Interviews

Video Designer Spotlight: Brooke Glaser

Grab a cuppa and tune in for this week's Designer Spotlight with Illustrator & Surface Designer, Brooke Glaser.

We talk about where Brooke finds inspiration, her design process and have a good old catch up!

Watch the video below, or play the podcast: www.risedesignandshine.com/podcasts/

 

Designer Spotlight: Elizabeth Silver

Hello, please introduce yourself:

Hi, I'm a surface pattern designer Elizabeth Silver. I live on the east coast of the US, in Raleigh, North Carolina and I was an in-house textile designer for about 10 years before going freelance in 2012. Since then I've branched out into stationery, dinnerware, party paper and a bit of everything else, but no matter the substrate, I'll always be a pattern girl at heart!

 

If you could give your 10 years younger self one key piece of advice or an insight, what would it be?

'Just because it isn't easy doesn't mean you're not doing a good job.'

I've been exceedingly lucky in my life to have had the opportunity to study surface pattern design, get a job in my field right out of school, and be a valued member of all the design departments I've been a part of. Getting into freelancing and licensing has been a much slower build to success markers than I was really prepared for, despite working harder than I ever used to. I've been able to persevere and continue to have a positive attitude, confident that eventually I'll get where I'm going, but a younger Elizabeth Silver may not have been so optimistic.

When you feel stuck or in a design rut, how do you get yourself out of it and back on track?

I'd love to say I take a walk in the park and come back inspired and recharged, but the truth is, I think of myself as a designer more than an artist, and so much of my process is just about moving forward. When I feel like things aren't coming together the way I wish they were, I take a break from the project if I can, re-assess with fresh eyes, and also try to keep it in perspective. Not every design is going to be my favorite. All I can do is my best for that day or that design and press on.

What are your favourite design tools? 

A sketchbook, mechanical pencil, my Wacom tablet, Adobe Illustrator and the internet pretty much cover all the bases for me.

How would you describe your design process?

I go into my process and favorite resources in real detail in my new atly course (all about designing a licensing collection) but in short, my process is that of a true left-brained creative. I usually start with lists. My sketchbook is 30% writing and 70% drawing.

As far as apps go, Pinterest is a great place to gather and keep my references and inspiration and while I consider myself lucky to be equally proficient at Photoshop and Illustrator, I prefer Illustrator for my own work, because editing later for licensing clients tends to be much easier.

What have been some of your favourite design projects to date?

When I worked in-house as the print stylist for babyGap, besides the adorable patterns for 0-24 month olds, I was also in charge of designing the prints for boys underwear each season. At the time, that was a large category where I illustrated all types of novelty prints that made me smile. Essentially I spent my days drawing dinosaurs on skateboards and robot sharks, and really, what's more fun than that?


More recently, I've enjoyed expanding on and remixing some of my favorite collections to design art coasters for Studio M.

Who are your dream clients or what is your dream project

I'd love to have a capsule collection with Target, a line of home décor or stationery or both with my patterns and name all over it.

Where do you find inspiration?

I do a bi-monthly market trend board for my newsletter, so I am regularly scouring shopping sites, blogs, and instagram for that endeavor. It's been a great way to soak up ideas without focusing on how those trends apply to my style and work. A lack of focus while researching keeps me current without being too derivative.

When I'm long gone, I hope people remember me as:

Charismatic and colorful.

Designer Spotlight: Kath Watmough

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

Hi, I'm Kath and I am a freelance illustrator and surface pattern designer working from home in Padiham, Lancashire UK. I did a degree in textile design, specialising in printed textiles at the University of Derby. After 16 years working for Hallmark UK / Hambledon Studios I set up Kath Watmough Designs in October 2013. I work on a freelance basis for clients in the UK and China, designing greeting cards, gift wraps, gift bags, money wallets, crackers and calendars, for retail and wholesale markets worldwide.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE SURFACE PATTERN DESIGNER/ILLUSTRATOR?

