16th April 2012


18 months ago I set my sights on working for Starbucks.

I bestowed on them the title: **Dream Client**

I wrote their name in big inky capitals on a sheet of A3 paper and pinned it to my studio wall.


Then began my biggest commission mission to date.

It all started with a hand penned cup.



Then more and more and more.

I drew on these cups each week and posted them to Starbucks.

Both London and Seattle.

Inky analogue Spam.


Starbucks Cups

Starbucks Cups


Then out the blue, a phonecall from their UK Managing Director!

A week later, we shook hands over early morning Americanos

where naturally I presented him with yet more inky cups.

You can never have too many.


A week later an email from Danielle Monti, Global Creative Director of Starbucks, appeared in my inbox.

*Queue much excitement!*


Conversations bubbled with both Seattle and London…

I remained steadfastly optimistic.

My Starbucks Cup is always half full.


Months passed.

I persisted with the cups.

I Vimeoed.


Then, half way through screen printing a batch of Wonderland prints, my mobile buzzed in my apron pocket.

Squeegee in one hand, mobile in the other (gold ink splattered on my face)

“Hello? Johanna speaking.”

“Hello, this is Starbucks.”

I paraphrase for drama, but you get the idea.

It was an epic moment.




A ticket to London was hastily booked.

Trains, planes and automobiles.

The brief: to create a wallpaper for the redesign of the Vigo Street store, the first of 70 in London to be given a top to toe make-over.


I sketched, I inked, I scanned and I tweaked.

The motif is inspired by the beautiful architectural features of the Vigo Street location.


Starbucks Wallpaper Johanna Basford


My signature style with the story of the store woven through it.

Hidden within the flourishes and echoes of the wood cut ceiling, are tiny coffee cups, elusive birds and the odd Frappuccino…

It’s elegant, yet quirky – peer closely to find the hidden details.

Click here for more images.


Finally, after many months of secret work, the wonderful new Vigo Street store was unveiled.

I high fived a stranger.

I phoned my mum.

I spammed Twitter with dozens of wobbly Instagram shots.

Forget editing or social media etiquette, I was excited and caffinated.


Vigo Street Starbucks

Vigo Street Starbucks


I added ‘Starbucks’ to my client list.


And that’s how empty paper cups landed me my dream client.


Want to see the Inky Starbucks for yourself? Go take a peek.

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