Universal + H&W: Meet Josie Shenoy, the Artist Behind Be Good
Prior to the launch of our Universal collection, we had been closely following the impressive career of London-based illustrator Josie Shenoy. We knew for quite some time that we wanted to work with her in some capacity, and when this collection began to come into focus, we knew it was the right time and the right project to finally add Josie to the roster of H&W designers. Her whimsical style felt perfect for the aesthetic we were hoping to achieve with our E.T. the Extra Terrestrial-inspired pattern, and we couldn't be more delighted with how Josie brought Be Good to life. Keep reading to learn more about this talented artist and how this pattern came to be.
Tell us a bit about your background. Have you always been drawn to the arts and creative pursuits?
I'm Josie, an illustrator based in South London who has a deep love for nature and storytelling. I aim to create beautifully detailed and intricate illustrations—kaleidoscopic—with a touch of romance and sophisticated use of colour. Since I was a child, I have always loved drawing and painting, as well as reading and music. We are a very creative family. My dad is Indian, and my childhood travels to South India and all the beautiful patterned textiles around the home have definitely inspired my work. My mum is British, and my great-grandmother designed for William Morris, so maybe it’s in the blood too! I set up my illustration business when I graduated, and since then I have illustrated everything from children’s books, wallpaper, and souvenir ranges, to puzzles, textiles, ceramics, and greeting cards, amongst many other things!
Do you have any special connection to the film that inspired the pattern you created for this collection?
E.T. the Extra Terrestrial is such a magical movie, the combination of everything—the cinematic style, John Williams' brilliant score, and the performances—reminds you how it was to be a child. I have two older siblings who loved the movie, and I remember going as a family to the video store and renting films—we would watch the same ones over again and again. The excitement of a movie night as a kid in the early 90s is such a special memory of mine. I loved the ritual of the outing to the video shop in the evening, choosing the film, getting popcorn, and driving home to watch it together as a family.
What was your design process like for this pattern? Take us from ideation through execution.
Hygge & West sent me over a concept mood board, and I began my process with the fun part—immersing myself in the world of E.T. by watching the movie! I began sketching on a small scale to see how the forest, stars, and moon could work together to form a fun, yet elegant, repeat pattern. It can be tricky to imagine how a pattern will actually work on a large scale, so I photocopied my drawings and taped them to the wall in my studio so I could play around with the elements. There was a lot of scribbling, sketching, and making notes at this point. Once I could see the repeat was taking shape, I drew the elements again, scanned them in, and created a vector repeat on Illustrator. Throughout the process there was dialog with Hygge & West, which really helped to create a stronger pattern. We added in an extra moon and then the hidden spacecraft for a special moment of surprise. I then worked up some swatches using Pantone references, and played around with various colour iterations until we decided on the final two colourways.
I am thrilled with how the pattern turned out, and what a dream it has been to work with H&W. I absolutely adore your papers, and it has been a joy to work with Christiana and Aimee. To reference our E.T. design, I am over the moon with our collaboration!
How did you decide which scenes, moments, and characters to depict in your design?
After watching the film, it became clear that the moon and bicycle should be the stars of the show. It’s such an iconic scene, and nestling the moment amongst the moonlit forest and decorative starry sky helped to appropriate it for a more sophisticated audience whilst retaining the otherworldly charm that appeals to children.
These films have diehard fans and followings. How were you able to retain the characteristics of the film that the fans know and love but put your own unique spin on it?
I wanted to focus on the heartwarming moment in the sky that we all know and love, but elevate the pattern so that it appeals to both adults and children. I have illustrated for both adults and children over the years, so I’m hoping the mixture of charming details, decorative touches, and sophisticated colour palette provides the perfect balance of whimsy and elegance.
How does wallpaper—both the pattern and the color—affect the way we experience a space?
Having just bought my first home, this is something that I’m just about to begin exploring! I think the way you style a space is an amazing way of expressing yourself, and I’m looking forward to playing with pattern and colour to create a joyful, happy home. I enjoyed the way we played with scale in this pattern, to create a decorative statement wallpaper that will be a conversation starter. I love telling stories through my designs, so that each time you look you see something new.
What's your favorite way to enjoy a movie night at home?
Me and my partner are huge film lovers, so we have experience in this department! I love the whole ritual of a movie night—choosing the film together, relaxing on the sofa after a long day of work. Our cat, Larry, is always lazing around near us. Comfort is key, so lots of comfy blankets and delicious snacks are always nearby; surround sound and a big screen are a bonus!