As a child I loved colouring books and I would spend hours colouring in. I remember being interested in patterns around the home and in my grandma's house; I think this is where my love of mid century art comes from. Anything art related I showed a real interest. I knew from the age of 11 that I wanted to work in the creative industry.

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY/WEEK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

Once I've got the children off to school, I check my emails, put some music on and start work. I like to do my research, get inspired. I look at trends and different themes. I work 5 days a week and weekends when deadlines are approaching but try to keep weekends free for family time.

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

To be less critical of yourself, it's okay to make mistakes. Being a perfectionist can hinder your creativity. I enrolled on Module 1 of The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design course back in February 2016 and I found it really helpful and inspiring. It took me back to basics which I'd not done for years and I loved it! I rediscovered the fun element of mark making again. At the end of Module 1 I entered and won the typography testimonial competition and got a free place on Module 2! It was a real boost for my confidence.

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

I have a break from the computer, make a brew, do some housework; this soon gets me back to doing what I really love! Other times I'll do some mark making with different materials or look at design books for inspiration.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

I love my Wacom pad and I would be lost without it. Pentel brush pens, Uni pin and the pigma micron pens are great for finer line work.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? FAVOURITE APPS AND PROGRAMS

I like to sketch my initial ideas in pencil first. Once I'm happy with them I use layout paper or tracing paper and draw in pen before scanning them in. I then manipulate my scanned drawings in Illustrator. Colour is really important to me and it is the first thing that catches my interest. I like to do a bit of research on colour and look at different colour palettes and what's on trend. I look at pinterest and magazines, as they are a great source of inspiration and for researching trends.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

I have sold a large number of my designs for gift wrap use only and here are some of them that I enjoyed creating.

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

I love stationery products, so seeing my designs in Paperchase would be a dream come true.

I would also love to see my designs on fabric and wallpaper.

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

Pencil, Uni pin pen and paper.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

Everywhere! From household objects to nature. Visiting exhibitions, books, pinterest. Me and my family went to Barcelona last year and I found lots of inspiration there. I think I drove my children mad because I kept stopping to take pictures of patterns everywhere I went.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

Ooh this is a hard one! There are so many great designers. I love 1950's vintage patterns and I love designs by Lucienne Day.

When I'm long gone, I hope people remember me for creating colourful designs that make people smile and brighten up their day.

Designer Spotlight: Kei Maye

Hello, please introduce yourself:

Hey, I’m Kei, a nature obsessed surface & pattern designer from London.


If you could give your 10 years younger self one key piece of advice or an insight, what would it be?

You will never find out what could be if you continue to sit and wonder. It is much better to grow old and think ‘oh well’ than ‘what if I had just tried to give it a go’. Don’t be afraid of ‘failure’ all failure is, is the universe’s way of saying ‘hey…that way didn’t work…let’s try another route’. So just..get on with it!

When you feel stuck or in a design rut, how do you get yourself out of it and back on track? 

When I’m feeling uninspired, I take a step back and just focus on relaxing and making time for other things I enjoy. I learned the hard (and frustrating) way, that trying to force myself to produce work when I felt ‘blocked’ usually led to bigger and lengthier droughts that I found it harder to recover from. I think it’s important to not overwork or put too much pressure on ourselves to create anything, as the output can often end up contrived and not organic.

I find that updating my playlist can help, as well as spending some time away from social media!


What are your favourite design tools? 

Photoshop, Illustrator, my Wacom tablet, graph paper and pencils.


How would you describe your design process?

Almost all of my prints are results of spontaneous bursts, often generated by new music or from simply laying in the bath. I’ve been told I have a peculiar way of working, as I tend to jump straight into it without explaining the concept (this was such a huge issue for me in university). As my pieces are so spontaneous, I often bypass the ‘planning’ step of the process, and jump straight into drawing the shapes and selecting colour either through Photoshop or using my sketchbook.

