Saturday, 31 August 2013

Designer Feature: Brandi Powell

The weekly designer interviews are back! And this week we have the wonderful work by Brandi Powell

So Brandi tell us all a little about yourself and your background as a designer

In 2005 I left my corporate HR Management job for art school.  It was frightening because I hadn’t tried to draw since I was very young, it was a risk, but one I had to take.  I graduated with my BA degree in Graphic Design and Fine Art in 2008. Best thing I ever decided to do.  I did an internship with a great design firm in my town through the summer of 2008, but then I decided that I really wanted to work for myself.  That is truly why I had left Corporate America.  I have been working as a freelance artist since 2008, 5 years now.  Working freelance allows me to be choosy about my projects and have the most time to draw and design whatever I want!!!

So true! It’s amazing to have the freedom to live your dream, so why did you want to be a designer in the first place and what is it you like about patterns?

After working for 10 years in Corporate America, I realised that was NOT what I wanted for myself long-term.  I started getting interested in creating a few years before I decided to quit my full-time job and return to college for art.  Since that time, Adobe Illustrator, my tablet and I have become the best of friends.  I love illustration and started designing patterns to add more texture and interest in my work.  Then I realised that patterns could stand on their own.  I love the idea of product placement as not everyone can afford fine art, working art into everyday life is a wonderful way to brighten someone’s day.

That is such a lovely idea, it’s nice to be able to design beautiful patterns that people can afford, and to make their homes a brighter place.  How would you describe your style and what is your favourite medium to work with?

I consider my style a fresh modern style that has been said to have a vintage twist.  Modern because of all of my work is done digitally so it doesn't look hand-drawn.  The vintage twist has more to do with the fact that I tend to be inspired by anything vintage.  I look toward the future, but am very inspired by the past.  My work is all done in Adobe Illustrator.  My ideas and project sketches are done in Illustrator with a tablet, rather than a traditional sketchbook.  Ilustrator allows me to easily manipulate my designs and save a great deal of trees.

And What inspires you? where do you find your inspiration?

Right now my biggest sources of inspiration for my playful design collections are my niece, nephew and vintage children’s books.  They remind me to stay young and have fun.  I am also very inspired by nature, natural colour and retro design.  I LOVE retro design.  Anything from the 1950’s through to the 1970’s.  I think that we can learn a lot from the designers of the past.

Historic designers are a fantastic source of inspiration, Brandi’s work is wonderfully playful with beautiful colour palettes that I can see selling really well in today’s market.  Below you can see some of her collections:

If you are a designer and would like to be interviewed and featured please get in touch!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Tigerprint Competitions

I love Tigerprint Competitions, they are competitive, professional and not decided by public vote.  These type of competitions often end up with the winning design being the one who has the most friends, don't get me wrong I've entered these competitions before and have roped everyone I can possible think of into voting for me.  The problem is that after a few of these competitions you feel cheeky asking for votes, it also doesn't feel like you've deserved the win, or at least for me it doesn't.

For those that do not know, Tigerprint are the sole producer of greetings products for Marks and Spencers stores, they also run a design competition each month for designers just like me.  The prize is fairly handsome at £200 and a possible studio placement and the best thing about it is they decide the winners.  So you definitely know you have deserved to win!

This months competition is a Black and White theme which I am hoping to enter, the deadline is fast approaching though as it is Tuesday the 3rd of September.  For any of you that haven't heard of these competitons (although I'm sure a lot of you will have done) I have started a Pinterest page for all of the Tigerprint Competitions, take a look for a bit of inspiration =) and I'll show you my patterns next week.

Monday, 26 August 2013

I'm back, and where I'm heading next!

And I'm back!  Sorry to have been gone for so long, but not to worry I have plenty coming your way!  First up a little explanation of why I disappeared for almost 3 weeks...I moved house!  It was quite an entertaining move, having to launch the king-size mattress up and over the first floor balcony whilst the next door neighbors were chuckling to themselves was quite possibly the highlight.  I reckon the architect designed this house as a bit of a challenge!

