We were thrilled this season to collaborate with artist Helen Bullock on a one-of-a-kind hand-painted print for our swim and resortwear collections. The result is a colorful arrangement of freely hand-drawn flowers, lines, and scribbles that flow across the season’s silhouettes. In a signature palette of unexpected colors, the print evokes Araks’ love of drawing and painting.
Helen's artwork is vibrant and energetic with bold colors and roughly drawn shapes that exude confidence and strength. It also radiates authenticity and realness, qualities that are found in things made by hand.
Based in London Helen has worked with top luxury brands and global style publications including Ralph Lauren, Phoebe English, Liberty, Louis Vuitton, Sunday Times Style Magazine, AnOther, and ShowStudio. Her unique aesthetic applied to the pages, fabrics, or windows of each client.
Photo by Helen Bullock
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are now?
It’s been a long and convoluted journey, to be honest! But, aren’t they the best kind! I didn’t go to art school until I was 25… but really that was because when it came to deciding what to study at school I was told not to bother with the subject as I wasn’t that good! Eventually, many years later I found my way to Central Saint Martins.
How did your talent for drawing and painting merge with your interest in fashion?
It was fashion that came first. From an early age, I was ‘designing’ clothes. I once sent a drawing off to Princess Diana, when I was age 7! My favorite show was The Clothes Show. When I made it to art school I studied fashion print design, and the basis of this is a lot of drawing, and painting, so my studies happily married the two together.
How would you describe your aesthetic and your work?
Energetic, authentic, painterly. I think my work is quite diverse. The bold playful scribbles are probably what I’m defined by, but I have a much more sensitive considered side to my work which doesn’t always get a platform.
When working on a collaboration how do you balance a brand’s artistic guidelines with your style?
Luckily I haven’t had too many battles with this issue, as people are usually coming to me for my specific style. However, it’s all about compromise–I find I’m usually willing to bend towards my client’s direction as I believe that they know their customer better than I do.
"I do find overcoming issues and obstacles between client and artist is when the true collaboration comes to light and you end up with a result that neither side expected.”
Can you tell us a little about how you approached our collaboration?
I’d been wanting to work with Araks for so long–I love the product, the beautiful research, and the always sumptuous color palette. So yes, it’s a treat that it’s finally happened! There was quite a lot of backward and forwards between me and the team, and we actually started off on a very different route. Eventually, we found the right direction, and I think we developed a light and breezy pattern that feels true to both of our styles.
Can you talk about the relation of shapes and color in your work?
Do you know what? I’m not sure if I’ve actively considered that before, even though it’s so clear in my work (especially if you look at my M.A collection). In other artists’ work–yes! Always, in fact. But maybe I’ve never really acknowledged that I use that vocabulary. I guess it’s all about harmony, with shapes and color allowing you to find balance. Also with shape - I often like to abstract things, or reduce them to their purest form. I often don’t enjoy a lot of intricate details.
All of your work is done by hand. Why is it important to you to work this way?
It’s so important. For me, it’s the only way I can connect with the artwork.
“I feel my way through my work–even with the speediest scribbles I’m intuitive in terms of the action. In terms of both my work and others that I enjoy, I want to be aware of the human touch. A computer is a real barrier to that experience.”
What do you think illustration can impart that other mediums can not?
I don’t see it as a genre better than another, but the one thing it often gets compared to (in terms of fashion at least) is photography. I think in this instance, especially in terms of show shots, illustration can bring in a stronger mood and more unique vision and interpretation.
Thank you, Helen!
View Helen’s work on her website.
Follow Helen @helenbullock