For my geometric prints, I tend to construct the shapes first in Illustrator, before colouring and filling in the various shapes on Photoshop.


What has been/have been some of your favourite design projects to date? 

Back in 2013, I had been approached to sell my prints in a pop-up art event line with Fab. I remember at the time, I was really nervous about putting everything out there as I was just starting on my print design journey, but once the event started, it felt liberating. It was great to see all the feedback and to know that there are people out there who support me and my work. It really inspired me to keep on going.

 

what is your dream project?

I would love to find a massive warehouse and transform it into a creative hub, with nature themed rooms filled with resources, material and inspiration. A space for all creative folk to come and explore their artistic interests and learn new methods through workshops and access to a collection of equipment and machinery. In addition to this, the design of interior & soft furnishings brings me major joy, so this would be a dream avenue to explore as well.


There has been an art supply sanction imposed and designers are only allowed to possess 3 items/tools, what do you choose? 

iMac, Wacom and a supply of electricity.

Night-Fly-Leggings.jpg


Where do you find inspiration? 

Nature. There is so much beauty to be found in nature, and a lot of us perhaps don’t have the time to stop and notice, especially when we’re on our way to work or getting the shopping done and just getting on with our lives. The colours and shapes from the subtle to the bold and bright, they all inspire my pieces in some way, shape or form.


Who would you say is the greatest designer to have lived? 

Incredibly difficult as there are so many awesome designers out there! I can tell you who I think is great at the moment - Lina Iris Viktor. Her vision is insane.


When I'm long gone, I hope people remember me as :

The girl who expressed herself creatively and unapologetically.

 

Where you can find Kei

Website: kei-maye.co.uk // Facebook: facebook.com/kei.LDN // Instagram: @kei_maye // 

Designer Spotlight: Elizabeth Olwen

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

I’m a surface designer and sometimes illustrator from Toronto. I create patterns and illustrations and license them out for all sorts of different products, like bedding, rugs, pillows, aprons, floor tiles, stationery, fabric and so much more. That’s one of the things I love most about what I do — I never know what new kind of product collaboration is around the corner.

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

There will be many challenges, but if you push through, work hard and devote yourself to something you love, they all make you stronger, and your success is so much sweeter. Celebrate what makes you different. And always trust your gut.

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

Top tip: don’t freak out. After many battles with this, I have come to accept that there are ebbs and flows with my creativity. When I’m in a rut, I remind myself that creativity is like a boomerang — sometimes it feels like it’s getting far away, but it always comes back to you. And sometimes it comes back with gifts, like new ideas or directions you might not have had if you didn’t have a bit of space from it.

That said, sometimes I find the hardest part is just getting started. I find myself avoiding work for fear that I might not create something I like. I simply make a deal with myself: just start and spend 15 minutes. If it doesn’t happen in 15 minutes, you’re free to walk away. But usually I sit down, and within 15 minutes I remember how much I love what I do, and am having a blast.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

I love my ipad Pro and apple pencil, as well as my Wacom Tablet, for drawing motifs.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? FAVOURITE APPS AND PROGRAMS

I usually start with good old fashioned pen and paper, away from my computer. I find that I feel most free when I’m away from my computer. I sketch out lots of ideas really loosely and get them out of my head and onto paper. Then I’ll either go back and explore them further on paper, or lately, I find I love just hopping onto my iPad Pro with apple pencil and exploring there. Lately, I’m obsessed with the Adobe Illustrator Draw app, but I also rely heavily on Inkpad — both apps export vector files, but Inkpad also retains strokes so you can further adjust once I’ve exported to my computer. Ultimately, I take my artwork into Adobe Illustrator, where I lovingly assemble all of my patterns.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

I always love designing fabric — I work with Cloud9 Fabrics who are amazing and always really let me do my thing and support my ideas. I absolutely love seeing how people then take my fabrics and create something new… I think creativity is essential to happiness, so it feels so special when I have a part in someone’s creative play, it’s a privilege. My most recent collection with them is called Underwater and it’s based on my first foray into snorkeling on the Mayan Reef.

