I live near Colchester with my husband, two sons and a large fluffy cat who likes to keep me company when I'm working on my designs. I have always worked freelance as an illustrator since graduating from Brighton 20 years ago ( eek! is it really that long?! ) and started out illustrating children's books and educational products. After a few years break having the children, I started designing greetings cards for the direct-selling company Phoenix Trading. It was great to be doing something creative again, especially as I was able to use my own ideas and have more creative freedom. Other companies were also interested in the designs, first of all ceramics, and then I was delighted when Kate at Bothy Threads was keen to transform them into stitching kits - I had never imagined that my work would be usable in this form, so it was very exciting. It always amazes me that they still look like my drawings even in cross-stitch form - Kate is very good at keeping the fun sketchy feel of the originals. People often ask me how I think of all the ideas. I have always been interested in words and the English obsession with puns, so am always mulling over the next idea - but I usually try and think of words relating to popular subjects and then do lots of sketches and drawings to see what works as a design. Kate is very enthusiastic and encouraging, so I am looking forward to coming up with more ideas for kits in the near future. I am always willing to consider stitchers' suggestions for new themes so please feel free to tell me your ideas. If anyone would like to look at my website to view my work in detail please go to: www.helen-l-smith.co.uk - New products coming out this year, including Irish linen tea-towels and hopefully other kitchen accessories.