A Cuppa With…Our Bircham Bloom Print Designer

Did you know, the original hand drawn and painted prints that feature on our clothes are all created by our in-house team?  Constantly impressing us with their talent and creativity, we found ourselves curious to ask, what inspires them?

If you love Joules, there’s a strong chance your wardrobe contains some of Joanna Roberts’ work.  For six years, she has wowed us with her artistic skills; none more so than with one of our favourite new season prints, the Bircham Bloom floral.  We caught up over a cuppa (camomile for Joanna please) on what a typical day looks like, her creative process and growing her own:

Q: Can you tell us about your typical day?

“As a Senior Print Designer at Joules, I tend to focus on womenswear.  A typical day for me means I’m rarely at my desk.  We start designing for a new season every six months or so, focusing roughly two years ahead.

“Initially, it’s all about the creativity.  So I’ll be out and about researching and getting inspiration, before spending hours creating original sketches and paintings. We then spend a long time making sure our prints are the best they can be.  So on a typical day, you’ll usually find me helping our incredibly talented team to fine-tune our work, motivating everyone to create most incredibly beautiful work we can.

“Print design can be challenging.  Something can look amazing on paper, but when you work it up into a garment, it doesn’t work as well as you’d hoped. So you might need to tweak the colours, placement or scale.  You need to be able to think out-of-the-box.  It’s all part of the fun.”

Q: It sounds busy.  Where do you go to be inspired?

“At Joules we’re not really trend or catwalk led, we’re more inspired by the great outdoors.  So for inspiration I’ll head off to Britain’s beautiful countryside or coastline with my sketchbook and some paints and drawing pens and just draw flowers. We’re pretty unique in that our main inspiration comes from the nature around us.

“For AW18 our design theme is ‘A Wander In The Woods’ and we headed to Norfolk.  Everyone knows the coastline, but the woods there are beautiful and quite mysterious.  We foraged for leaves, acorns and chestnuts, then spent time drawing and painting them.

“We also love heritage, so I spend a lot of time looking at vintage prints wondering if I could breathe new life into them.  You have to use your imagination a little bit, because sometimes a design is beautiful but it might look dated, with dodgy colours or too much going on. So we have to think, “how that we can modernise that?”

Q: Where did the inspiration for Bircham Bloom come from?

“The Bircham Bloom floral was actually inspired by a vintage print with the most wonderful composition of florals on it.  We loved it as soon as we saw it, it just looked really autumnal. Featuring leaves, roses and peonies, it was just beautiful. I saw so much potential in it.

“So I took this original vintage print and started playing around with the layout.  I cut out the floral shapes and rearranged them into a new arrangement.  It immediately felt a more contemporary and easy-to-wear design, just by picking out some of our favorite flowers and piecing them back together with more space.

“I then played around with colour, using our autumnal AW18 colour palette and giving it a modern twist by adding in some painted elements. I used gouache paint, adding extra layers to build up the design, give it more depth and make it look more contemporary.”

Q: Can you talk us through the rich, beautiful colours featured in the print?

“It all starts with the colour palette we set for the season, which is always inspired by nature.  For Bircham Bloom, the colours came from studying autumnal leaves.  Noticing the different shades you get when they fade from green to stunning orange, red, gold and brown.  Being Joules, we obviously wanted to include the exciting colour pops we know our customers love too, so I mixed in bright pops of pink to give it a fresh feel.”

Q: What is your favourite medium to design with?

“I think it depends on the season.  Different mediums, whether that’s paint, pencil, inks or drawing pens, can look completely different in a spring/summer season or an autumn/winter season. I do love using inks, because it’s a lot faster and you can be more abstract with it. But then at the same time, I love using the more traditional paints like gouache and oil paints, because you can build up colour beautifully.”

Joe, Print Designer

“For inspiration I’ll head off to Britain’s beautiful countryside or coastline with my sketchbook and some paints and drawing pens.”

Joanna, Senior Print Designer, Joules

Q: How does it feel when you see someone wearing a print you’ve designed?

“It’s just the best feeling.  I still get really excited and feel really humbled, because someone actually loved it so much that they paid money to own it.  It never gets old.”

Bircham Bloom image 2
Bircham Bloom image 3
Bircham Bloom image 4

Q: When you’ve not got a paintbrush in your hand, what might we find you doing?

“I love cooking from scratch and find it very therapeutic.  I also have a vegetable patch at home, so I’m really enjoying growing my own ingredients in the garden.  I also want to travel more and explore the rural countryside of Scotland.  At the moment though, I’m busy planning my wedding.  As a designer, I’m quite fussy when it comes to finding “The Dress” and want something a little bit different. It’s going to be a hard task!”

Thanks Joanna, for both your time and your talent.  You’ll find Joanna’s Bircham Bloom floral making an appearance on our best-loved styles and new show-stopping pieces in our autumn/winter collection, which is available both online and in-store now.


  • Lyn Shipman

    12.08.2018 at 10:46 Reply

    Beautiful designs………loved the pheasant last autumn and this year’s blackberry…………..I’m 70 and have been a big fan of Joules for years…………first buying pieces at County Shows years ago……….now my grandchildren wear your lovely designs.

    One request………..more summer pieces in lime green…………I have a linen shirt (one of five) in ‘fluoro yellow’ (it’s lime green!) which everyone admires……. so I think that more items in that colour would be really popular.

  • chrisitne oneill

    12.08.2018 at 11:39 Reply

    lovely to see a designer paint and not on the computer….. great prints

  • Carole Hubbard

    12.08.2018 at 14:40 Reply

    Really interesting… l worked in black and white studio in the 70s. We had to produce the fine art for wallpapers. We had to produce 6-colour separations by hand… we had to measure the keyline with a microscope to ensure the bleed was correct. I had the same buzz when l saw wallpapers I’d worked on in situ. I can even remember recreating artwork from William Morris pieces loaned from the museum.

  • Yvonne McPhail

    15.08.2018 at 10:21 Reply

    I have very many Joules pieces particularly Harbour tops. I would love to see more emerald green and cobalt blue and orange. There seems to be a predominance of pinks. Perhaps more sea and shells.

  • Emma Walters

    15.08.2018 at 22:14 Reply

    Fascinating! I thoroughly enjoyed reading the blog and how Joanne gets her inspiration. It’s Made me love Joules that little bit more. Oh and good luck with the wedding plans too 🙂

  • Hannah Magali Sophia Forsyth

    10.09.2018 at 23:09 Reply

    I absolutely love Joules – from the colours to the styles and the beautiful prints. This years Bircham Bloom is definitely though one of my all time favourite prints and i have really appreciated how the inspiration came and hearing the process of the design. Thank you – i have everything in the print so am pretty coordinated at present in my wardrobe. If you could possibly consider doing an Alexi Tunic in the print – that would just make my world xx Thank you for sharing – Autumn is my favourite season and i have prints on my walls at home with the differing leave colours in Autumn – clearly this design was meant for me and it is wonderful to hear from the people behind the creations – so thank you and don’t ever give up designing – you truly have a great talent – I’m just so grateful to be able to access and wear your inspired clothing! xx

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