I also love working with the Land of Nod who always gives me super interesting and creatively challenging projects. Last year, I got to design a set of wooden baby blocks. A big undertaking, each of the 26 blocks had 6 sides and required a different illustration, and I had a blast working on it. I also love doing bedding with them. I have some crib sheets with a nest theme, and I’m always seeing pictures on Instagram of people’s babies curled up in the nest motif and it warms my heart.  

And some projects are just so interesting and unexpected, things that I wouldn’t have dreamt about working on… floor tiles, or lamps, carved wooden chests, paper dolls. You just never know what’s around the corner.

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

I would love to do a wallpaper collaboration, pretty office products, or gardening products like cute plant pots. I’d also love to a cosmetics collaboration, doing packaging!

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

Pen, paper, ipad.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

I find inspiration everywhere I look… I think it’s important to always have your eyes really truly open to what’s around you. I’m inspired by my city — Toronto is an amazing city with a pulsing creative energy, and I have lots of talented friends here! Sometimes it’s the pattern on an old mattress waiting for trash collection, or the shape of a leaf in my neighbour’s garden. I love used book shops and flea markets, and pick up things to bring home to my studio — I think it’s important to surround yourself with beautiful things. I take a lot of pictures when I’m out and about and somehow all of those images culminate in my brain and come out when I’m doodling. And I’m endlessly inspired by nature so I try and escape the city and get out into it when I can. Travel is also a huge inspiration for me — the inspiration from those adventures constantly fuels my work.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

William Morris

When I'm long gone, I hope people remember me for spreading beauty

Ask an Agent: Interview with Brenda Manley

Today we have another great interview for you! I had the pleasuring of chatting with Artist Agent, Brenda Manley to ask her about her agency, projects and working life. We talk trends, portfolios and tradeshows!

Grab a cuppa, tune in and enjoy :)


Brenda_Manley_Design_logo

If you would like to see more from Brenda and her studio, check out the following links:

Website: brendamanleydesigns.com

Instagram: @brenda_manley_designs

Ohn Mar Win and Harriet Mellor are no longer represented by Brenda Manley Designs but you can find them on the following links: Ohn Mar Win  and  Harriet Mellor.

Designer Spotlight: Andrea Turk

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

Hello, my name is Andrea Turk and I am a designer living in the countryside in Northern Ireland with my husband Paul and goofy Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Pickles. I trained as a Fashion Designer and did that for many years specialising in the children’s market working internationally, before taking on the role of Trend forecaster for Mothercare UK, which then lead on to setting up Cinnamon Joe Studio, as my love of graphics took over from the fashion side of the children’s market. I can honestly say I love what I do.

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY/WEEK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

My day starts of with waling the dog. I check the most urgent emails first and settle into creating something. If I have had time the night before I might have prepared a sketch, if not I just see how I feel and start creating something on the computer and see were it takes me. It’s exciting, since every time I sit down at the computer it’s an adventure.

WHAT’S THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB?

There are two parts really, seeing artists we represent develop and grow with confidence and looking back at my art and thinking how much better the artwork that I produce now is, it is very satisfying to do regularly. The journey that one takes is amazing and the artwork reflects that.

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Don’t be afraid of Photoshop. I learnt photoshop many, many years ago, and then Illustrator became the thing to use, so I dropped photoshop and never used it again, loosing that skill was silly. Now, photoshop is the software of choice and I have reignited the passion for the texture and brushes that only Photoshop has and I love mixing the two with other components. 

