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Folio illustration agency, established London 1976

In the Studio: Britta Stenhouse


Graphical illustrations with a rustic twist. We would like you to meet the wonderful Britta Stenhouse, an illustrator with homely passions that are clearly visible within her subject matters and style.

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Working within illustration and creativity can have its highs and lows. What are your three constraints and three motives to work during the day?

Motives: Working on exciting, inspiring and creative projects. If it is a mundane project the payment at the end of it... and being able to work from home and scheduling my own time.

Constraints: When a job isn’t the most creative and not very inspiring, creative conflicts with the client and balancing work and family and too many late nights!

How do you feel being part of an agency represented as a freelance illustrator has helped with your work to date?

Being represented by an agency gives me the freedom to only deal with the creative side of a job. I benefit from the many great contacts Folio has. A lot of the clients would have been hard to reach myself. And if there is a problem with a client, which doesn’t happen very often, the lovely people at Folio will sort it out for me.

How do you feel your personal work feeds into and influences your commissioned work?

I always develop my personal work – it keeps my work fresh and keeps me excited. Having to finish a boring job seems to influence my personal work the most... Part of my procrastination is to develop lots of personal pieces that have absolutely nothing to do with the work I should be doing!

Talk us through your illustrations for the publication ‘Great Days Out – A to Z’. How did the commission come about and what led you to create the illustrations that were printed?

This was a lovely commission I got through Folio. I was asked to illustrate the cover for the Evening Standard’s ‘Great Days Out – A to Z’’ guide. The guide lists all the things you can do around London.

The brief was very open and I could choose from a vast array of images, which made it very easy. I tried to fit in as many activities as possible without the cover looking too crowded and handed in a few options to choose from. It all went very smoothly and I got to illustrate three more seasonal covers.

How do you maintain an ongoing stream of work to maintain a focus?

I don’t. I quite often get carried away and find it hard to maintain a focus. I end up producing far too much work for one brief. But I have turned my weakness into my strength by working on many projects at the same time. This allows me to go back and forth between projects and to see things from a fresh perspective every time I return to a brief.

Who and what keep you inspired?

Everything and nothing - a fleeting thought or memory, walking around Berlin, old children’s books, patterns, textiles, music, long train journeys, long baths, colours, weather etc.

When, for you, do illustrations speak louder than words?

I have written and illustrated many children’s book and have to think very carefully about the balance of words and images. Most times the text adds an extra layer to the images and vice versa. But I have come across some amazing wordless picture books – in these books even a single word would lessen the impact of the artwork.

What three things are most valuable to you in your studio?

Oskar our almost 18-year-old ginger cat from Hackney - he is the perfect companion (and distraction) as he lies on the chair next to me and purrs. My recently installed bookshelves as they help me organise my thoughts and ideas and my large collection of old children’s books!

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