Friday, 30 January 2015

5dayartchallenge: Day 2

'Daisy-Chain' is a series of visually linking delicate lace flowers. There are only 6 pieces and each is different. You might recognize 'Link 2' as the image I have screen prints of.

'Link 1'

'Link 2'

'Link 3'

I thought that you would like to know a bit about the process behind this series. I was living in Berlin at the time and didn't have a studio at this point. While my husband headed off to work, I hopped on my bike and explored the neighbourhood. I got used to doing this a lot and it made me much more familiar with our surrounding area and the city in general. I don't have a very good sense of direction so Berlin was so daunting as a city at first and I regulary got lost. My husband was so sweet and he used to draw me maps with landmarks that I knew to help me get familiar with areas that were just black holes to me! So, here below is a lovely little organic cafe that I found in our neighbourhood where I sat drawing under the leafy canopy of a huge tree. It was a warm summer's day and I sat there for hours- lovely!

This day I had gone exploring and wandered into another district. I found a beautiful cafe/gallery and got down to work. I even found my way home as well ;)

If you are interested in purchasing 'Link 2' you can find it directly from me through my webshop  and also on Etsy

Thursday, 29 January 2015


Today I was nominated by the lovely Dublin based illustrator Rachel Corcoran to do the #5dayartchallenge. For those that aren't familiar with this, you post 3 related works for 5 days, and nominate a different artist each time. This is a great excuse for me to organize my artwork, and I was very surprised to see what a huge amount of work I have actually produced! There I was thinking that I hadn't made much but it turns out that I have made much more than I thought (especially as so many things I do never make it online!).

Today's 3 works are original artworks that are inspired by my Japanese heritage (my Mother is half Japanese). I created two of these in Berlin, Germany and the last is actually my latest painting which I made here in Ireland.

'Macrame Petals'
25cm x 25cm, Acrylic, Pen & Pencil on wood. 

25cm x 25cm, Acrylic, Pen & Pencil on Wood. 

'Sea Pottery'
25x25cm, Acrylic and pen on wood. 

All of these are available at 2020 Art Gallery in Cork City. 


Friday, 16 January 2015


I was recently at a group art exhibition where one of the artists was curating. One of her friends, who was also in the exhibition, was rearranging all her own artwork. The woman that was curating let her friend put her own work in front of all the other work that was on display, moving things around with quite erratic behaviour. Two friends were with me and were almost pushed out of the way several times. I bought a card by said artist before I left, but as soon as we got outside my friends started to comment on how rude the woman had been. Sometimes things happen and they are so shocking that it doesn't sink in until after- this happens a lot with me when I encounter bad behaviour- perhaps I have an innocent outlook in life, but I always expect the best of people.

The woman that was curating was lovely and very pleasant but the friend just scowled at us as we came in and kept getting in our way as we tried to browse through the different artworks. Now, this person is a fantastic artist and I was considering buying one of her works, but I couldn't believe how unpleasant and rude she was. We were out shopping for Christmas and she couldn't even let us look at artworks for 10 minutes as she was so desperately trying to put all her own artworks on view. We watched her actually taking down and replacing hanging works and putting all her prints at the front of each section. This was actually a small exhibition of local artists- many who know each other- so I just couldn't get over what she was doing.

This is a mature woman who should know better. In an art gallery, the curator is there to keep everything as it is, and fair. Nepotism isn't welcome in group shows- why would it be called a group show if everyone's work isn't meant to be seen?

I have an interest in many types of art and this artists work is very skillful and lovely. However, I won't be purchasing or promoting any of her work again as I thought it was really unacceptable behaviour. When you buy art from an artist, you are not just buying the piece- you are buying something that they have created, put their energy and effort into. You can hang this piece in your home to admire for years to come. If I had bought an artwork from this artist, every time I looked at it I would have remembered how unpleasant she was. People tend to switch off and not think about where the things they have come from, but in reality this is something we should be more aware of.

I would love to hear others thoughts on this as it happened a while ago but I haven't been able to shake it off and the incident has kept bugging me. I always try to be as fair as possible as an artist and have no problem promoting others work- I really enjoy it and don't understand why someone would gallery-hog like this (think I just made up a good expression!).