I'm all settled in now and ready to take my designing to the next level and put as much time as I can into it. It's so fantastic to be able to chase your dream, I can't even describe the excitement that flows through me when I think about where this journey may take me.  I'm sure many of you will have heard of the quote 'Do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life' or 'Do what you love, love what you do' and it is so true! It never feels like work when I'm designing, even the admin and marketing side, I love it all.

The wonderful thing is I can share this journey with you all, I can celebrate my wins with you and commiserate my failures with you.  I have so many plans that I have no idea where to start, I've plans to start my own line of greetings cards, to gain many more licensing deals and to build up my freelance business.  In the long run (as I mentioned in my previous post) I'd love to be able to help new designers to the industry, and help them build their own businesses.

It's quite funny for me to pick this out as one of my goals and I'm sure my University tutors would be shocked to hear I would be interested in lecturing young and new designers!  I've always been quiet and shy, but this only means people underestimate me, my Psychology A level teacher thought I was too quiet and that I wasn't understanding the information when I first started.  The information was most definitely going in and not coming out the other ear!  I got an A in my first exam (only 2 in the whole year did!), and it was safe to say he was pleasantly surprised!

Throughout University I was fairly quiet and would often keep my presentations quite concise as public speaking wasn't my favourite thing.  It's completely different when you want something for yourself though, when you are enjoying your work you give it 110%.  I've mentioned I am quite and shy, but I try not to let this stop me, I've single handedly designed and sourced costumes for the Musical Theatre society's 'Spring Awakening' production (wow, what a challenge that was!), I volunteered for Asthma UK children's summer holidays, I've joined quite a few university societies without roping a friend into coming with me (Backstage, Basketball, Scribe Magazine) and I signed myself up to help at the Olympic Torch event in Leeds where I was an Artist Liaison.  For some these may not sound that impressive, but every time I push myself to go beyond my comfort zone even when I'm incredibly nervous!

What are your dreams and goals? message me below or email me as I would love to compile a post about everyone's aspirations =)

Thursday, 8 August 2013

It was in my genes all along!

Well it has been just over a year since I graduated from the University of Leeds and I can’t believe how fast it has come round!  A lot of students are excited about getting into the world of work, gaining loads of experience and finally earning some big bucks! Well it’s not as easy as that sometimes…

At my Graduation with my sister

Not everyone will fall happily into a full time job, and being an employee isn't for everyone either.  My dad is an organic farmer and apart from working on one or two farms when he was just out of college he has worked for himself.  My mum runs holiday cottages and again apart from working in a hotel and as a secretary she has worked for herself for years.  Both of my granddads also had their own businesses and my uncle owns his own garden nursery, so we are quite an entrepreneurial family. 

Up at the farm

I think you have to be a hard worker to go it alone and build up a business though, which thankfully I am.  I don’t like to do things by half, I started working part time in a restaurant at 15 and have worked in several places since then.  It is more than a part time job for me though, as a waitress I get to interact with customers (you can get some real characters every now and then!) and make their experience the best it can be.  I don’t like that people may not be satisfied or happy with how they have been treated or their service.  These things have set me up and channelled me into the job I’m striving for, which is to set up my own business and label.  What a challenge I hear you cry!  And yes it most definitely will be, but boy will it be worth it. 

My university course set me up for the design side of the business, I’m confident with my Illustration and Surface Pattern design abilities, I've learnt to use the software effectively, choose different styles of colour palettes and bring things like Typography into my work.  This business side of freelancing and setting up your own business was missed out though, which I find a little daft as I’m sure there will be a good percentage of my course mates who will try and go it alone. 