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

I really can speak from experience as several times I have had design blocks and it is the freakiest thing. I try really hard not to stress myself out about it as it doesn’t help. I’ll go to some of my favourite shops, or the museum and if those don’t get the creative juices flowing, I will take a course like 3D textiles, because I don’t do it for a job, I tend to relax more and then find out of the blue I’ll want to sketch.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

 My computer, wacom tablet and pen. 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? FAVOURITE APPS AND PROGRAMS

Focused. I used to be able to multi task, but now it is one job at a time and if I break the concentration it is very hard to get back in that zone, so I have to be really focused.

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

I am really lucky as I work with great clients that give fantastic briefs. 

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

My computer, wacom Bamboo and electricity to run everything on.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

Tokyo is the best place in the world and I go every year, the inspiration that I get keeps me going for months and months. It is amazing as everything has graphics and there is colour and pattern everywhere, you don’t have to go far outside your hotel to feed on the buzz that is Tokyo inspiration.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

I wouldn’t, there are so many wonderful designers for so very different reasons, too hard a question to pinout just one.

COULD YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT CINNAMON JOE STUDIO?HOW DID YOU START?

I had a burning desire to create graphics, so I spoke to 2 of my fellow design friends and the three of us collectively took on a booth at PV in Paris. Paul, my husband came with us, he drove and took on the role of sales. As newcomers we were stuck out in a corner from all the action, but several companies approached us and we sold work and have never looked back.

HOW DOES CINNAMON JOE APPROACH FINDING AND TAKING ON NEW ARTISTS (FOR EXAMPLE HOW OFTEN, DO YOU EVER REACH OUT TO DESIGNERS YOU HAVE SEEN ONLINE...)?

Many of the artists approach us through the contact page on our website. We will take on artists that offer something different to the norm and also do not cross over with any of the artists that we represent. On the rare occasion we do approach artists.

HOW DO YOU PREFER TO RECEIVE SUBMISSION AND HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM TO BE PRESENTED? 

It is better if artists send low res jpegs or at least a link to their website when sending an introduction. Generally, if artists just send a blurb with no images of no social media site reference, we will not bother, since time is key.

MANY DESIGNERS STRUGGLE WITH SELF DOUBT, DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE TO SOMEONE WHO IS WONDERING IF THEIR WORK IS GOOD ENOUGH, OR ON THE RIGHT TRACK?

Yes, try and seek advice from other artists. When you work in isolation self doubt does creep in, it happens to all of us at some point. Firstly, believe in yourself and that will shine in your artwork, secondly join artist groups, it is a great way to stay in contact with other like minded people, ask their advice.

DO YOU AND YOUR ARTISTS FOLLOW TRENDS? HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK THEY ARE?

We send trend info out to all of our artists. It is important to be aware of the trends and what is happening in terms of colour, themes, techniques as it will have a knock on effect on the sales of artwork. However, it is also important that each artist designs instinctively, by that I mean, creating is an emotion that each artist goes through, so you have to have the feelings to want to create and then remember that creating artwork is an adventure, so go where your emotions take you.

AFTER THE ACTUAL ARTWORK, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE NEXT MOST IMPORTANT THING AN ARTIST/DESIGNER SHOULD FOCUS THEIR TIME ON?

Experimenting. Only by asking yourself, "what if I try it this way, or what happens if I use this colour” etc. will you really grow as an artist. It is amazing how many artists out there stick to the one style and never try anything else. In this day and age, you have to have the ability to do lots of things in lots of different ways, so experimenting is key.

IF A NEW LAW WAS PASSED AND YOU COULD NO LONGER BE AN AGENT OR ARTIST, WHAT WOULD YOU DO INSTEAD?

Easy, interior design.

WHAT SHOWS DO YOU ATTEND AND EXHIBIT AT? 

We are trying some new shows in 2017, but our main show is Blueprint, which we organize. The origin of Blueprint, was the desire to create an event which was reasonably priced and free to visitors to attend. It is very much a participant event. The exhibitors get involved and make it their own. We are still young in event terms, but the show in May is very well received by those that attend, as it has a really relaxed boutique feel. We wanted to be able to help start up designers, so we have the competition to design your own booth for Blueprint, the winner gets not only a free booth, but the help and advice from established studios and designers, and the exposure to clients.

