Changing paths takes nerve. For twenty years, the artist Caroline Popham was a celebrated graphic designer, a fashion industry favourite whose clients included Louis Vuitton, Dior and Manolo Blahnik.
“I really enjoyed my time as a graphic designer,” she says, “and I still love the order and balance of a beautifully designed publication or product. But it doesn’t carry the same risks as fine art, of finding your vulnerabilities and uncertainties, exploring them, exposing them.”
So in 2016 she decided to go back to school, completing a postgraduate degree in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Arts. “I think the fine artist was always there in me, but it took some years to build up the courage to become it.” The courage paid off. The combination of years of design experience and a short, intense arts school training has created a singular aesthetic and a collection of pieces that have sold swiftly from the walls of Exhibit A, Cavaliero Finn and Alex Eagle Studio.
Pared back, elegant and revelatory, Popham’s paintings and collages leave space – both for emotion and for interpretation. “I often look for themes in my work and it comes back to the same things; colour, sequential rhythms, repetition and observations in human behaviour. I find subtleties of shade very beautiful. And I love simplicity, as it is quite complex to achieve.”