illustrator interview – stacie swift

:: by Lizzie


Do you use old school or new school tools when creating your work?

I use a bit of both. Pretty much all of my work starts out as a pencil, then pen, drawings. Once I am happy with the black and white drawn images I add colour and create compositions digitally.


Show and tell your piece of work. Describe your submission for Old School.

My submission to the Old School theme was a series of alphabet prints inspired by vintage flashcards. I think they are quite a good summary of my work as a whole; bright, bold and fun – and hopefully they are just as appealing to adults as they are to children.




What is your creative process?

All of my work starts out as a rough idea in a sketchbook or on a loose sheet of paper. I’m not one of these people who have beautifully presented sketchbooks! Scribbled roughs are usually followed by some internet research for image references from which I begin to make pencil drawings. When I am happy with those I reproduce a final version of the drawing in black fineliner and scan the images into Photoshop to colour, edit and compose my finished artwork.




Does your work represent your personality?

I’d like to think that my sentimental nature and sense of humour come across in my work so hopefully they are representative of those elements of my personality.


Describe your studio space.

My studio at the minute is a big white box! Having recently moved, the walls have yet to have any colour on them and nothing is quite finished. Eventually I’d like this studio space to have lots of well- designed storage and a bit more personality but for now it’s more function over style – though the view out on to fields, chickens and a horse more than make up for this!


What’s your earliest memory of drawing/creating?

When I was growing up, every Saturday we would spend the day with my Nanny Mary who lived a road away from us. She was a brilliant, straight-talking woman with a Scottish accent she never lost even though she’d spent 70 odd years in London. From the minute we could hold pens she was keeping us quiet by telling us to ‘draw a little man’ on the back of her placemats. I think the novelty of being able to draw on someone’s tableware made the creative process even more enjoyable.


Did you have an imaginary friend?

I don’t remember having an imaginary friend; my dad used to make up lots of stories about animals he’d met on his day at work and have me mesmerised for hours with their adventures so I think my imagination tend to stray toward characterful animals even then…


Did you know at school what you wanted to be?

When I was very little I wanted to be a hot dog lady. Then I wanted to be a journalist. Then a lingerie designer. I hadn’t even considered illustration as an option until I was almost 20 and when I was 23 that I went back to study illustration.


What advice would you give now to your ‘old school self’?

The advice I would give to my old school self would be to be more confident – and not to worry, it will all work out in the end!


Smug’s colour is yellow. What colour best represents you?

I think my colour is probably a teal blue. I use it a lot in my artwork and I think it’s a good strong colour that can be both sensible and a bit more fun.


If you had to choose one Smug product what would it be?

Argh, I find it so hard to limit myself to one. The vintage jumper toys are a long-time favourite though. Especially the pigs.



smug 012


SMUG was the first ever shop to carry Stacie’s work and we’re proud to have several exclusives designed for us by her. The Lizzie’s Favourite Things Mini Print Set pictured above, and our I Feel Smug Card can both be found in store and online.  Stacie is also running a workshop upstairs at SMUG, with Emma Block, called ‘Insiders Guide to a Career in Illustration’ and you can buy tickets here.



insiders guide

‘my angel’ area guide

:: by Lizzie

This year marks SMUG’s fifth birthday since opening on Camden Passage, so founder Lizzie Evans talks to Mark Kebble of The Angel Resident about why Islington is the place for her.




What new things can we expect to see at SMUG this spring?

Workshops! We’re now running workshops upstairs at SMUG every Sunday. Designers, tutors and friends of SMUG are running classes on book binding, screen printing, origami, millinery, flower arranging and more. It’s a great way to learn a new skill and spend an afternoon in our cosy design space. We’re hoping we’ll have a café set up downstairs too for tea and cake.


Is there one particular thing flying out of the shop door at the moment?

Our Pineapple and Guinea Pig patterned Tea Towel is just wonderful and catching everyone’s imagination. Peach pineapples and duck egg guineas – what could be better? I worked on the design with Thornback and Peel who have produced it exclusively for us and I’m so happy with the result. Apron and oven gloves coming soon too.


Also something we’ve noticed on the side is your blog. How much do you enjoy producing The Smuggler website?

The Smuggler, my blog at, is a really satisfying opportunity for me to have my own voice, inside and running parallel to the world of SMUG. I am The Smuggler so I’m able to write about food, interior design, fashion, the cities I love, my hotel reviews for A Hotel Life and design in general. In short, my inspirations and loves. There are lots of posts for the SMUG insider too. It gives me the space and the platform to interview SMUG illustrators for example and to include my visits on sourcing trips to design fairs or gift guides I’ve been working on, so hopefully there’s something for everyone.


How long have you been based on Camden Passage for now?

It’s coming up to five years. SMUG will be five in June. My plan has always been to launch my own collection of homeware for SMUG’s fifth year, so I’d better get on with that!


Did you always want to open a shop here?

For me there was no other location than Camden Passage. It was always going to be SMUG’s home as soon as I had the idea to open a design shop in Islington. It just seemed right. Camden Passage seems to beautifully hold in tension, being at the heart of Islington but also off the beaten track. There aren’t many other places like it.


What’s great about being based along Camden Passage?

The history of Camden Passage makes it special and the antiques markets bring the history back to life. Also the people. I have found it to be a lovely and welcoming area – shopkeepers, stallholders and locals alike. I enjoy being part of something a bit more independent than the chains of Upper Street.


You are an Islington girl through and through aren’t you?

I am definitely an Islington girl through and through. I’ve lived in Islington my whole life, went to school here, go to church here, my family’s here, it’s my home. I know it and live it and it’s always best to work with/in what you know I think.


What’s the best thing about living here?

If you’ve lived here your whole life like I have it really is like living in a village. I often see someone I know in the street or in a restaurant and stop for a chat. But it’s London through and through. Food, shops, parks, the buzz. I love it.


Apart from your shop, where else do you enjoy visiting retail-wise?

I like a walk and a shop along Stoke Newington Church Street. Nook for gifts, Hub for womenswear, random alleyways and garages for vintage furniture. This mix of my favourite things, combined with meat from Meat, fresh bread from Spence and a bunch of flowers from one of the many florists make a perfect Sunday.


Do you have a favourite restaurant and bar?

Ottolenghi every day of the week. Sometimes literally. If I’m coming for lunch, usually with my mum, we’re welcomed like queens. If I’m just popping in for a sweet treat I don’t even need to order, they know what I’m after: the chocolate pecan cookie.


How about coffee shop?

The Place at 11 Canonbury Place in Canonbury has the best coffee in Islington and the décor is rather lovely too! I fitted it out with vintage Formica tables and 50s chairs for my brother who is the chef and runs the business. It’s such a lovely spot to while away the hours. I don’t drink coffee, but they serve delicious hot chocolate and well as perfect freshly squeezed orange juice. All the food is wonderful and the welcome (even if you’re not a member of the family) lovely.


If out for an evening of culture, where would you head to?

The Screen on the Green for an 80s classic or maybe the Union Chapel for a gig. There’s now a gallery downstairs at The Place run by my father, so soirees there are always a nice evening. My husband and I probably now spend most of the time entertaining in our newly decorated art deco flat next to Clissold Park.


Do you have a favourite building in the area?

Yes, the old Arsenal Stadium in Highbury. The period of architecture is right up my street not to mention the obvious emotional connections. A wonderful building. A wonderful place.


Finally Lizzie, is there one spot in Islington you like to head to and get away from it all?

Clissold Park. Whether for a run, a picnic, lawn bowls, a paddle in the summer or simply watching the deer, it’s my favourite spot.