We interview Sophie Mutter - designer, screenprinter and owner of We Are Mountain - who'll be joining us at the Arts and Craft Festival, 31 May - 2 June 2019. She tells us about starting up her own company, and what inspires her to design and produce her beautiful prints, tea towels, cards and zipped bags.
Tell us a bit about We Are Mountain and how it started:
Hello! My name's Sophie and I set up my company We Are Mountain back in 2013. I was previously the deputy picture editor at OK! Magazine and lived in London, but after 13 years there, I felt it was time to have a change of lifestyle and follow my dream of being able to make money from my art, so me and my husband, Ed, who's a freelance photographer, moved to sunny Worthing.
I started out selling lino cut and cyanotype cards and prints at craft fairs around the local area, and did lots of printmaking courses to try and broaden my knowledge, but the big lightbulb moment came when I did a short screen printing course at West Dean College with Jane Sampson... I totally got the bug and fell in love with screen printing. Pretty much everything I sell now is screen printed. I make prints, greetings cards and tea towels.
Who and what are your biggest sources of inspiration?
My main source of inspiration is where I live. I love being by the seaside from the ice creams on the pier to the fibre glass fisherman outside the local chippy! It makes me so happy being able to walk our whippet Morse on the downs or on the beach at low tide - I think it would be pretty hard not to find inspiration here.
What are you currently working on?
I have just started making hand screen printed zipped pouches, which have loads of uses - make-up bag, pencil case, bag tidy, purse and I'll be selling these for the first time at the West Dean Arts and Craft Festival.
After the festival at West Dean we'll be opening our house in Worthing as part of Worthing Artists Open Houses, it's on over the last three weekends in June, so there's a lot of work to be done for that. You can follow our house on Instagram @twitsoftwitten.
What advice would you give to anyone aspiring to make a career change like yours?
I can't quite believe I took the leap, looking back it was pretty brave to leave a brilliant job and relocate to a new place. I had no idea whether my business would be a success - it's still early days, but We Are Mountain is growing year on year. I sell on Etsy and local shops and galleries. I guess you just need to listen to yourself and have faith in what you're doing. Try lots of different things, you might find out you have a passion for something you'd never done before - like me and screen printing. My husband did a picture framing course at the College a few years ago, and now has a framing business alongside his photography, another passion sparked at West Dean!
What are you looking forward to most at the West Dean Arts and Craft Festival?
The atmosphere last year was great, and I met lots of other lovely artists and makers, so it will be great to catch up with them. West Dean is in such beautiful grounds, so I hope I'll have time to explore and eat lots of ice cream!
West Dean Arts and Craft Festival
See Sophie's work at the West Dean Arts and Craft Festival 31 May - 2 June 2019. Browse and buy handmade items from outstanding makers and designers, get hands-on in a creative workshop, watch live demos and step inside West Dean House. Find out more and buy tickets.