HOW DO YOU PRESENT DESIGNS (E.G. PORTFOLIO BOOKS, PRINTED SHEETS.)

We show paper artwork, as well as a screen presentation.

When I’m long gone, I hope people remember me for my sense of humor. 

Where you can find me: 

https://www.instagram.com/andreatruk333/

Designer Spotlight: Stephanie Fizer Coleman

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

Hi!  I'm Stephanie Fizer Coleman and I’m a children's book illustrator, designer, and Photoshop teacher.  Usually, you'll find me in my home studio, surrounded by books, stacks of sketches, and many cups of tea.  Having worked fulltime as an illustrator and designer for nearly a decade, my client list includes:  American Greetings, Papyrus, Sellers Publishing, Noel Tatt, Mudpuppy, Chronicle Books, Highlights Magazine, and Ladybird Books. 

HOW DID YOU START YOUR ILLUSTRATION BUSINESS?

My illustration business grew from my Etsy shop.  As my Etsy shop grew, my work was noticed by art directors and I slowly started getting freelance work and licenses.  Actually, for several years, my shop kept me so busy it was difficult to fit freelance work in.  About 3 years ago, I decided to scale my shop back and spend more time focusing on illustration and design jobs instead.  Early last year, I signed with a children's publishing agent and since then have been happily illustrating books and kids' magazine spreads. 

WERE YOU ALWAYS DRAWN TO CHILDREN'S BOOK ILLUSTRATION?

My journey to an illustration career was a fairly long and winding one, but I think children's illustration was just a natural landing spot for me.  Books were such a big part of my life as a kid (and still are as an adult, of course) and children's book are such a beautiful mode of expression, loved by both kids and adults alike.  These days, I illustrated mostly nonfiction picture books, about animals, birds, the ocean, etc, so to be illustrating the same sort of books that I loved most as a child, well,  it makes me tear up just writing about it.  I love this work.

you tech a photoshop class at atly's. could you tell us a little bit about that?

Yes!  I teach a series of classes on Atly called Photoshop for Illustrators.  There are two classes right now, with a third in the works.  You know, I just felt strongly that illustrators could benefit from a Photoshop class designed just for them.  I spent so many hours searching for tutorials and trying to figure out the correct search terms for what I wanted to do back when I was first learning Photoshop.  Now, with nearly a decade of Photoshop experience, I felt compelled to build Photoshop classes that pared this massive software down into manageable chunks for illustrators and designers.  I love being able to share my knowledge and getting to see art that students have created using my Photoshop techniques is almost as rewarding as creating art myself!

what kind of work do you do these days?

My days tend to be a fair balance of illustration work and licensing work, which is perfect for me because I am easily bored and enjoy the challenge of balancing both ways of working.  My illustration jobs are usually intense, requiring research because they are nonfiction, and requiring lots of time as well.  Finding time to work on my licensing portfolio, or being commissioned to design greeting cards or wrapping paper, is refreshing and challenging in its own way.  I'm definitely never bored!

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Be more brave about putting your work out there.  No one will ever enjoy your work or hire you for a commission, unless you're actively sharing your work.

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

Exercise and fresh air are usually the key for me, so I'll head out for a nice walk with my dogs or run a few miles on the treadmill.  Really, anything not art or design related usually helps sort me out when I'm feeling stuck. 

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

Photoshop and my Cintiq 22HD are my true loves, but all of my work starts with my favorite mechnical pencil and a stack of copy paper to scribble on.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? FAVOURITE APPS AND PROGRAMS

Because I'm an illustrator and a designer, my process varies a bit depending on what I’m working on.  My children's book illustration work usually requires a bit more prep as far as research and sketch studies.  My design work usually begins as some sort of doodle in my sketchbook that leads me along a trail to an idea I want to develop.  From there it's really the same process for illustration or design, for me:  thumbnail sketches to figure out layouts, lots of notes to myself scribbled all over sheets of copy paper, a more refined but not very neat sketch, then I take it all into Photoshop where I work on color and texture for the final art. 

