Monday, 29 September 2014

The Wonderful work of Victoria Johnson


Victoria Johnson is an English print designer living in Rome, Italy. Victoria creates colourful and fun imagery to 'wear, carry, eat from, sleep on, and live with.' I love the colour combinations that Victoria uses and her work has the ability to instill happiness in the viewer, with her cheerful characters and subject matter. In the busy and competitive world of print and pattern design, Victoria's work is dinstinct and her experience in this field is apparent when looking at stand alone imagery or her work as a whole, such as her stand at Surtex this year. This designer clearly has a lot of fun with her work, but also works hard around her family life, and is an inspiration to many designers out there.


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

I started as Victoria Johnson Design about 2 1/2 years ago. My baby boy had just started morning daycare a few days a week and my daughter was at school full-time and that gave me the opportunity to start making plans. I decided I wanted to try and sell/license my work by myself and see how it went. I asked a friend to help me source and submit to clients and offered her a percentage of my sales revenue. She was very motivating and helped me enormously through the first year.
I've been a designer though for 18 years, working mainly as a fashion textile designer for womenswear, and in the past I owned a studio in New York and London, so I came to this new venture with quite a lot of experience.


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

Mainly I work digitally. Digital files are obviously the most editable type of artwork for commercial use so I've become pretty proficient at both Photoshop and Illustrator. I particularly love illustrator as it's so easy to change colours. But I'm seeing a shift in demand towards more hand-rendered looks and am planning to incorporate that into my collection this year - both painting and embroidery. I've wanted to go back to both for years but haven't explored the possibilities and now feel I have the time and confidence to do that.

Image © Victoria Johnson Design


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 think having my children was the single biggest spanner in the works regarding my career. I couldn't bear to leave them and wanted to be available as much as possible. I absolutely don't regret it and feel like I've had the best of both worlds, even if at times I felt frustrated and wondered if I'd ever get back on my feet.


Images © Victoria Johnson Design


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

Some days it's very hard to stay motivated but thanks to Lilla Rogers' MATS A course I now have a community of Facebook artist friends that I have come to rely on heavily for support and friendship throughout my working day. They are scattered all over the world but we chat almost everyday.
I'm inspired mainly by colour. I love strong but sophisticated palettes and bold imagery. I have colour co-ordinating obsessive compulsion. I can't have poor colour choices around me ANYWHERE.


Images © Victoria Johnson Design


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

I think my experience at Surtex last year was probably one of the most exciting times for me - the realization that doing this is working and all my efforts are paying off. My decision to do this was validated in so many ways and at the end of the show I really felt I was riding the crest of a wave. I hope next year is as successful for me.



Images © Victoria Johnson Design


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

I admire any artist who has taken the leap of faith required to put themselves out in the world. Obviously those who have done it particularly successfully are inspiring to me but I'm reluctant to name names in case I leave someone important out! 
 
I think my most notable influences were my University lecturers (years ago) who really encouraged and supported everything I did, and the designers that I worked with in New York. We were so close for so long and we learnt so much from each other. I think my breadth of experience comes from that period in particular. My parents have also always supported me and my Mom's creativity and flair for design and colour definitely influenced me.
Image © Victoria Johnson Design


7. Describe your creative space

Ha ha ha - this is a bit of a joke. I have a huge room downstairs in my house that is my 'studio'. I decorated it and equipped it beautifully 2 years ago - and have hardly sat in it since. Now it's become a kind of storage space for all my stuff. I do 99.9% of my artwork on the island in my kitchen, dragging things I need up from down stairs then carting it back down again, or just sitting at my computer without a single piece of art equipment around me. I think I like working there because it's clean and uncluttered and not distracting and in the evening I'm in the same room as my children. 


Images © Victoria Johnson Design


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

I'm a firm believer in one thing at a time (for me). My Dad once explained the concept of ratcheting - moving in one direction on a steep incline then plateauing before approaching the next steep incline. This works for me - I tackle one thing at a time and try not to lose focus and get distracted before I finish it. Then I take a breath and start the next. This approach controls my natural inclination to run around in circles panicking.



Images © Victoria Johnson Design

You can see more of Victoria's beautiful work on her Website, keep up to date with her Facebook page and Blog and follow her on Twitter.

As always, if you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it. Don't forget to like the reaction boxes below and to leave a comment :)

x

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Cushions from Society6


Today, my cushions arrived in the post and I'm delighted to say that I'm really pleased with them. The print quality of the cushion covers is fantastic and the cushion insert is bouncy and light and you can't really fault it for a 'throw pillow', which is what they are advertised as. 