Looking forward to hearing your views, Lily x

Monday, 12 January 2015

The Wonderful work of Chloe Rafferty (Days In Design)

Based in Wales, artist Chloe Rafferty creates beautiful appliqué and embroidered textile artworks and jewellery. Chloe incorporates lovely fabrics and patterns into her work, using them as a base for her free-motion embroidery.

The name 'Days In Design' came about because sewing was originally something Chloe did when she was poorly or when the weather was too bad to go outside. Now that her new business 'Days In Design' has taken off, Chloe often works when it's nice outside too! 

1. How did your business come about (and when did you start)?

I've been a graphic designer for many years and I have worked in publishing and illustration. I have no formal training in textiles but my mum taught me to sew and use a to sewing machine when I was very young so I guess it was only a matter of time before I combined them.

Days In Design started life just one year ago (Christmas 2013), when on holiday in Cornwall. I would normally have been out running with my two dogs, mountain biking or swimming in the sea but I was feeling rather poorly with a cold. I hadn't sewn for ages but I bought myself a craft magazine to keep me entertained indoors, which came with a free felt sewing kit. I ignored the instructions for christmas tree decorations and began to create my own little hand sewn designs.

After that I just couldn't stop! After doing a lots of hand embroidery I brought myself a sewing machine and began to teach myself free-motion embroidery. I'd seen a few examples on Pinterest and thought that it looked like a technique that would really suit me: being able to combine my skills in design and illustration with my love of sewing and fabrics!

Images © Chloe Rafferty

After creating a few more pictures I began to sell a few originals to friends and then decided to scan some and try to sell the prints. Days In Design has just grown from there! It was more of an 'evolution' of a new passion, rather than a 'business plan'!

2. Can you give a quick insight into your working method? (ideas, techniques, etc.)

My inspiration for images comes from many things – travel, photographs I've taken, stories I’ve read, the area where I live and simply things that I love. Sometimes I sketch out ideas before I start, especially if they are big or complicated pictures, however the final textile version never ends up looking the same - the design always evolves as I work and come up with new ideas!

My appliqué and embroidered textile artworks and jewellery are made by cutting and layering carefully chosen fabrics on a base fabric, usually calico. I secure the fabric in place using Bondaweb (iron on glue) and then by stitching over the top using free-motion machine embroidery, effectively ‘drawing’ with the machine, adding lines, details and textures, sometimes using different coloured threads and adding some hand embroidery or beading to finish. I don’t currently use any fabric printing or painting in my illustrations, all the visual elements are found within existing fabric designs. I don't use any computer programmed embroidery either, it is all completely free hand.

Images © Chloe Rafferty

3. What has been the hardest single obstacle to your life in design (apart from a shortage of time, which seems to be universal amongst creatives!)?

I find self promotion really difficult. I am very fortunate to have the ability to design my own branding and packaging etc which really helps to make it all look professional, but I do struggle with constantly having to push myself out there to make sales. I would much rather just create my images than spend time trying to sell them! Opening a shop on Etsy and getting some of my work into local galleries has helped. I've had my share of rejects from websites and galleries too but you just have to remember that it's only usually one persons opinion and there are plenty more opportunities out there if you keep looking!

Some months can be great for sales and it feels like you've really cracked it but the next can be slow again for no obvious reason which can be very disheartening. It can be hard not to take it personally, after all, you put your heart and soul into your art, but it's really important to learn not to let it get to you. I've had to find ways to turn the worry into determination! 

Images © Chloe Rafferty

4. How do you stay motivated? What inspires you?

My motivation comes from the great comments and feedback I receive. I love taking my work to craft fairs and listening to what people have to say about it. I have often had people coming to find me because they follow me on Facebook, love my work and and wanted to see it for real. That always amazes me and really inspires me to carry on.

It's so important to me to only make pictures that I know I will enjoy. I made the mistake a few of times early on of agreeing to make images that I wasn't inspired by and even some that were not even in my style! I didn't enjoy making these at all and really didn't like them when they were finished. I felt like I had 'sold out' and I didn't even want look at my sewing machine for a good while after! I now only make pictures in my own way that I know I will love working on and that won't shift me too far out of my comfort zone and stress me out! 

All my design work, sewing and constant self promotion is very time consuming and hard work but I try to make sure I give myself plenty of time to get out and do other things that I enjoy and get away from my work for a while. If I don't, I find I quickly loose motivation and then have to take a much longer break before I feel I am ready to start again! Luckily I am my own boss so I can structure my day and my work around anything else I want to do, e.g. I can go out and play all day and work all night if I want to, which works rather well for me as I am a bit of a night owl! 

