A British-born artist, Rory Dobner is world renowned for his pen and ink drawings featuring mischievous animals. With his passion for the British pastime of afternoon tea and biscuits he was inspired to launch a collection with Williams Sonoma. Read on to learn more about the inspiration behind his art, the story behind his characters, what his routine is like, and his favorite foods to cook are.
1. What do you love most about drawing with pen and ink?
I love the detail of what I can achieve through the medium. I can really bring my characters to life and enjoy the simplicity of black & white which complements just about any interior.
2. Why cups and plates?
I couldn’t find any cups or plates that I liked, so I decided to make my own. I’m a tea addict, and if biscuits on a plate are involved then even better to dunk in my tea! We have a wonderful thriving fine bone china industry in England in Stoke on Trent, which also has the greatest potters’ buildings that look like pixie houses, so I had no excuse not to use what’s right in my neighborhood.
3. Share the story behind your characters.
Each character comes from different inspiration. Sometimes, it’s treasures I’ve collected on my adventures and brought back to my London art studio. Sometimes, they are from all the daydreaming I do when drinking countless cups of tea. Others come from stories I make up with my children Louie and Huxley at bedtime.
4. Why is art so important to you?
I love creating designs to make everyone smile.
5. How would you describe your work routine?
I was lucky to build my perfect studio onto my house, so I have a huge light-filled space chockablock with all my bits and bobs a mere two steps from my kitchen. When I wake up I head to my studio — toast and tea in hand — and stay until my eyes start closing at my desk. Or, if I’m kidnapped for dinner.
6. What’s your favorite food?
I absolutely love sushi. My favorite sushi spot is near my house on Flask Walk in Hampstead, which is teeny weeny. I love to perch on a stool to eat with a bird’s eye view of the sushi chefs preparing each piece before me.
7. How about your favorite thing to cook?
I’m always in charge of the kitchen since my wife or father refuse to cook. To make the family happy I make a full roast chicken dinner on Sunday with lots of bubbly to drink and apple crumble with ice cream for dessert. We have an Aga in the kitchen, so I’ve mastered the art of keeping everything hot at the same time.
8. What three things can you not live without in your fridge?
Salty butter, smoked salmon, and beer. I know butter is considered forbidden for some, but it’s so nice on hot baguettes, along with smoked salmon. Beer helps me draw through the evenings.
9. Where do you want your art to take you next?
I’m adding the finishing touches to my first book, which is a children’s book, which will be launched in October 2018. Called The Inkhouse it’s about an artists’ house that hosts an animal afternoon rock & roll tea party. It’ll feature 90 new drawings that I produced over a three-year period.
10. What’s your favorite British ritual?
Friday night fish & chips with mushy peas preferably in the summertime on a picnic blanket on Hampstead Heath watching the world go by.
Learn more about Rory Dobner’s entire collection, exclusive to Williams Sonoma, here.