots of creative people – I love hearing the story behind people’s brands such as ‘Green and Black’ chocolate or the guy on the new ‘Mend it’ tv programme, to name but a few.
Favourite jazz record?
It’s still Dave Brubeck’s Take Five! – My background was in music and I spent 5 years at music college. Whilst I was there, we had to create a dance to this, which was a bit of a challenge! I still love it.
Favourite pair of Black Eyewear?
Monk glasses! I live in these – I have two pairs, one black and one red.