“My mum has a great eye for design and a keen interest in art, so she’d pick me up from netball and take me to an art exhibition,” recalls Jessica Kaye, the creator of By Bambi, a beautiful range of prints for children’s rooms…
Have you always been creative?
I was always surrounded by art as a child. My mum has a great eye for design and a keen interest in art, so she’d pick me up from netball and take me to an art exhibition. I remember falling in love with Craig Ruddy and Del Kathryn Barton as a twelve-year-old, and iconic designers like Fornasetti. I was also lucky enough to grow up with older sisters who were (and still are) very creative. We’d spend hours acting out skits, drawing, painting and making elaborate hand-crafted cards.
When did you start focusing on illustration?
I fell in love with delicate illustrative work two years ago. I bought a new set of watercolour paints and painted a fire truck series for my nephew’s third birthday. I adored every minute of it. Having always painted with oil paints it was a big change for me. With watercolours – you can never take away a stroke or cover it up, nor can you use “white paint” – so any white space is actually the page left unpainted. It’s incredibly intricate and challenging, but such a thrill.
What inspired you to launch your business?
I’ve always painted artworks for my nieces and nephews’ rooms. I like the idea of them starting their own little art collection and being surrounded by contemporary art, just like I was as a kid. I soon discovered that my sister and sister-in-law were just as delighted. The kids’ rooms were transformed from childish to funky with artworks covering the walls. I started sharing my pieces on Instagram and it was clear that there was a demand for stylish modern art that could grow with a kids’ room. So at the beginning of this year, I launched By Bambi, a boutique online store selling contemporary pieces designed for kids rooms (though often mums hold onto them for themselves!). I had multiple requests for bespoke artworks, so I also do commissions for high-end nurseries, which is a lot of fun.
What has been the hardest thing about launching/running your own business?
Multi-tasking! I soon discovered that you wear a lot of hats running your own business. You can go from being an artist, to an accountant, to a marketer, to a producer, to a strategist, to a content creator, in one day. It’s hard to know which hat to wear sometimes and how to navigate between those different roles, whilst still keeping on track! I’ve found establishing a weekly routine and making sure I spend my mornings getting my hands dirty painting, really helps.
What about the most rewarding thing?
The most rewarding aspect of my business is seeing parents fall in love with the artworks, which evoke memories of their own childhood. Also, hearing how the prints have transformed a “kiddy” space into one with a bit of style and sophistication, is very encouraging.
Talk us through the illustrations available on your site...
My Scribbles collection is a series of line drawings, most of which are drawn with one continuous line. I’ve always loved minimalist design and have gravitated towards Japanese and Scandinavian pieces at home. So I felt inspired to create a line drawing series with a subtle Japandi edge. I love the challenge of bringing a character to life with as few lines as possible and soon realised that the most seemingly ‘simple’ designs are the hardest to pull off. My Scribbles collection has been really well received, so I decided to turn some of my animal line drawings into wall decals. Available in matte black and gold, they’re a really easy way of injecting some edge into a room and instantly stylising a space. My Watercolours collection was a completely different challenge. I wanted to encapsulate a sense of childhood nostalgia and focus on a single subject matter with incredible detail. Each piece is made up of layer upon layer of intricate paint, making it appear like the artwork is jumping off the page. They are delicate but very vibrant.
How would you advise we style them in children's rooms - for example, which ones are your favourite to mix together?
Buying sets of three is really popular, as it makes the room feel complete and stylised. Mixing together Panda, Rhi-Know and Spotted with a white background and natural frame, for example, is a favourite. And if the space allows – the 60x60cm size is quite striking. For a girl’s room, I really love mixing pink line drawings with pink watercolours. A bestselling pair has been Pooped (pink background) with Little Uni – both with natural oak frames. I’ve also just released a one-line Scribble series of trucks – Garbage, Bull-Dozin and On-Fire – which instantly funks up a boy’s room. My nephew is obsessed with the garbage truck, but not quite as much as his dad!