Personally, I like cushions to be a bit more hard-wearing, as my husband and I like to snuggle up on the couch a lot, and Poppy and Mia are often curled up asleep on cushions. Here, the cushion on the left has one of my down feather cushions inside and it feels much more luxurious. It's also heavier, sturdier and more practical. It depends on how you like your cushions but the cushion inserts supplied by Society6 are sold for throw pillows, which are mainly for decorative purposes. The actual print quality of the cushion covers is great, so if you are looking to buy one that you want to use as a regular cushion, I would recommend that you just buy the cover and fit it onto your own cushion insert.

Out of the 12 designs available in my Society6 Store, these two are my favourites. Here are some photos of them in my home. It's starting to feel cosier already!




A close up photo of the print quality..





You can buy these designs along with a selection of others from my Society6 Store. The cushions that I have are indoor cushions but there are also outdoor versions available.

Here is little Mia relaxing in front of the cushions :)


x


Monday, 22 September 2014

The Wonderful work of Sarah Ogren


I came across Sarah Ogren's work on Society6 and it jumped out at me as something completely unique and intriguing. To me, collage is an art form that many can not pull off and Sarah is a clear example of someone who can. I love how Sarah combines certain aspects in her work- the layers of illustrated detail, the texture, the patterns and the scenes that they create. Sarah has a wide portfolio of work, from whimsical and dark storybook inspired characters to brightly coloured and detailed mixed media paintings and collage. 

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

I officially started my business 8 years ago after finding Etsy.com. I had been an art student, receiving my BA in General Studio Arts from Southern Illinois University, but I didn't do much showing of my work other than University sponsored shows. I always had the idea that my work needed to be better before I actually made that leap and started showing my work to the general public (boy was I wrong!).
I think the anonymous nature of the internet gave me the initial courage to start. There was a great response and my confidence grew and so did my business.



 Images © Sarah Ogren

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

I would love to say that all of my pieces begin with some grand, well researched idea. But in reality a lot of it is quite intuitive. Sometimes I'm inspired by vintage children's book illustrations or antique photography, and these images will plant a small idea in my mind on the general direction of a piece. Other times it's the happy accidents of the art making process that generate the ideas.
I often begin a piece with what I call play time. I paint a canvas in a very abstract and loose fashion. These abstract paintings serve as the backgrounds to the main imagery of a piece. It is during this play period that I find ideas for the piece begin to flow. If not, I put the piece aside and look at it another time.


Images © Sarah Ogren

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!)?

Marketing!! I find it difficult sometimes to know what people want to hear about my art or how much of the process I should share. I'm always wondering if what I'm sharing is too basic or not basic enough. Is this interesting or only of interest to me? What is this new social media thingy and how do I use it and should I?

 Image © Sarah Ogren

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

The feedback I get from my fans definitely keeps me going. Also, doing art shows and setting goals for what I want to accomplish in regards to my work helps keep me on track.

I'm inspired by vintage children's book illustrations, antique photographs and nature.

Image © Sarah Ogren

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

Freedom. Being my own boss. Structuring my day and my life around what and when I want to do something. There is nothing more satisfying to me than to live my life the way I choose and to do something I absolutely love.

Image © Sarah Ogren

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

I admire people that have the courage to follow their hearts. Even more so if it goes against what society expects of them. I also admire people that are unapologetic for who they are and are comfortable in their vulnerability and imperfection.

Images © Sarah Ogren

7. Describe your creative space

Right now it's pretty chaotic since I'm sharing a studio space with my Mom. But if it were just me, everything would be put away and labeled. Yeah, I'm a bit of a neat freak and don't fit into the messy artist stereotype very well.

 Image © Sarah Ogren

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

When it comes to art making there are really no mistakes. Just serendipitous moments that lead to growth, new ideas and making better art. Yay for happy accidents!


Image © Sarah Ogren

You can keep up to date with Sarah's latest creations on her blog and buy her work from her Society6 and Etsy stores.

x

As always, if you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it. Don't forget to like the reaction boxes below and to leave a comment :)

Friday, 19 September 2014

New Website!


I finally have a new website, which I have been busy working on over the past month. It's my first time doing anything like this so bear with me ;)



I will be adding to the online store when I have some new products. I love the fact that you can now buy direct from me without going through any middleman! 



