Saturday, 31 August 2013

I wish I thought of that #1: Harriet Curtis Designs

Tropical Frog by Harriet Curtis

OH my god I am busy magee right now, one week after coming up with a very basic blogging schedule and i'm already off it! I started my new job on Tuesday and got thrown into the deep end by taking 18 girls ten pin bowling (with two other new members of staff). Initially I was terrified with the idea of being responsible for all these girls but it all managed to go rather smoothly (i.e. no one died.) One of our other  responsibilities as members of staff is to try and get the kids off their iPads and laptops so I'll looking forward to setting up some craft activities with the younger ones. I love an excuse to do a silly little art project that I wouldn't be able to get away with if I wasn't working at a school! I'm still job hunting too so drawing has taken a bit of a back seat once again, although I should have some new stuff posted soon!

In the mean time, here's: 'I wish I thought of that', a monthly feature where I chat with artists and illustrators that I admire and who I am also extremely jealous of! My artistic jealousy inspires me to try harder to create my own style and hopefully it will inspire the odd person who reads this too.

First up is the amazingly talented Harriet Curtis! Let me tell you how I stumbled across her work - I was lucky enough to live right next to Greenwich Market when I lived in London. I walked through it daily on the way to work, university and to see friends etc... It's great in many ways, they have amazing food and antique markets, along with a big general one that can have anything from shoes, to clothes, to craft, to palm reading. After a while though, I found myself getting a little used to walking through this place, I dandered through it once a day (usually more) and as a student I didn't want be tempted into buying things! So the market became a bit of a blur to me. One day however, I was walking through with a friend and Harriet's stall automatically caught my eye, I asker her if we could stop and have a look, I'm very glad we did!

It's been a while since I've seen some truly original artwork at the market and even on Etsy (whilst I love Etsy, sometimes there's only so many moustaches and Owls I can handle), Harriet's work is vibrant and unique and I wish I held the same natural talent she has for watercolours. My personal favourite is her 'Bright Orchid' print which you can see on this cushion here:

Bright Orchid Print on Cushion

I messaged Harriet while ago and asked her a few questions, here's what she had to say:

First off, tell us a bit about yourself!

I am a Textiles Print Designer with a BA for Textile Print from Winchester School of Art. I am currently working from a lovely studio bursting with creativity, called 'The Papered Parlour' in South London. 

In November of last year I decided that I wanted to create my own brand, so I started up 'Harriet Curtis Designs'. Up until this point I had worked for two very different designers. This gave me an important insight into how a business can be run, but also enforced my conviction that I wanted to create my own designs and label. 

Nature is obviously a big part of your brand, is there anything or anyone else who inspires your work?

I draw and paint from the natural world because the colours and unusual organic shapes are so inspiring. Kew Gardens was particularly helpful in this regard as it has a wonderful collection of exotic plants and flowers. My ideas, however, are not solely restricted to nature as I find interesting palettes and forms in all areas of life. 

London is such an exciting city that it would be hard not to be inspired by the soaring landscape and culture around me. The Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition is always an unexpected mix of work from around the UK. I particularly liked Grayson Perry's tapestries, as creating a narrative in art has always been important in my designs. My Tropical Collection focuses more on motif than narrative, but I still find interesting stories inform my work. 

The design company 'House of Hackney' illustrates how you can create ranges of both quirky narrative-based prints of animals 'up to no good', alongside beautiful painted plant repeats. This combination of different ideas that still contain a strong 'brand-aesthetic' is something I hope to achieve in my own work.

Tropical Toucan

What do you have in store for the future of Harriet Curtis Designs?

In the future I want to create more large-scale botanical designs, (like my tropical botanical print) as I find the scale very effective for interior products like curtains. I want to expand my range of products with an emphasis on home accessories, as I have always been excited by interior design. 

I also hope to set up an online shop for my products, as well as selling at more markets in London. I have a stand at Greenwich Market, which has been a great way of creating public awareness for my new brand. Spitafields and Covent Garden Market would also be good places to start selling my products. 

 Finally, What tips would you have for any aspiring artists or illustrators out there?

I think it is important for any aspiring illustrators or artists to get themselves known to the public as soon as possible. This could be through social media like 'Facebook' and blog sites, through to markets and exhibitions. Promotion of your brand will expand your customer pool, as well as interest new whole sellers and investors. 

I would also say it is important to keep up to date with the latest trends by looking at blog sites like 'Print and Pattern', magazines, newspapers, films, music, shops etc. It is not only informing you on what's the current 'flavour of the month' but could also give you new ideas for designs.

Finally 'perseverance' is a word you have to remember when embarking on a career in this industry. Nothing worth doing  is ever simple and easy. For every low point, however, there is a high, and nothing beats the feeling you get when you make your first sale!

Aubergine Fabric
(I bloody love aubergines!)

Wonderful stuff right?! Thanks so much to Harriet for chatting to me and for all the great tips she gave too. If this lady doesn't go far I will eat my hat!

Check out her website here!
and her facebook pagehere!

Hope everyone's had a great week!


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