Penhaligon’s collaborated with artist, Kristjana Williams, to create the bespoke Portraits packaging. By interweaving fragments of Victorian engravings with contemporary illustration and colouring, Kristjana Williams creates magical landscapes filled with impossible, exotic creatures. Born in Iceland, and a graduate of Central Saint Martins in London, Kristjana’s award-winning illustration work has gained widespread critical acclaim in the realms of fashion, homewares and art prints.
When did you know you wanted to become an artist?
At the age of six I was constantly drawing and painting, however, when I reached my teenage years I moved away from the idea as I never dreamed I could make a career out of being an artist. Then in my midtwenties, I went back to study graphic design at Central Saint Martins, majoring in illustration. Outline Editions gallery picked up on my work and it went from there.
What inspires you/what were your earliest influences?
I think the earliest influences are the most interesting as you are not really aware of them till you look back. My childhood in Iceland is very much embedded in my work. The nature in Iceland is clearly portrayed, the starkness of the black and white treatment of the engravings looking to the frozen-over sea and black sandy beaches. My love of colour has also been influenced by Iceland, where I craved light and colour during the long, dark winters.
Describe your style.
Can you tell us a little about your creative process: how does an idea turn into an illustration – and how long does it take?
This varies immensely, sometimes a piece can be brewing for years then all of a sudden it comes to life over a few weeks, whereas other pieces are constantly changing and evolving and take many months to take shape. There is no perfect formula. It all starts with a lot of research and planning.
Do you have a favourite Penhaligon’s fragrance?
I recently visited the Penhaligon’s store in Burlington Arcade for a ‘fragrance profiling’ appointment.
The fragrance expert in the store asked me various questions about my tastes and lifestyle to find the Penhaligon’s scent that would suit me the most – it was a truly wonderful experience! Juniper Sling is a favourite, due to its freshness and my love of gin!
However, I couldn’t just choose one and Halfeti is another favourite – it’s so rich and deep, the perfect evening scent.
The Victorian Era is a great inspiration for you, is that what first drew you to the Portraits project?
Penhaligon’s history alone was enough.
What inspiration did you take from the characters?
The richer the narrative the more creative I can get.
If you could be one of the Portraits characters, who would you be and why?
I feel a close affinity to Lord George, being the head of the family. He is also the first character I worked on for this project, so I am drawn to him as it was my first introduction into the Penhaligon’s Portraits world.
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