I hope you like it! You can view the website here

x

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Beautiful work by Louise Body



I just came across the beautiful work of Louise Body and had to share it with all my bird and flower loving readers! I adore this Garden Birds wallpaper, and the beautiful art prints and home ware. That Paul Smith shirt would look well in my collection ;)







x


Monday, 15 September 2014

The Wonderful work of Fiona Harrington Irish Lace


Fiona Harrington's beautiful lacework was recently featured in the local West Cork newspaper. The image of a single sheep drew me to the article and as soon as I had read it I needed to see more of Fiona's work. Lacemaking is such a beautiful tradition and skill and Irish lace is famous throughout the world for its intricacy and beauty. Fiona's work has perfectly captured Ireland's wildlife and landscape. The colour choices add more depth and story to the scenes that she creates and the tones that she uses fit the Irish landscape, like the calm blue that is used to highlight the beautiful West Cork peninsula. Fiona's work has gone from strength to strength and these timeless images have reintroduced the tradition of Irish lacemaking into contemporary Ireland.

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

When I learned how to make lace I began to understand the importance of the practice and also the importance of preserving it. Today there are only a handful of lacemakers left in Ireland. There is a real concern that these skills, like so many other of our indigenous activities will die out. I began to realise that handmade lace would never be able to compete with machine made laces in the area of fashion or interior design so I started to think about how handmade lace could survive? Having worked as an artist, I always saw everything through painters’ eyes so when I started to ‘paint’ with a needle and thread, it seemed to make perfect sense- Make artwork using the techniques of handmade lace! My lace design business officially began this year in 2014. Even though I had been painting and exhibiting my work for many years before that, I never really regarded it as a business. My attitude changed slightly following my degree in Textile Design at NCAD. In a design degree, there is an emphasis on marketing and promoting yourself, which is invaluable for any creative person.



Images © Fiona Harrington

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

When I’m working I try to be as productive as I can possibly be. On the days I’m not feeling particularly creative, I would spend the day organising the office and paperwork side of things or putting together digital press packs and other computer work. Usually after a few days of that I’m looking forward to sitting down with a pencil to do a few drawings. There are very distinct process stages involved in my working week. When I have finalised a drawing, I begin to design a lace pattern and prepare the grounds for lacemaking. Once these stages are complete, lacemaking begins. Depending on the intricacy of the design, I could spend up to 50 hours a week stitching. After this, the mounting and framing begins- it often feels like I will never finish, but I always do and it is so satisfying when I finally get to photograph a new finished Lace piece.




Images © Fiona Harrington

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!)?

The single biggest obstacle to my life in design is the distinction that exists between creative practices- art; craft; design. I feel that these distinctions in a sense create a form of hierarchy which is not conducive to the encouragement and promotion of innovation and independent thinking.



Images © Fiona Harrington

4. How do you stay motivated?

Coffee.

What inspires you?

Ancient architecture and structures, maps, topographical studies, folk stories, flowers, mountains, sheep, the Samuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin, West Cork, New Zealand, everywhere I’ve been and everything that I’ve seen.



Images © Fiona Harrington

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

The opening of the newly refurbished City Gallery in Wellington, New Zealand featured the artist Yayoi Kusama: an artist who has convincingly bridged the gap between art and design. This was an amazing experience. For the first time I recognised what it was like to be completely consumed by your work. The repetition of pattern throughout the show had a huge impact so it’s even more significant now that I make Lace for a living- a practice which engages completely in a repetitive process of pattern making. As an artist and designer, having the opportunity to see these large scale spectacles is always a real treat- definitely the icing on the cake!



Images © Fiona Harrington

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

There are so many…. the afore-mentioned Kusama, the leaf and lace work of Hilary Fayle, the design team Demakersvan- they made a very cool Lace Fence!

In Ireland; Dorothy Cross, the graffiti artist Maser- his stuff with the Damien Dempsey lyrics was great!

Ariana Tobin’s jewellery is really beautiful, I could go on, there are so many amazingly creative and talented people in this country.

My biggest past influences were Georgia O Keeffe and Andy Goldsworthy, they kept me company while I was studying painting at Crawford in Cork.

My current biggest influence is the Kenmare Lace Centre in Co. Kerry, here I learned all my lace techniques. It is a constant reminder of the high standard achieved by Irish Lacemakers and something to always aspire to!



Images © Fiona Harrington

7. Describe your creative space

Due to the nature of lacemaking, it’s really important to have a clean and organised workspace. Everything has a place and things are kept pretty neat. It’s really difficult for me to focus if I am surrounded by clutter and chaos. I have had many studios, all a variety of shapes and sizes. I have shared with graffiti artists and shoe makers. I need a window with good natural light. In West Cork I have a beautiful view of the mountains from my studio. When I’m in a city however, my view is urban and industrial. I Love this. Wherever I am working I like to feel I am immersed in that environment.

Image © Fiona Harrington

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

Make time to stop, sit and be still.

It is very easy to forget to do this, but even just 5 minutes will improve my day greatly.

Image © Fiona Harrington

You can see more of Fiona's work on her website, keep up to date on her Facebook page and buy her work from her Etsy Store.