Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Super Star Interview: Flora Waycott

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.

This month I am simply thrilled to be chatting it up with the super sweet Illustrator/Designer, Flora Waycott! She creates charming drawings and patterns inspired by her surroundings, with a fun and whimsical approach. With a love of travel and a curious mind, she is constantly inspired by new discoveries, whether it is the shape of a leaf or the contents of her kitchen cupboard. She graduated with a textile design degree in 2004 and has since worked as a textile & pattern Illustrator/Designer, with her work appearing on products from children's apparel to stationery. She currently lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand. You can view more of Flora’s artwork here.

And, oh, it is, isn't it?! Hooray!

Q: Of course, your big news of the moment is being runner-up in Lilla Roger’s Global Talent Search 2014 competition and landing a 2-year contract with her agency. Congratulations!! What are you most excited about? And how do you foresee this moment impacting your creative career going forward?

A: Thank you Jane! This is such a wonderful opportunity and I am excited about many things. I am happy to be a part of such a supportive studio and to be able to ask for help when I need it. It has come at the perfect time in my career; I was looking for representation for a while and I wanted to be promoted by my name. I feel so fortunate to have won representation with Lilla Rogers Studio as I had admired them for a very long time and hoped that one day I would be considered. I am excited about the exposure for my work - it helps immensely having an agent to promote your work for you - something I was trying really hard to do before on my own but it took time away from making art. I think this will impact my creative career by giving my work more exposure and hopefully good things will come! I spent the last year or so working really hard getting my portfolio to where I want it; showcasing my range and style and I am really pleased that it has got me here. I am looking forward to working with inspiring people and about what the future holds! 

Fantastically elegant holiday vision from Flora!

Q: You have a wonderfully eclectic background having lived in Japan, the UK and now New Zealand. How have each of these locals shaped your unique illustration/design sensibility and aesthetic?

A: I feel very lucky to have experienced living in such different parts of the world and the inspiration is different in each place for sure. I think living in different countries opens your world up; you connect with lots of different people and it gives diversity to your way of thinking. This certainly applies to my art as I can draw inspiration from many sources. In the UK I was very fortunate to study very close to London so I was able to visit there often and be inspired by the museums and markets. When I lived in London later on I had all of that on my doorstep.

It has been such a great experience living in New Zealand; I had never been to the Southern hemisphere before coming here 7 years ago and the quality of life is just excellent. I love our house by the sea, it's very calming and peaceful. I have been lucky to be able to visit Australia and the Pacific Islands as they are of course a lot more reachable from here!

I feel mostly drawn to Japan as I have such fond memories of growing up there and go back as often as I can to top up my art supplies and take lots of photos.  I certainly think the delicateness of my work and the cute characters I love to draw come from the Japanese side of me; I remember at school I would spend all of my break time drawing cute pictures with my friends and swapping stickers. I studied at a textile school for a semester in Japan when I was 21 and I remember how incredibly dextrous and patient the students were, taking so much care and pride over their work and spending many hours perfecting their skill. Every single detail had to be just right. My Mum (who is Japanese) also takes an immense amount of care in everything she does, whether it is cooking a meal or looking after her beautiful garden. It really inspired me to really care about my artwork and focus on creating pieces I am proud of.

I'd love to have tea at this sweet table with the adorable teapot!

Q: You have your own line of lovely giclee prints, cards and screen-printed towels. Dish with us about your products, how you produce them, and your journey to place them beyond Etsy into bricks-&-mortar shops. (Shop at Flora's Etsy store here!)

A: Yes, I have been producing my own little range for a few years now, it actually started off as a bit of fun as I wanted to take part in a few craft markets at Christmas time. After I sold them at some markets, local retailers became interested and starting putting orders in and now I stock a range of boutiques. I have found social media, especially my Facebook page and Instagram, to be wonderfully useful for promoting my work - I have had stockists overseas contact me through it and customers find me through there. It is sometimes hard to balance everything, as I also teach textile design at Massey University here in Wellington as well as design work, so I work on my product range when I have some quiet time.