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

 I've worked on several kids products for Mudpuppy over the last few years, mostly puzzles, but also sticker sets and finger puppets.  Those projects are always fresh and fun, and the final products are always just lovely.  I'm always excited to see a new Mudpuppy job pop into my inbox. 

I got to design some dog-themed gift wrap over the summer and prettymuch any project that allows me to draw animals is my favorite project at that moment.

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

Land of Nod, of course!  Also Madison Park Greetings and I'd love to work with Chronicle Books again.  I worked with Chronicle a few years ago on a couple of personalized children's books with coordinating suites of products, but now I'd love to illustrate a picture book with them or even design a stationery series.

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

If we're talking digital art, I need my Cintiq, Photoshop, and probably my iPad Pro.  For physical media, I need my Moleskine sketchbook, my favorite mechanical pencils, and some watercolor brush pens.  I totally cheated and choose six things, didn't I?  Oh well, it's too late now ;)

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

For me, inspiration seems to come mostly from nature.  As a kid, I was forever dragging home leaves or flowers to press and save, clomping through the woods around our house with my father, and reading every single book about animals I could find at the library.  Now, as an artist, I pretty much still do those things, but I have an outlet to express my love for all the things that grow and wander.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

He's more of a design-y illustrator, I think, than a designer, but Charley Harper has been the greatest inspiration to me.  His ability to distill complex bits of nature into simple shapes, lines, and colors was and is unparalelled.  Also, he was from WV, like me!

When I’m long gone, I hope people remember me mostly for my work, that it made them smile, or brightened their life, or just added a bit of beauty.  And I hope that people see my animals or bird paintings and it makes them curiousabout and more respectful of nature. 

Designer Spotlight: Claire Wilson

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

Hi! I’m Claire and I’m an illustrator and surface pattern designer, working from a small studio in my countryside home in Northamptonshire, UK. I love to create fun, illustrative and colourful designs to make people smile. As well as producing my own range of greeting cards and art prints which I sell through my online shops, I also license some of my designs through The Paintbox Art Agency for use on greeting cards. I also work with some UK retailers on a freelance basis across a wide variety of projects, some of which have included bedding, nursery products, children’s bedding and nightwear apparel. Over the course of the last year, I have completed all four modules of the Art & Business of Surface Pattern Design and was fortunate enough to have been shortlisted as one of the top 8 for the Printsource 2016 Competition. I absolutely love my job and feel very lucky to be able to do what I love every day. 

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Be strong and just believe in yourself. You will experience a lot of things in the years to come; some bad, some good and some amazing! Stick with your gut instincts, go for it and most importantly, have fun.

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

I’m getting much better at knowing when to take a break from something that’s just not working, instead of sticking at it and trying to force myself to carry on - it just doesn’t work! I have to take myself away from my desk and do something completely different. Whether that’s exercising, seeing a friend for a cuppa, baking a cake or taking my Springer Spaniel, Bertie, out for a walk in the countryside that surrounds my house. He’s a great distraction and I find a change of scenery can really help to clear my head and allow me to re-focus.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

My Wacom tablet and pen – I can’t use a standard mouse anymore, it just feels so clumsy! I love my retractable pencil and brush pen too, and have several pencil cases full of lots of different drawing pens. I like to work on loose sheets of paper as I personally find sketchbooks really intimidating and feel pressure to make every page amazing which is a bit silly really! Single sheets also make it a lot easier for me to scan in my sketches and work on them digitally.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? FAVOURITE APPS AND PROGRAMS

