Slightly Wobbly Designs was established in October 2012, it offers a range of light-hearted illustrations currently in the form of prints, cards, mugs, and aprons. Its most recent designs have been sold in independent vintage stores around Cardiff.
Behind the idea is self-taught illustrator, Alistair Stuart. He explains how Slightly Wobbly began after a bad break-up and the realisation that life is actually slightly wobbly. Now the brand sells bespoke commissioned illustrations and is flourishing in the city’s ever growing vintage scene.
Cheeky chap, Alistair, is quick to tell us that his tale isn’t one of woe but derived simply out of an attempt to boost his own spirits, next came the realisation that his sketches could relate to others too: “The idea was to create a range of images that were accessible, life itself is slightly wobbly and I like to think the reason for our success is that each illustration is relatable to not just one, but many people.”
The brand began with one range of cards directed solely at women but now reaches out to several different markets including vintage lovers, weddings, men and children. It has recently expanded into Hubbard’s Cupboard, a well known vintage store in Cardiff’s city centre that is popular for its vintage wedding collection, Al says: “This year has been very busy for wedding commissions, and we definitely see a promising future in bespoke wedding stationery and gifts. The vintage wedding market is booming in Cardiff right now, so we are thrilled to be a part of it and hope to be so for as long as the industry will have us.”
Al, who has been drawing and painting since he was a child made Slightly Wobbly a reality when he met his business and civil partner, Jonathan Watkins. “I owe a lot to him and his background of graphics,” Al says. He goes on to explain how the duo trawled every craft and gift fair this side of the Severn Bridge before establishing a following with feedback that allowed them to grow. His most recent illustrations reflect Cardiff’s vintage scene, Al explains why:
“The word vintage has become synonymous with style and for some people I think that’s as far as the interest goes. For others I think the popularity of vintage has a lot to do with craftsmanship, structure, detail, elegance and nostalgia. Human nature dictates that we look back with proverbial rose tinted glasses and I believe the vintage scene taps into that desire. Also, the vintage scene is packed full of creatives, like myself. It provides us with an outlet for our kitsch and frivolous side. Basically, it’s fun.”
Al’s strong-felt enthusiasm for vintage is evident in his words but his passion for it comes from his love of Arthur Ferrier, whose illustrations have loosely inspired Slightly Wobbly’s vintage range: “The great Arthur Ferrier was a prolific and well known illustrator from back in the day, and I particularly admire his work from the 1920s and 1930s. His images convey style, humour and keen observation all using the humble pen. Considering how many illustrations are created digitally now, I find it refreshing to look back at such detailed work, created with simple methods to such great effect.
“For me the word vintage applies to a specific era, namely 1920s to 1960s. Perhaps I’m in denial but I refuse to believe that 1980s and 1990s pieces are vintage. I just can’t go there! Vintage clothing, furniture, advertising, music, even architecture is all so appealing, especially in a time of mass production. Vintage pieces have a story to tell, even if it’s not always an important one, and that’s what fascinates me,” Al says.
Slightly Wobbly’s next vintage piece is the artwork for 1940s band, Seren Sisters. Slightly Wobbly will design their promotional material as well as their new album cover. We can also expect fresh material from the boys with a brand new range of prints in the new year.