Studio Tour with Caroline Popham


Caroline Popham is a fine artist and graphic designer based in London. She works in mixed media, paint, collage and sculpture, while exploring the themes of repetition, imperfection, process and color.  Starting this month a selection of her paintings and collages will be available at TPE. To make the occasion we spoke with Popham about her process and how her environment affects her work.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up just outside of Oxford. I had a very free childhood in the middle of the countryside and I was outdoors most the time. Although I was a tomboy who could be found up a tree often, I was also an arty kid too.

Where are you currently based ?

I live near Clapham Common in South London. I am able to dip into the city and then retreat to my patch of green which makes living in the madness of London do-able.

How do you feel that living in London affects your work?

The energy and pace of this place –  are things that I thrive off still. I can never go too long without seeing an exhibition and having access to everything all the time. That’s endlessly inspiring to me.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background, your graphic design practice as well as your fine art practice? How the two evolved?

I’ve worked for 20 years as a graphic designer for fashion and lifestyle brands (the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chinti and Parker and more). I love graphic design – the brief, the problem solving, the finished perfect piece and the fact that what you’re making has a purpose. But last year I felt there was something new I wanted to express and challenged myself to break out of that rigidity. I took a fine art postgraduate course at the Chelsea school of art. It was both a freeing and terrifying time undoing decades of creative thinking. I spent the year in a studio streaking paint across paper and finding my ‘voice’.

How do you feel that the two work together (or against each other) and how do you find that you manage your energy between the two?

They butt up against each other all the time. My background in graphics has given me a lifelong obsession with color and tone that feeds into my art practice. I am constantly drawn to paint charts and Pantone chips. I can see the graphical elements in the shapes I produce. But every now and again I need to slice through a painting to disrupt the graphic designer in me who wants order.

What are you currently reading, watching, listening to?

Glow! Just a small obsession with female wrestling as you do. I read a lot and like to listen to podcasts like Serial, Tim Ferris and Malcolm Gladwell when I am in the studio.

What is your favorite way to take a break from your work?

Traveling with the family is the ultimate escape.