If like many of us you spend too much of your day doomscrolling, it’s easy to feel down on yourself and the world around you. To keep from drowning in the sea of negativity, it helps to double down on what makes you feel happy and fulfilled. For UK–based graphic designer Hattie Fellowes, founder of The Violet Eclectic, it’s creating lively pop art that brightens your day.
Filled with positive affirmations, Hattie’s retro-style illustrations are like pep talks from your bestie when you need a confidence boost. She encourages us all to embrace and celebrate what makes us different, and reminds us to not stress the “dumb shit.” Although her art has a sunny disposition, it doesn’t pretend like everything is hunky-dory all the time. It isn’t that one dog in the “This is Fine” meme. Her designs acknowledge the ups and downs of life while also providing commentary on societal issues, including children’s safety in schools.
We recently caught up with Hattie to talk about everything from self-care to the best advice she’s received lately. Learn more about her art and see designs from her shop, The Violet Eclectic.
Your bright, upbeat art brings to mind the hippie movement of the 1960s both visually and thematically. What drew you to this retro aesthetic and in what ways do you put your own modern spin on it?
Hattie Fellowes: I have always been drawn to the pop art movement and the icons within it. So much so that in art classes at school I was always being told off for working with bold outlines, in-your-face colors, and in a very simplistic, cartoon-like way…[My teachers] believed I needed to adopt a more sketch-like, realistic approach to my artwork. I love the fun, bold, and rebellious imagery that made the pop art movement what it was. I’ve never been one to follow the crowd and I just loved how the whole ’60s and ’70s rebelled against what had been before. There was a voice and different was a good thing. I think that’s why I take so much from those eras and it heavily influences what I do. I just give it a modern day spin relating it to modern issues and using technology to create what I do.
Who are some of your biggest influences as an artist?
HF: All the greats that made pop art what it was have always had my heart. Keith Haring, Peter Max, Lichtenstein, Yayoi Kusama…I have been obsessed with what they do for so many years now.
Self-care is a recurring theme in your work. What are some of your favorite ways to practice self-care and de-stress?
HF: Funny enough, designing is a massive part of my self-care. Drawing, creating, making…I am my most content, stress-free self when I am doing those things, so I make a lot of my self-care-focused pieces while I am practicing self-care myself.
Though your art often encourages the viewer to see the bright side of things, designs like “Waves” illustrate that being happy all the time just isn’t realistic. How important is it to process emotions such as grief and sadness? Is it essential to achieving true happiness?
HF: I think achieving true happiness stems from accepting that you can’t be happy all the time. That in order to get the highs of life, you have to experience the lows. We need to realize that it is ok to not be ok all the time and that life is hard but the good times will come again (even if it doesn’t feel like it). With accepting that, you allow yourself the time you need to move on and process events, something I believe is essential in looking after yourself and ultimately leading to a healthier mindset.
Where do you go for your daily dose of positivity?
HF: My son is my daily dose of positivity. He was diagnosed with autism at the age of three and I have just loved seeing the world from his perspective. He cracks me up. Everything I do is for him. He has to work a lot harder to get through his day to day and yet can still come away from it smiling, singing, and dancing away. He’s my little inspiration.
There are a lot of people in the United States that feel a sense of hopelessness after recent events including the Supreme Court ending federal abortion rights. In desperate times like these, what can people do to lift each other’s spirits and feel empowered?
HF: After the last few years, more than ever we need to be uniting together, bringing each other up and looking out for one another. By doing so we will empower one another to stand up for what is right. We all have a voice, and the voice is far more powerful in big numbers, so it is time to ally together and stand up against those who are trying to push us back in a corner. We also need to try and be that bit kinder. You never know what someone is going through and you never know if that one good deed you do could very well save someone’s life. So if you do see an opportunity to be kind or help today, please, please take it.
Your designs give a lot of great advice including “Be unapologetically yourself” and “Don’t stress the dumb shit.” What’s the best advice you’ve received lately?
HF: My therapist recently told me whenever I’m having a negative thought that I just can’t shift and it’s taking over my day to ask myself “Is that thought rational? Do you actually have any evidence to back that thought up?” Turns out most of the time I have zero evidence I could use to back that thought up most of the time, and it has helped me so much when times have been getting tough.
You’ve designed for fashion brands including Lucy & Yak and Warehouse. What did you learn from those experiences as an artist?
HF: I loved getting to be a part of the behind the scenes of it all. I’ve always had a strong interest in fashion and designing graphics for clothing so learning all the little things to consider whilst doing that, seeing all the mock ups and shoots coming together was just amazing. I am so grateful to have had those experiences. I would love to do more of that kind of thing going forward.
What’s the coolest part about seeing your art on apparel?
HF: I still have the pinch-me moments of seeing what I have drawn up on an actual object. It’s crazy. As someone who has struggled with confidence in their ability for years, now it definitely has given me a bit of a confidence boost knowing people like what I do. I still find it hard to believe that they do at times, but I am working on my confidence just like how I encourage others to do in my designs.
What inspires you to make art today?
HF: I honestly don’t know where I would be without being creative. It is my way of chilling out, my way of making myself happy, just generally my absolute passion in life so it becomes very easy to get inspired when you enjoy something so much. The fact that I can have a career doing something I love so much and in turn it helps me support my son and allows him to live out his dreams is just amazing.
Do you have any new designs in the works for your Artist Shop? What can fans of your art look forward to in the near future?
HF: Oh yes, I am currently working on my next collection which will still very much be focused on positivity and not stressing over the dumb shit in my signature hippie style. You can expect a lot more coming your way soon!