Herbert Green is a brand of textiles, ceramics, drawings and all things wonderfully creative. Its friendly, handmade aesthetic will take you back to those childhood summers full of fresh grass and picnics – you’ll just be wanting to eat out of “his” handmade bowls and teacups. You will find yourself suddenly overcome with an irrepressible desire to create and draw and cover your hands in clay and paint, completely oblivious to the mess you’ve made in the process – “make play” being one of its manifestos. Herbert Green will make your life that little bit more colourful. We delve into the brand to reveal Rachael Cocker, Herbert’s creator and human alter ego…
Hi Rachael! Who’s Herbert?
Herbert Green is a fictitious character that I invented. Last year I was struggling with how to ‘brand’ my work so I decided to come up with a character’s name that could slip between being a mysterious alias as well as a brand name. I wrote down words and men’s names which I liked and put them together in different combinations. My favourite was Herbert Green so I went with that.
In your own words, how would you best describe the Herbert Green style and aesthetic?
Handmade, playful, colourful and joyful.
What are your first and fondest artistic memories?
My childhood was spent almost entirely making things. One of my fondest artistic memories is from when I was 5 years old; we were going on a family camping holiday to Ireland and my mum gave me a little square sketchbook with brown paper pages for me to make a diary of the trip. I remember feeling so excited to fill it with drawings.
After that it became a tradition for me to make a visual diary of each of our holidays, which is something I still do now any time I go travelling… and more importantly, it began my love affaire and obsession with nice stationary!
Who or what inspires you?
A tidy desk, newly sharpened pencils, travelling, folk art, nature, colour and my boyfriend, Oscar.
What are you like when you’re in the studio creating? What’s your mood?
I like listening to music when I work, either through headphones in the studio or out loud when I’m at home so I can sing along! That gets me relaxed and in a good mood to make things. Once I get excited about something I’m making, I’m not easily distracted. I get completely immersed in what I’m doing, I work quickly and I don’t really talk to people around me.
I love the hand-crafted nature of your work. How does it feel knowing that every piece you create has been made entirely by you as opposed to by a computer or machine?
Thank you! My tendency to work with analogue processes isn’t necessarily a rejection of digital methods. In fact, I often use digital technology for editing illustrations, making patterns and photographing my work. But I think I’m just more of a tactile person; I always get more excited about seeing things in real life than on a screen. For me, making things physically, by hand is a much more engaging experience and one which I really enjoy so it seems natural to do it that way. I love the character and imperfections which come from making things by hand and it’s even better when other people like them and can relate to my work.
What sparks a new idea? Do you just make or draw what you feel like doing at that moment, or is there a plan?
I think my ideas come to me from different places. Sometimes it’s from going to a museum or seeing an exhibition. Maybe something I’ve read, a piece of music I’ve heard or something interesting I see when walking about. I usually start by making lots of drawings and collages whenever I have an idea. These are such immediate processes that I often work really quickly without worrying about the outcome. I like that idea of being able to think through the hand. If I’m working with clay, screen printing or textiles, it often requires a little more planning so I like to experiment and test materials and colours out first. I like the things that can occur by accident or without intention, particularly when I’m totally absorbed in the making process; sometimes this work has the best kind of energy.
It’s great to see such a variation of mediums: it all makes you want to just get out your pencil or paintbrush and create something! (Or even bake… Or eat pudding.) What is your favourite medium and why?
I’m so happy that my work makes people want to eat pudding!
At the moment I’m really enjoying working with collage. I like the graphic, clean shapes you can create by cutting up paper; it’s a very playful process, being able to move things around on the page before sticking them down. I’ve started collecting all my cut up paper scraps in a big box so I have colourful library to delve into any time I feel like making a picture.
Who are your favourite artists and illustrators?
Matisse, of course. I love Picasso’s drawings and ceramics. Anything by Marimekko. Some of my favourite illustrators are Tove Jansson, Beatrice Alemagna and Laura Carlin.
What do you like to do when you’re not in the studio?
Even when I’m not in the studio I’m often making things, as I always like having something to do with my hands. If I’ve been thinking a lot, I like making things which don’t require too much brain power; I do lots of knitting and crocheting which I find really relaxing. I also love cooking, eating, seeing new places and sifting through second-hand shops.
What’s next for Herbert Green?
I’m currently working towards my degree show at Edinburgh College of Art, so after that the world is my oyster! I’m moving back to my hometown, Norwich in September where I’m going to continue collaborating with my talented friend Anna making printed textile creations and more ceramics. That’s the plan for now.