Image © Chloe Rafferty

5. What has been the icing on the cake for you as a artist/designer?

The icing on the cake for me is every compliment I receive about my work and every sale that I make! I have now sent my work all over the world but I still find it hard to imagine that people love my pictures and brooches and want to buy them to put on their walls, or to wear! I am so excited every time I sell something, no matter how small! I have a few lovely regular customers so I must be doing something right?…

I really love running my workshops. I did my first one as part of an exhibition I had last year but enjoyed it so much I have organised them regularly since and have lots more planned for this year. It's fabulous meeting new people with a common interest and being able to share the skills I've learn so recently myself. 

Images © Chloe Rafferty

6. Who do you admire (other artists/designers; other people generally) and what/who are your biggest influences, past or present?

My Mum and Dad have had a big influence on my creativity. They are both great artists (although my Mum won't admit it!) and have encouraged and inspired me in my art since I was tiny. They always made beautiful gifts for me at Christmas and spent a lot of time doing creative things with me as I grew up. They have been so supportive in my choice of career: photography, then design and now textiles.

My partner Jonny is also incredibly encouraging, supportive and helpful, making me amazing display stands for fairs and letting me take over his 'Man Cave' when I started running workshops (although occasionally I do find a motorbike in there!!). He believes in me!

There are so many amazing artist and designers that I admire that I can't list them all here. I have made many new friends over the last year, through Facebook and attending Fairs, each if whom face the same ups and down as me in running their small business, and are really understanding when you need a sounding board. I really admire anyone who takes the plunge and gives up their day job to start their own business. It's a really scary thing to do. 

Image © Chloe Rafferty

7. Describe your creative space

Organised chaos! I am lucky to live in the most gorgeous place - a tiny village nestled into a little valley on the North Wales coast with the sea on one side and the mountains of Snowdonia on the other. I love 'the great outdoors' and the views of the mountain side from my studio window are amazing.

I have two desks, one for my computer and design work and one for my fabric and sewing. In reality they are both usually covered in paper and fabric (and other stuff), as is the floor! I have photos, pictures, postcards and cuttings pinned up to inspire me, as well as a huge map of Snowdonia to remind me of all the places I need to go outside and enjoy! 

Image © Chloe Rafferty

8. What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Believe in yourself and do what makes you happy. 

I also often think of Mr Micawber (from David Copperfield by Charles Dickens) and his faith that 'Something will turn up'. When you've been freelance as long as I have you thankfully find that it usually does! 

Image © Chloe Rafferty

You can read more about Chloe on her website and buy her work from her Etsy Store. Chloe also takes commissions and runs free-motion embroidery workshops from her home in North Wales.


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Looking back on 2014 and Looking forward to 2015

Well, 2014 is nearly over and what a year it has been! I had moved to Berlin, Germany with my partner in 2012 and there we met some of the nicest people I have ever met, making some wonderful lifelong friends along the way and sharing some amazing experiences. I feel very lucky to have been able to live in another country, to work in a foreign language and learn about a different culture firsthand. It completely opened my eyes and was a great experience. 

This March my partner proposed to me! He had spent months helping to design the ring, which is based on my artwork. The band is slender white gold and there is an organic cluster of 7 diamonds- one for each year we had been together. It also reminds me of stars and as I love watching a starry sky, now I just need to look down at my hand :). I love the ring- it's perfect and he couldn't have got it more right!

We moved home to Ireland soon after and I thought I would miss the luxuries and conveniences of city life- being able to pop downstairs to the cafe that we lived over to get a coffee when my caffeine craving hit, meeting up with friends- in particular Mikael and Sandra, the amazing shops, galleries and museums, everything being on tap and on demand, the low cost and yet high quality of living and mainly living in a country that is run efficiently with a government that isn't full of monkeys that are robbing you blind (of course there are monkeys in every government but the Irish government is particularly bad!) 

Of course we missed things in Berlin- cycling in the Summer through the city, beautiful and scary thunder and lightning storms, the lovely community in the area that we lived in with the great food markets where people shopped locally, the huge mix of different nationalities and cultures and I missed my friends (great friendship is priceless and I am convinced that it adds years to your life!) and the brilliant transport system and general freedom that the city offered. 

