Today I have a SUPER duper exciting interview for you, with the loveliest artist ever - Flora Waycott! I have been admiring Flora's work for a long time now and I was so excited when she agreed that I could interview her! She is such an amazing artist, you really should read everything because its so inspiring! enjoy, and thanks so much Flora for letting me interview you!
1. Tell me about yourself.
I am an illustrator and pattern designer from the UK and currently based in Wellington, NZ. As well as working on freelance projects, I teach in the textile department at Massey University here in Wellington and I also have a small range of products which include hand screen printed tea towels, illustrations and cards which I sell through my Etsy and Felt shops and select gorgeous boutiques throughout New Zealand. I live by the sea in Wellington with my partner Nick and our little grey cat Shima.
2. What is your favourite part about being an artist?
I love that I am doing something that I've always wanted to do and that it's limitless; there is always something new to learn and there are endless possibilities. I have always loved drawing and love challenging myself with new techniques, colour palettes and new subject matter. I have recently started playing around with watercolours and who knows what doors that will open up! There is also a wonderful community of artists out there who I have met through markets and online and I feel so grateful to be part of such a supportive community of creative people.
3. You are constantly making new, unique illustrations. How do you find inspiration to keep the ideas flowing?
Thank you! What a lovely thing to say. I am always looking around for inspiration, whether it is in my garden, on a walk, at the supermarket or travelling…I try to notice all of the colour and shapes around me. I tend to set aside time for drawing, so I will take my sketchbook somewhere and dedicate a few hours to sitting somewhere and focussing on it. This usually leads to an idea or a base for a new piece of work. I also love playing around with different textures like crayons and brushes so my work looks really hand drawn and not too digital. I think with the right technique, colour, composition and some thought you can turn something you see everyday that you may not usually notice, in to a piece of artwork.
4. What would you say is your ‘colour palette’? What are your favourite colours to use?
This is a difficult one... I am usually drawn to soft shades like mint, duck egg blue, peach and lilac…with pops of mustard, soft grey and watermelon red…you will see this a lot in my work! I adore the combinations of mustard and grey (with pops of pale blue), orange and blue (yum!) and pink and red (just amazing!).
5. What is your favourite thing to draw?
I have a few favourite things…I do really love drawing flowers, I know that it is a really popular subject matter but I am such a flower girl..it's in my name! I also love to draw birds, cats, and the odd kitchen utensil or two. My style is whimsical and young…I love to make my drawings have an element of charm and cuteness…for example I like to imagine that the animals I draw have personalities so I love adding little details like bow ties and scarves…
6. Would you say you are more inspired by nature or by man-made?
This is such a good question!! My initial reaction would be nature…but lately I have been enjoying drawing all sorts of man-made items…can I say both? I am always wowed by nature and inspired by old botanical illustrations to pretty insects... to the shapes and colours of leaves…so many varieties of the same thing. It depends what I am working on I suppose but I see beauty in both.
7. What makes you happy?
Good food, eating and drawing makes me happy! I just love to eat and cooking is my relaxation. If I have a bit of time, I love to make desserts; I have recently got in to making fancy mousse's and creme caramels. I also love relaxing Sunday walks with Nick and being with my family (which is quite rare now as none of them live in NZ).
8. What are your hobbies outside your design business?
As mentioned above, I love cooking. I also love to sew and make things for myself and for friends... I love writing letters and would hate for this to die out! My English granny writes to me all the time and I also write to my best friends back home and send them little items I think they would like. I also love decorating the envelope and choosing paper…I am totally devoted to stationery. I have also recently started taking Japanese lessons - I am half Japanese and grew up in Japan - and I want to keep learning and practicing the language. It's so nice to go and do something completely different from my job and meet new people once a week.
9. What are some of the most exciting things that have happened with your business?
One of the most exciting things was having some of my patterns printed in the gorgeous book "Print and Pattern kids" by Bowie Style last year. I feel honoured to have my work nestled in amongst such talent. I have also recently licensed some of my illustrations to a big stationery company in the USA…I can't say too much yet but this is very exciting for me as I am utterly in love with stationery! And of course through doing my work I have met so many other creative people who are full of advice and knowledge..this is invaluable to me.
10. What qualifications do you have to have to become a freelance designer and where did you gain them?
I think it helps to have formal education and training in art but I know people who are successful artists who have had no such training. I have a degree in textile design from Winchester School of Art in the UK and I actually specialised in woven textiles. I then worked as an embroidery designer and then went on to design screen printed and digital graphics for fashion. This was an invaluable experience and I still take what I learned then to feed in to my process now. I then moved more into illustration and pattern design and spent a LOT of my own time (at weekends, evenings) to building up my portfolio and eventually decided to create a product range to sell. I think it is good to gain some sort of experience before you freelance so that you get an idea of how the industry works and know what customers are looking for. There are many online courses out there which support artists and designers and help you learn more about the industry which can help too.
11. Thank you so much for letting me interview you Flora! One last question, do you have any advice for young people wanting to become designers and wanting to do what they love for a living?
Thank you for asking me to be a part of your blog Chloe! Yes…my advice would be don't give up if it's something you really want to do for a living, even when it's really hard and you feel like you're not getting anywhere. I've had plenty of times when I have felt like this! Do everything you can to achieve your goals even if it means working in your spare time or working for free sometimes. It does take dedication and commitment but it is totally worth it if it makes you happy. Get to know other artists and designers so you can swap ideas and support each other. And most of all…be a nice person with good attitude - be positive and doors will open. x
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