Colour, pattern, storytelling and animals inspire Mary Kilvert. The designer from Herefordshire encapsulates her skill as an illustrator and love of narrative in a range of beautiful products, from signature woollen sheep and stationery to her latest venture, decorative wallpaper.
Mary’s talent emerged early. As a small girl she made up stories, drew, and experimented with different media, including her father’s bowling trousers while he slept (or, as Mary regarded them then, a blank canvas waiting to be covered in felt tip pens).
Since graduating from Kingston University with a degree in illustration, Mary has built up a portfolio of clients from editorial, advertising and publishing, including Usbourne Publishing, Oxford University Press, The Guardian and The Telegraph. She has illustrated two Patterns to Colour books for Usbourne.
In 2008, Mary started to make miniature woollen sheep, using the dry-felting method, each finished in a distinctive hand-knitted jumper. (Mary talks more about the story behind her sheep here.) The idea was developed further when she joined Cockpit Arts, a renowned business incubator for promising British designer-makers, in 2011. Mary launched her Colourful Sheep Collection, a range of decorative homewares which included the collectable woollen sheep, at the 2011 Country Living Fair. It was an instant success and has become one of her best-selling ranges.
Mary opened her first shop in 2013 in the beautiful town of Frome in Somerset. Her products are also stocked throughout the UK and internationally. She continues to work to commission (currently for Johnstons of Elgin), while also developing her range of products in her studio above the shop.