ginny branch stellingwhat's in your toolbox

what’s in your toolbox: jocelyn warner

by Ginny

Today I am delighted to give you a glimpse into the creative process of textile designer Jocelyn Warner. Jocelyn was one of the forerunners in reviving the lost art of wallpaper design by adding bold, graphic interpretations of botanical prints. Her work exudes modernity and timelessness, and her papers have even been acquired by the Cooper Hewitt wallpaper collection! Without further ado, please give a warm welcome to Jocelyn Warner!

1. Design*Sponge: What is in your toolbox?

Jocelyn Warner: There are so many things! I use photography a lot as a starting point, taking pictures outside with my Canon G10 (which I like, as it has RAW), and I use the bigger Nikon D200 for studio shots. When photographing in the studio, I will use white card or a roll of Fabriano paper and sometimes a tripod, and I will tape or pin the flowers/plants to paper/board or to the scanner, and sometimes I will place the plants in a pattern formation and then take the picture.

I use an old A4 Epson scanner and an Epson A3 printer. I use a Wacom tablet with Photoshop, Illustrator and textile software called AVA, all of which are run by Mac and all connected to two monitor screens so that I can have a few visuals open at the same time. I use a lot of cellotape to stick my A3s together to see repeats in scale and glue for adding bits in, a cutting board, knives, metal rulers and a guillotine. I love charcoal and graphite pencils to make lines and textures, and I have a lot of Indian black ink and thick paintbrushes for making splodgy drips. I have lino cutting tools and rollers and a stack of screen-printing equipment.

CLICK HERE for more of Jocelyn Warner’s toolbox

2. Design*Sponge: Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel HAPPY.”

3. Design*Sponge: What are on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Jocelyn Warner: Generally I find the area that my studio is in (Spitafields) really, really inspiring for architecture, vintage shops and people in general. I really love reading Spitafields Life blog; it’s really beautifully written. I buy vintage fabrics and scarves, and from the market I’ll buy old black and white photographs or a botanical drawing. I have recently moved out of London, so I’m learning the art of commuting, which means [reading] blogs and day dreaming or listening to stuff happen on the train. I like things like TED talks or watching old archival film on British Pathe (here’s a link to a really interesting one on Henry Moore textiles). I love films for pattern, colour and mood inspiration; one of my all-time favorites is In the Mood for Love by filmmaker Wong Kar-wai — a moody period drama about unrequited love set in 1962 that has a beautiful soundtrack by Shigeru Umebayashi and very, very beautiful photography and costumes. I have a great book of Georgia O’Keeffe’s One Hundred Flowers, which has her large-format flower paintings. The Dior: 60 Years of Style for great photography and fabrics and obviously cut. I also have lots of old vintage magazines like 93 Graphis which has a great cover; I also have some books of Stella Ross-Craig, who was a wonderful illustrator of British plants in the 1950s. They are beautiful line drawings. Books on photography like the William Fox Talbot, Floris Neususs Fotogramme, and I love the Peter Fischli and David Weiss catalogue for their show at Musee d’art Moderne in 1999, which I was blown away [by].

4. Design*Sponge: How do you keep yourself organized? Time management is often one of the biggest obstacles for creative minds. Do you have an agenda book, and do you make to-do lists?

Jocelyn Warner: I tend to jot things down in my Moleskin notebooks, either A4 or the smaller A5 size, or my sketch book. We use a programme called Daylite at work, which is really good as it has contacts and a diary, and we all use it for the studio. It connects to my phones, so that’s good, too.

5. Design*Sponge: If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?

Jocelyn Warner: I would love to be able to time travel so that I could be a fly on the wall with William Morris and his printing workshop. I love everything to do with printing, so it would be wonderful to see the old wood blocks in action and all the natural dye vats.

6. Design*Sponge: What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young designer?

Jocelyn Warner: When I first started the wallpapers, I had a pep talk with Paul Smith, who advised not to go into retail. I was really a bit disappointed at the time, as I really wanted a shop; looking back, I’m really glad I didn’t. There’s no way I could have developed the collections into the manufacturing processes we use now if I had the extra role of shop keeper. My advice would be to keep at it even if you are doing something else as a job; don’t lose the momentum. I spent the first five years waitressing and teaching to supplement my print studio, so I know how it can get a little soul destroying. Keep a visual diary of your daily findings; this is so easy now with phone cameras.

7. Design*Sponge: In addition to being a wallpaper/textile designer and creative consultant, what would you like to conquer next?

Jocelyn Warner: I think retail may be okay now (I have waited a long time!) so maybe a shop. I have also been looking at ceramics and going back to my roots with a scarf collection.

8. Design*Sponge: Where do you like to shop for inspiration?

Jocelyn Warner: My studio area, Spitafield & Bricklane, has great shops: Vintage Beyond Retro, Thursdays antique market at Spitafields and Sunday in Bricklane and Columbia Road for the flower market. I love Story at the Truman Brewery for great styling and pizzas; a wander down Cheshire Street to look at Labour & Wait and other bespoke design shops; Bricklane for great spices, Asian vegetables and a curry; Atlantis Art supply shop just round the corner from my studio on Hanbury Street; Whitechapel art gallery has a great bookshop and always inspiring shows; Caravan in Redchurch Street for unusual styling props; Start for fashion to drool over in Rivington Street; Liberty and the V&A are great, too!

9. Design*Sponge: If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any designer/artist/craftsperson, whose would it be and why?

Jocelyn Warner: I would love to peek inside Li Edelkoort’s [studio], as she is the master of creativity and a think-tank; she has been one of the founding creatives to interpret trends with wonderful magazines such as Bloom, Interior View and View on Colour. Her videos and films for Première Vision were really thought provoking, and at the time, there was nothing else like it.

10. Design*Sponge: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it include?

Jocelyn Warner: [I] listen to lots of classical at the moment. I love Jacqueline du Pre cello concertos. Also listening to the new album of Gil Scott-Heron, We’re New Here, Paloma Faith, Nina Simone, Regina Spektor, Antony & The Johnsons, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, etc.

Suggested For You


  • One of my dream jobs is to become a textile designer! With a degree in graphic design, that could happen – right? Someone tell me how to break into this inspiring field! Please?! and Thanks! ;-)

  • Between the illustrations she uses and the rich feel of the designs, these particular textiles are a beautiful and graceful way to bring the Wood element of Feng Shui into the home.


  • I agree with Erica – the bit about not losing momentum is inspiring. It’s always hard to wait.

  • I love this posting!! Beautiful textiles and so inspiring. I share the same passion of William Morris and Li Edelkoort.
    And Jenny you can totally be a textile designer with your graphic design background. If you know how to put patterns in repeat, you can do it! : )

  • Fantastic work, I’m a big fan of using botanical silhouettes in my work also. I just love those blue prints in Jocelyn’s journal. Sometimes the process is just as interesting as the final work.

  • I greatly appreciate the depth and detail of Jocelyn’s answers–so inspiring and informative! I, too, fantasize about designing textiles :)

    This column is such a joy because it introduces me to artists and creatives with whom I’m not familiar. And lets me get a glimpse inside! Thank you!

  • Jenny, I agree with Llubav. I am a textile designer and know others in the field who have arrived there by way of studying graphic design. I suggest building a portfolio of pattern designs and applying for jobs, or going at it on your own! Good luck

  • Oh, wow, and I thought I was the only one out there who dreamed about becoming a textile designer!

    DS – Please keep the textile designer features coming. Seems like info on this area is not as prevalent as for other designers.

    Jocelyn – Thanks for the Pathé video on Henry Moore’s textiles. So inspiring! Never would have found it on my own.