The Squeegee Diaries: tales from The Art Room

Graphic designer Hayley Pearce of The Art Room started illustrating and hand screen-printing children’s artwork when her first daughter was born and she couldn’t find what she wanted for her room. Now a mum to two little girls, her design range has also grown to include cards, smaller prints, teatowels and pillowcases.

theartroom Mr and Mrs portrait

What do you make?
I screen-print onto pillowcases, cushions, limited edition art prints, cards, onesies, ham bags at Christmas time and pretty much anything that can be printed! All the designs are drawings I’ve done from scratch by hand, or my children have helped draw. I turn the designs into a stencil or screen and spend most days in my studio with the radio going and printing up a storm.

How did you get into your craft?
When our first daughter was born I did a large print for her room, but with the nature of screenprinting I couldn’t stop at one and ended up doing 32 of them! Then I did another two characters to make a series. When a friend got married I printed a Mr and Mrs pillowcase set and a colleague wanted a set too and then more people wanted sets. I added them to my website and they haven’t been out of print since. They are now my top seller followed by the King and Queen Pillowcase designs.

theartroom printing 3

theartroom assistant

theartroom prints drying

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Kind of. I did a Bachelor of Visual Communication and each year I chose printmaking as an elective – so that’s where I learned to print – but it’s not what I did for a living. For a long time I worked as a graphic designer in the magazine industry and that taught me all kinds of things especially how to work fast and to a tight deadline and how to anticipate what a client is wanting. Now I need to learn to slow down and try not to leave a huge mess in my wake!

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I love that I can make a drawing in the morning, expose a screen or make a stencil and have a design printed by the afternoon. I really love the speed of screenprinting – I used to have an etching press and never used it – it took a long time to figure out the reason was because it took soooooo long just to make one print.

Favourite tool: the squeegee (such a strange word). The satisfying line up of mixed ink pots on the shelves is another favourite thing.

theartroom printing

theartroom printing 2

What inspires you?
Mostly, talking with my friends about new projects. I always come away from a coffee or night in town brimming with ideas and then I need to work out which ones will make the cut.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I guess the main philosophy I want to project is that everything is hand screenprinted by me with love and care. So people know when they’re buying from The Art Room that it’s not a mass produced design printed offshore.

Describe your workspace:
Chaotic with a semblance of order. It’s a studio space the size of a single garage with a window at each end. It keeps filling up as I get more screens, inks, cushion inners and pillowcase piles which means the floor space I have to work in is continually reducing! I keep promising myself that I will tidy it up but I never do.

Five words that describe your mind: A bit of a jungle!

theartroom studio inks

theartroom studio

theartroom mum teatowel

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
Here’s some sweet feedback from a Felt customer: Such a lovely person to deal with! So friendly and was so accommodating of my request for haste (because I’m unorganised and left things til the last minute!) And the product is gorgeous! (It’s actually the second time I’ve bought the exact same thing from Hayley as they make great wedding gifts).

Felt customers have left me some lovely feedback over the years. I’m very grateful.

What are you currently listening to?
Hopetoun Brown. They are amazing and great live AND from New Zealand.

Recommend an album: Time (The Revelator) by Gillian Welch.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. Totally absorbing and a fantastic array of crazy characters.

What are you reading now?
Just finished reading Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt the genius who wrote The Sisters Brothers. Both amazing books. Next I’m tempted to read Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling, but for the book club I belong to I should be reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

Who is your hero/heroine?
Currently obsessed with the artwork and business nous of Laura Blythman. Colour extravaganza and cut-out shapes to make scenes of wonder.

theartroom Art Collab Kit

theartroom label close up

Do you have any pets?
Yes, a cat that looks and acts like a pedigree but her Dad is actually a rascally tom cat!

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
A crafty superhero… I would call myself Screenella Printessa and I could print everyone a teeshirt that magically displayed what their dreams were. Kind of like worldwide care bears.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Personally, once I had hired an accountant all the pressure of ‘the business’ just melted away. I am not good with numbers and definitely not good with ‘a plan’ either. So, I’m probably not the best person to take advice from… but I guess the main things are: Take it slowly, make sure you continue to enjoy your craft, use social media to its fullest (after all, it’s free publicity), take good photos (advice I need to heed myself) and get a fantastic accountant.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought an A4 pot plant screenprint and set of blocks from Sly & Co, (we had tables side by side at the General Collective Market recently). I love their simplicity and use of colour, they make me happy every time I walk past them. We talked about the joy of mixing ink and not writing down the formula – and never being able to repeat the same thing again!

theartroom studio inspiration

theartroom heart

theartroom hayley

What’s in store for 2016?
I’ve been a bit slack over summer and spent a lot of time swanning around pretending to work. SO, I need to crack into some new designs ASAP. I’m aiming for a few new pillowcase designs this winter along with matching art prints. It’s hard for me to plan, I usually just sit down with a pile of paper and see what drawings emerge… so I’ll surprise you! x

Hayley has kindly offered a pair of her popular and stylish King/Queen pillowcases (pictured below) as a prize for one lucky Felt reader. You’ll feel like royalty with these 100% cotton hand screen-printed pillowcases from The Art Room. Sewn, designed and printed in Auckland, you know you’re supporting New Zealand made. (And yes, you can switch for King/King or Queen/Queen if that suits you better.)

To be in to win, simply leave a comment telling us what you like about Hayley’s story, her art, and her homewares. The draw will be made on Friday 8 April and is open to New Zealand residents only.


Purchase from The Art Room on Felt »


theartroom king and queen

11 thoughts on “The Squeegee Diaries: tales from The Art Room

  1. I have always adored ‘The Art Room’ makes and it’s so lovely to see the face behind all that gorgeous decor! I love handmade and I love that all your craft-works are made with love and care – it’s little wonder with this philosophy why you are so successful. How wonderful to see that shot of you and your daughter screen printing together.

  2. So great to have stumbled across this ‘Meet the Maker’ interview! As a fledgling female maker with a small business it always gives me a little burst of motivation when I read about other women doing what they love and being successful 🙂 Keep up the awesome work Hayley!

  3. I love doing art, and the idea of printing beautiful pictures onto fabric fills me with delight! I especially love the Mr & Mrs pillows, those are so awesome. Love to see what you’re going to think up this year!
    Enjoy printing beautiful things 🙂

  4. Love reading about Hayley and The Art Room especially admiting to being slack over summer! It reminds people that small businesses are human too…if ya get what i mean 🙂

  5. I enjoyed reading the story behind The Art Room – it is heartening to know that the designs are original and handmade with love. Great that your daughters can be involved as well.

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