I hand screen print all of my tea towels myself in my garage - we have a little set up in there with a tiny screen printing table we made and some shelves for the pastes. I really like offering a screen printed item as I love how the inks feel on the cloth and the vibrancy of the colours. I also screen print some cards and prints in my garage too. All of my giclee prints and cards are printed at a lovely local printers and I package everything myself at home. When I get really busy my friends come over and help me package my items, which is really helpful as it actually takes a long time to do! It has been great having an Etsy shop as anyone in the world can purchase on there and I love sending my work off to many different countries and imagining my items in people's homes. I am so grateful that people want to buy my artwork.  

Q: Describe your dream project.

A: I have so many dream projects, I feel like I want to try everything out! I am obsessed with stationery and would love the opportunity to design a stationery range for a client - memo pads, sticker sheets, notebooks etc. I was so grateful when Madison Park Greetings published an advent calendar I did last year in December as a personal project - and when they did sticker sheets and enclosure cards to go with them I almost fell off my chair! It was such a dream come true and I would love to create more stationery items. I also love drawing food and would love to illustrate a recipe book. This would be such a joy to do - I love eating and would imagine what all of the recipes would taste like as I drew the pictures! I could get really creative with this - designing the pages, adding sweet kitchen utensils, hand lettering... I would enjoy it so much.

Awww, shucks!!

Q: Tell us a bit about your creative process: how your project ideas are sparked, what does sketching look like for you and how does it all come together with color & pattern?

A: If it is piece of art for myself, for my portfolio for example, I usually go with what I am feeling at the time. For example, I may suddenly want to draw clothes. Or teapots. Or herbs. I have these ideas that come to me, sometimes in my dreams! I am also influenced by my surroundings and what is happening at the moment, for example the seasons, or what I did today. I can relate to the subject matter on a personal level that way and I really enjoy it. I always start off sketching in pencil on sheets of white A4 paper. If I am drawing teapots for example, I look up different shapes of teapots, what motifs/patterns they have on them etc. After drawing in pencil I go over everything using a fine black pen and scan in to my computer. After this I mostly play in Illustrator to bring everything together - there isn't really a formula for this. I just get a feeling when I know I am happy with it.

That is what I do most of the time, but recently I have become very excited about using paint and spend my evenings practicing painting with gouache. It feels great to actually mix the colours myself and work with a different medium. I scan the paintings in and work in Photoshop, separating the elements and bringing the design together. 
Colour palettes can be tricky and sometimes I won't figure that out until the later stages of a design, and other times it comes to me straight away.

I like looking at photos for inspiration and also just going out and about to shops and looking at what's out there. Sometimes I have an exact colour palette in my head and I know the exact shade of a colour I am looking for. It's really weird and I will sit there picking the colours with the colour picker in a hurry so the colour palette doesn't go from my mind! One colour I find really difficult is green. For some reason I find choosing the right shade of green really hard. But I rarely struggle with pinks and corals. I wonder if anyone else feels this about certain colours? I definitely have my favourite colours that I love working with, and recently I have been trying to break out of this cycle and use colours I wouldn't normally. 

Tea, anyone? XO

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: My most perfect Sunday would be in Autumn, when the leaves are turning red, it's not too cold and the sun is out. I would get up early and have breakfast with Nick, we would have bacon, avocado and tomato on toast with tea. If we are in Japan, we would head to a flea market in one of the shrine grounds and browse through old kimonos, fabrics, teapots, wooden sculptures and old postcards. After lunch we would go for a long walk - we usually go for a Sunday walk - just strolling thorough the neighbourhoods chatting about everything. I would then curl up in a sunny spot in the house by the open fire (we don't have a fireplace anymore but always wish we had!), next to our cat Shima, with a cup of tea and my sketchbook and draw anything that takes my fancy. We would then have dinner whilst watching Midsomer Murders or Poirot or some other murder mystery I am obsessed with! Perfect day! 


Thank you so much, Flora, for chatting it up with us here at Bird Meets Worm! We simply adore you & your artwork!

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