So since graduating it has been one learning curve after another, I honestly wouldn't have it any other way though.  That lost feeling I had after graduating where I had no safety net and the feeling of being shoved out into the wild to fend for myself is slowly dissipating (thank goodness!) and I am finding my feet.  In the past year I have built up my portfolio and can clearly see how I have improved as a designer.  I've got a few licensing deals under my belt and am now moving to a new house where I will have my own design study so I can really get down to business.

It’s quite good to reflect and see how far you have come in a year or even half a year.  It may feel like you are only on the first rung of the ladder and still have a loooooong way to go, but if you look how far you have come it’s a bigger step than you may think!  Every little achievement is worth celebrating as it is helping you get a little higher and a little nearer to your dream!

In a few years time I would love to help students who are thinking about freelancing or setting up their own label.  I’m not sure many University courses cover topics such as handling your finances, selling wholesale, going to trade shows, finding freelance work and simple things like setting up your own website.  I always wanted to be a teacher when I was little =)

Friday, 2 August 2013

Catch Up with Sarah Fleming

Carrying on with my ‘Catch Up’ series where I find out what designers I have already interviewed before to see how they are doing and what they have been up to.  Well today I have Sarah Fleming whose beautifully intricate work I showcased back in December, well her work has really evolved and I can’t wait to show you below.  First make sure you have a look at what she showcased in December!

So Sarah, what have you achieved since the last feature, do you have any news you’d like to share?

Since my last feature I have been very busy! During February and March, I interned in Australia. It was the most amazing experience, I loved every minute! I spent my days drawing and designing overlooking the most beautiful scenery and travelling in and around Melbourne meeting so many lovely, talented interior professionals. I have included a few snippets of the designs I created and the product mock ups created for the Visual Imprint (formerly Belladonna Digital Imprint) product shoot. (Please note that these images are copyright to Visual Imprint the full collection can be seen here). I gained such a fantastic insight into the Australian market and current trends over there, and have developed some great links. I hope to go back in the near future.

When I came back to the UK, I was filled with inspiration and motivation. I have been looking into getting a few different products manufactured with my designs on - notebooks, pocket mirrors etc, which I am hoping to have ready in time for Christmas. However, a lot of my time has been spent working on a calendar for 2014 which I have created and illustrated from scratch. This is very near to completion so you will all be able to see it soon, but here are a few snippets of other designs I have created for my own personal use and for various competitions I have entered.

That sounds fantastic! I’m so jealous you got to jet off to Australia, it sounds like you had a pretty amazing experience.  I can’t wait to see how you use your inspiration and to see your future products, keep us posted!

Why did you want to be a designer and what do you like about patterns?

I have always loved art. As a little girl I was happiest with a pencil in my hand, doodling the days away. I loved spending all of my time being creative and it was something that made me excited. I think studying Textiles at college is where my love for drawing and pattern really started to develop and I knew it was what I wanted to study at degree level to pursue as a career.

I love everything about pattern, and that it can be found everywhere! I find myself constantly on the look out for new inspiration and I am always armed with my camera, just incase something catches my eye. 

I’d love to know what you have learnt in the past 8 months and how you feel you’ve grown as a designer?

In the past 8 months, I would say I have learnt so much about myself. I am developing into quite a confident, brave designer more willing to take risks and try new things. I think that taking the opportunity to go to Australia has helped with this, and definitely opened my eyes to the world of design. I have always wondered whether I am good enough, as I think most designers worry at some point in their careers, but I am full of self belief now, confident in my abilities and enjoy the chances that I get to put my work out there for people to see. 

Yes I think most designers have the fear of not being good enough, I know I do, it is wonderful to hear that you are confident and I can definitely see you going far so keep at it!

Lastly, what does the future hold for you?

As for the future, I am going to continue drawing and designing - working on my calendar and developing products and hope that everyone else enjoys my work as much as I enjoy creating it! 

It’s been great to have a catch up with you Sarah and I know I can’t wait to see where you are in another 8 months or so =)  Here are some of Sarah’s designs from her time at Visual Imprint and some of her own patterns.