Art meets life in Kelly Anna’s vibrant North East London home, which she shares with her partner Felipe Guimaraes (a Creative Director) and their young son. The couple bought the maisonette in this modern mews development for their growing family, and have used their collective creativity to transform the open-plan space into an eclectic and energetic home.
Echoes of Kelly’s bold illustrative style can be found throughout, from the fluidity of the self-made, built-in furnishings to the confident use of colour. Generations of craft combine; works from their favourite artists and designers sit alongside family keepers, such as Felipe’s grandmother’s handmade rugs. We caught up with Kelly to find out more about her career as a designer and artist, and how her work influenced her home’s distinctive interiors.
Dad was an artist, so I think it’s always been there. I went to London College of Fashion to study fashion illustration, and while there I won a competition to live illustrate from the front row at London Fashion Week. I ended up doing this four seasons running. It’s where I really fell in love with print design. I spent six years working in various fashion houses as a print designer. Eventually, I decided I wanted to push my own work instead of continuing to create work only for other brands. I felt like I had something to offer, and started working on personal projects on the side, and it went from there.
I come from a family of ballroom and Latin dancers, so I was always drawing and painting the dancers at competitions. I think I have always been fascinated by capturing the movement of the body, and particularly in sports too.
It was a very slow burn at first. I was drip-feeding my work out for a couple of years when I first went freelance. It took me a while to get the confidence. Just as I was seriously considering quitting, I was approached by Nike to takeover their women’s flagship store and that’s where it all changed.
My whole family are dancers and we were very into sport, like gymnastics, karate etc. I started dancing aged three, along with my siblings. (My mum and dad actually met through dancing.) Everything in dancing is about emotion, and I hope that comes across in my work. But not only visually, mentally it’s been important too. I grew up with this respect for discipline. From a very young age I was taught that if you stick at something, you’ll get better… But only after years of hard work. I definitely wasn’t born with the skill of drawing, as I believe my dad was, but I had the passion and motivation to build on my love for it. I’m still not totally where I want to be, but that just excites me.
Absolutely, we have to pick each other up and push each other forward. I’m lucky to be surrounded by incredible creatives who do just that. I’m also a new mum, and I feel this space can be incredibly vulnerable. It can be a challenging time in a person’s life, to the point that you question your own abilities and sense of self. I want people to feel powerful and hopeful, even in moments they can’t even take a shower by themselves!
There is an enormous pile of books in the studio, which tend to centre around the Olympics, vintage sports illustrations and photos. But also my son – the way he plays and sees the world makes me take a step back and look at things a little differently.
When I receive a brief, first of all I get giddy. I still get butterflies when a client wants to work with me. Then I try to get outside, put my headphones in and go out for a walk to let the project sink in. I’ll always start with research and concepts. I use an A3 pad to jot down all my ideas. I use the old ‘spider diagram’. Then, I will show the client these sketches before taking a direction and working into it. I’ll then spend a long time just sketching. I always have to sketch on a A2 pad – the bigger the better, it feels more free. Most of my work will be created by hand and only finished digitally. This is certainly not the fastest way of getting a project finished but it’s the way I like to work.
When I was pregnant, I started a painting and Felipe helped me with it. So, we decided to keep it in the house and use this as the starting colour palette for our front room. My partner and I are both creatives (he’s a Creative Director at and ad agency) so we decided he would take the lead on the design and sourcing, and I would just sign it off. We joked and said I was the client and he was the CD. I’m quite particular with things, so sometimes he had to show lots of options before we agreed. But I have to give him most the credit for the hard work! We sourced from a lot of new designers and made sure we bought direct from them.
We found an antique cabinet from a local dealer, resprayed in lilac, and it’s amazing. It looks like it’s from a Disney film and I love the idea of recycling a really old piece. We also have so many pieces from Miyelle ceramics. Her work is beautiful.
Working at a much larger scale than I’m used to was a lot more work, of course, but it has been a dream to see my work on such a huge scale. The team were really incredible to work with. I actually went into labour before the project had finished, so they waited for me to be ready to finish it. The fact they didn’t just drop me and go somewhere else made me really want to finish it.
Flying out to Portland to design my own Nike collection was a complete pinch me moment.
I would love to do a huge mural and paint a whole building one day. Something really permanent. I just want to keep collaborating with brands and products. It’s where my passion lies.
Be stupidly confident!