But everywhere has it's pros and cons and we had grown out of the city, and city life. We missed home- the amazing landscape with it's green fields, woods, cliffs, the sea, the clear starry skies that you only get in the countryside, the great food that makes West Cork a foodies dream and such a popular tourist destination and of course our family and friends. When we went back to visit, we got to see the country from a new perspective and appreciate it a lot more. We could see that although the Irish people are being screwed by their government, this is a rich and bountiful country that has a lot to offer. The wealth is in the land- in the landscape, in the tradition, in the music, in the people. It is our home. 

We brought our little cat Poppy back with us- at the end of the 26 hour journey we were all exhausted! After a year and 3 months of living in our Berlin apartment, Poppy finally got to see more nature than the communal garden in our apartment building. She is now the happiest cat we could have hoped for and runs, leaps and bounds around the countryside. 

She explores the forest and comes home smelling of pine trees, she catches mice and even catches little shrews for Mia...the latest addition to our little family. We have now had Mia for 6 months and she is an equally happy cat (napping on my feet as I type this!).  

In June my Grandma passed away which was a sad time for my family but at 91 she had lived a great life and lived to a very good age. As we had grown up with my Grandma at the bottom of the lane calling in to her when we got home from school and having knitting sessions with her where she taught me to knit, crochet and follow patterns when I was young, I felt a great loss when she was gone. I loved hearing her stories about her past and think of her often. 

In July, a month before our wedding, my partner had a bad accident. He had to have surgery on his leg to remove a small but dangerous piece of metal that had fortunately just missed his femoral artery and had ended up deep inside his thigh. He was in hospital in Cork City for 3 nights and spent over two weeks recovering at home. Everyone kept telling me that you don't appreciate what you have until something happens but I already did appreciate it and was ready to marry this man. I feel so incredibly grateful that he has made an almost full recovery. 

The countryside of West Cork is really breathtaking. Where we live (about a mile and a half off The Wild Atlantic Way) we open our door to views of the sea and mountains, with a forest about a hundred yards away and family nearby. This was the ideal location for our wedding reception which we had in August with only our closest family. The most amazing thing that has happened this year was marrying my best friend, my perfect match and ideal man. The 8 years that we have spent together have flown by and we have grown up together. I love the man that he has become more every day- creative, talented, clever, interesting and always interested, always learning. And of course I think he's absolutely gorgeous with his Scandinavian looks (half Danish, very Viking!) ;). I look forward to growing old with him and can't wait to see what the future holds for us. 

So, that's the highlights of my personal life in 2014. My creative life has also had an interesting year. Aside from exhibiting in Cork City in 2020 Art Gallery and in the West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen, I exhibited in London and Paris for the first time. I worked on various commissions which included my first wedding stationery commission. 

I printed my first range of digital cards which are stocked nationally in Ireland and also in Berlin.  

I created some new work- both illustrative and fine art. I also had some of these designs printed on metal.

'Blue Butterfly'

'Sea Pottery'

I updated my designs that are available on various products from my Society6 store, and also joined Nuvango and Casetify. 

As you will already know if you're reading this, I love to blog! From January- October 2014, I interviewed a hand picked selection of amazing creatives based all over the world for the Artist Features section of my blog. Of these 23 talented individuals I am pleased to say that 7 are from Ireland (there's a lot of homegrown talent here!) Other creatives are based in England, Scotland, France, Italy, Finland, Ukraine, America and South Africa. 

I then created 5 Christmas Gift Guides featuring work by a selection of creatives from my Artist Features. The guides contained 97 different products by 14 creatives. I believe in putting my money where my mouth is and am happy to say that I have work by half of these designers and artists- which includes 7 of the featured items and several more pieces from the same designers. 

Here are just a few of the things that I own and love..

I bought this beautiful necklace by Catherine's Studio to wear on my wedding day in August..

One of three beautiful dishes I have by Mairi Stone...

A beautiful card by Katharine Watson that I have on my studio wall..

I love this print by Jane Ormes (as does Poppy!) and my Mother in law framed it for us for Christmas..

2014 has been a busy year for me! This year my focus has been on family and friends and I have learnt that money isn't the only thing that brings wealth. Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy 2015,

Lily x