I spend a little bit of time researching and collecting initial ideas and images from magazines or Pinterest, then I put on some music and start sketching! I have music on all the time as I really can’t handle working in silence! The type of music can help to influence and inspire me, and often gets me into a good creative zone. If I’m struggling, often changing the music I’m listening to can really help. I usually start my process by quickly sketching out rough ideas in pencil first to get them out of my head onto paper. I then draw them up in more detail, refining and changing the design as I go. If I’m designing patterns for a new collection, I tend to draw out individual elements first and bring them together in Adobe Illustrator to form a pattern, playing around with colours, composition and scale. If I’m creating new designs for greeting cards or art prints, I usually sketch out the full composition I want to create and then I use my light pad to trace over my pencil lines and create black ink versions which I can then scan into Illustrator and use the Live Trace tool.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

Being a freelancer, I get to work with some great clients and I love the wide variety of projects that I’m asked to work on. It’s always a great feeling when you can see your designs on real life products for people to buy - I never get bored of that buzz! It can also be quite challenging and often pushes me way out of my comfort zone, making me work in ways that I wouldn’t usually work but it’s a great feeling when I manage to achieve what my client needs. One of the most recent examples of this is a stag bedding design I created for Dunelm.

I’ve also been working with Avon over the past year to develop some cute new characters, Ava & Friends, for use on nightwear apparel and homewares. The first phase of this project has recently launched and it’s great to see the characters used across a variety of products. Characters have never been something that I’ve felt comfortable designing, but I’ve proved to myself over the last year that I’m capable of designing them. So the biggest lesson for me is to believe in myself, to say yes to new challenges and to worry about the how later!

I was also fortunate enough to have some of my designs selected by Cardmaking and Papercraft Magazine during the Make It In Design Ultimate Portfolio Builder Course last year. I was really excited to see the designs published in their recent October edition of the magazine and loved the idea that people could make their own Christmas cards using my designs!

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

I can’t resist playing around with product mock ups to see how my designs could be used across different product categories and as a result, there are lots of different areas I’d love to get involved with. I’m a stationery geek at heart and love to collect cards, notebooks and gift bags, so it would be great to work with Paperchase on a collection of different products. I’d also like to see some of my designs used on fabric so I’d love to work with Dashwood Studio or Cloud 9 Fabrics to create a collection – it’s great to see the wide variety of products that people make with those gorgeous fabrics.

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

My pen collection, Wacom tablet and Adobe Illustrator. 

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

I find inspiration everywhere, from simple everyday household objects to all things bright and beautiful outside. Nature inspires me a lot and being surrounded by beautiful British countryside means I’m never short of inspiration. I find myself naturally drawing lots of flowers and leaves in quite a bright and stylized way, but have recently been trying to develop my hand lettering and character skills too. I spend quite a lot of time doodling and sketching as I find it helps me to unwind and relax. Sometimes those doodles turn into a finished design and sometimes they don’t but it doesn’t really matter, I just love to draw!

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

Wow, that’s a really tough question to answer, there are just so many incredibly talented designers out there! I don’t really have one favourite designer that I look to for inspiration but I’m constantly discovering new talent and current designers whose work I love and find inspirational. 

When I’m long gone, I hope people remember me for being a hardworking, fun and friendly person who loved to create bright and colourful designs that made people smile and feel happy!

Where you can find me:

Website: http://www.clairewilsondesigns.co.uk

Shop: http://www.clairewilsondesigns.co.uk/shop/

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ClaireWilsonDesigns

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/clairewilsondesigns/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clairewilsondesigns

Twitter: https://www.instagram.com/clairewilsondesigns/

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/ClaireWDesigns/

 

Ask an Agent: Brooklyn Nest Studio Interview

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lacey from the Brooklyn Nest to gain an incite into their thriving studio. She gave really great advice on several topics, I really recommend watching it.

Where to find The Brooklyn Nest:

Website: http://www.thebrooklynnest.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebrooklynnest/

Tradeshows: Blueprint & Surtex 2017