For our July 2018 kit we've collaborated with Carole Fenwick of MaggieMagoo Designs. Carole is a print and pattern designer extraordinaire and we absolutely love her botanical style.
If you haven't already come across her work, we think you'll love it too! We talked to Carole about her background, inspiration and advice for new illustrators and designers.
How did you first get into print and pattern making?
I've always drawn & been creative, from being very little. My first job was working as a screen printer and designer for a company who sold T-shirts to record/music shops around the country. Then I decided to study Printed Textiles & Surface Pattern Design at Leeds College of Art - I think this was when I really found my love for pattern.
Can you tell us how your first project went?
I've worked as a greetings card designer for a number of years but found I really missed working with textiles so three years ago I started MaggieMagoo Designs (named after my terrier Maggie!).
The first things I designed for my new business was a small range of tea towels & notebooks. To be honest I didn’t really know what I was doing or what I wanted to achieve with my business, I just knew I wanted to create & produce my own designs. I approached a few independent shops who agreed to stock my work, I opened my Etsy shop and was featured on the blog Print & Pattern and things have kind of organically grown from there.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I’m very inspired by the natural world, with flowers, plants & insects featuring throughout my work. I love mid-century design and have collections of vintage textiles, ceramics, kitchenalia, glass, books etc! Oh and I have an enormous amount of plants...
I’m also inspired by other artists and designers, and find Instagram an amazing way to discover new design.
What do you love most about the process?
I think I like all aspects, from initial ideas, creating sketches and doodles, then scanning in my drawings and manipulating/changing colours and creating patterns to receiving the finished products. Actually, the best bit is probably when someone tells me they like what I do and nothing beats the buzz of people buying my creations.
What would be your best advice for those starting out?
There are so many different avenues that can lead you to this line of work. The degree I did at Leeds was a brilliant introduction to surface pattern design and gave me 3 years of creative freedom. If further education is an option, go for it.
I’d also be lost without my mac these days and love working in Illustrator and I’m learning to love Photoshop! The possibilities of what you can do are endless. Play with scale, colour and texture. There’s a lot of competition out there and it can be difficult to get noticed. Build up a range of designs that sit together and work as a collection. I’ve always been told that a group of designs that tell a story make for a stronger, more appealing look.
Do your research - if you’re going to approach a shop, agency or textile company, try to find out a bit about them. Does your work fit with their style and other products they sell? Try not to take rejection personally (this is something I’m working on!). A shop or company can decide your work doesn’t fit for so many reasons, it doesn’t mean that what you do isn’t good.
If you have physical products that you are selling, craft fairs are a great way to reach new customers. I’ve had quite a few retailers see me at a fair and then place orders for their shops. I’ve also had people see my work at a fair and then buy something a year or more later.
I suppose more than anything, it takes time, lots of hard work and perseverance. The majority of designers don’t get ‘discovered’ by a big company, most of us just work our socks off and we do that because we love what we do.
What's next for you, any upcoming projects you're working on?
I’m currently in the process of completing something for Leeds Little Free Library, which is a local community project. A while ago I spotted one of these boxes in Headingley and was really inspired by the concept. It's basically a tiny book exchange, so you can take a book, or leave a book. The boxes that hold the books are really beautifully painted and I was keen to be involved and luckily they said yes. My box is going up in the Alwoodley area of Leeds. I’m so excited to see it in situ!
I’ve got a new collection of enamel pin badges coming out soon and I’m taking part in the GNCCF (Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair) in Newcastle at the Biscuit Factory gallery on 23rd and 24th of June 2018.
Finally, what inspired you for the design for this month's Craftiosity kit project?
The design was inspired by the work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. There’s a big exhibition of her life and art at the V&A in London for the next 6 months. She was an amazing woman and had a really interesting life and I can’t wait to visit it at some point. My most recent work has a very folky feel to it so the pattern came very naturally. I love the way my design translates onto the copper, it’s a beautiful material.
We hope you loved this interview with Carole and we'd like to thank her for such an insightful chat - who's feeling creatively inspired?