Written by Sophie Wyatt
Creating her deconstructed-meal masterpieces in a small studio in Hackney Wick, 23-year-old Milli Collins has developed a fun and clearly recognisable artistic style. ‘Quite Nice Clothing‘ has everything from t-shirts with deconstructed banana bread designs on, to hoodies sporting Bloody Mary ingredients. We spoke to the young artist about where her inspiration comes from, her love of food and what she has planned for the future of her fun, foodie franchise.
Pre-Covid Milli was working in art therapy, and then when the first national lockdown was put in place she started to draw what was right in front of her. And eventually she decided to turn her love for drawing and food into a business.
‘I think I have always been creating art. I come from a very arty family, my mum was a painter and so always encouraged me and my siblings to be creative. Every day after school for about two years she’d make us draw a still life, I particularly remember always struggling with the pepper pot! It was frustrating but I am very thankful for it now because it taught me to be patient and keep trying even when everything seems to be going horribly wrong. I definitely find art relaxing, I think creating something is incredibly satisfying especially when you’ve put so much time and thought into it. I would suggest art to anyone who struggles with anxiety because it’s definitely helped me in the past, and if you don’t want to draw you could write a poem, crochet something, anything creative really! Plus, it’s nice to take a time out from screens/social media.’
After speaking earlier in the year to several small business owners about what it’s like to run your own company during a pandemic, it was clear that although they had their fair share of ups and downs they would have potentially never started up their business had it not been for the national lockdown. Milli explained that she shared this way of thinking. And although she is still growing as a designer and artist, she has established what she loves to do over 2020.
‘I definitely wouldn’t have created Quite Nice Clothing if it wasn’t for the lockdown. If you told me a year ago this is what I’d be doing I would laugh! When I started it was just a lightbulb moment that came about because of boredom, I knew nothing about the industry and so had to learn everything as I went along; I’m still learning. It has all been so unexpected and exciting but I am loving it, I can’t wait to see where it goes!’
‘Quite Nice Clothing‘ consists of fun and very distinctive designs. Milli explained to us that her love for creating the drawings of deconstructed meals stemmed from a drawing she did earlier this year of her breakfast.
‘I think the first time I drew a deconstructed meal was on the morning of 10th of May, it was the Full English Breakfast design. I remember drawing it in my pyjamas, I had no idea I’d be using that same design now. I don’t know if I had any inspiration per-say other than my love of food and cooking. I just thought it would be really funny to see someone wearing a deconstructed chicken pie on their tee. I liked the idea of it being a sort of puzzle and people trying to work it out, I just had never seen anything like it and thought it would be funny so I went for it!’
With designs ranging from ingredients for carbonara and Negroni’s, to Christmas dinner and mulled wine, picking your favourite might be difficult. Even for Milli, picking just one was a struggle. However, she chose one of her more delicate designs.
‘My favourite design is the Salmon Nigiri tee, I really like how it’s quite difficult to work out and I loved drawing the salmon and the Japanese ingredients. They have really lovely packaging!’
Choosing your favourite design as an artist is always going to be difficult, but choosing a favourite meal and cocktail as a food lover? Near impossible! Milli told us that she could never choose just one overall favourite pairing, but gave us a mouthwatering answer for what she fancied that day.
‘Choosing a favourite meal is so hard! I feel like it changes depending on the day/my mood. Today, I think I’d choose a Dim Sum platter with a Lychee Martini cocktail, that would be a lovely combo I think.’
With Milli’s business growing rapidly, her designs already on t-shirts, hoodies and tote bags, the possibilities are endless. With her next project in production, Milli explained to us where she sees the company going, and where she hopes to see her designs in the future.
‘Yes, so placemats and coasters are in production now which is so exciting! I feel like I could go anywhere really with the concept but don’t want to get too carried away, but I am definitely going to do some prints as well. I am hoping I’ll be able to pick up commissions again soon which would open up a lot of possibilities, it’s a lot of fun bringing peoples favourite dishes to life. I have had some very strange requests but I feel like that’s good because it keeps me on my toes. For the time being though just coasters, placemats and prints for the future.’
Head over to the ‘Quite Nice Clothing’ Instagram page to see more of Milli’s amazing designs, and go check out the website to grab someone (or yourself) a great Christmas present now!