Friday, 18 January 2013

Claire Smillie

It's Follow Friday!

Claire Smillie is a textile and surface pattern designer based in Somerset, UKClaire has been passionate with art from a very young age whether it's photography, scrapbooking, mixed media, watercolors, surface design, the list is endless.  Claire is currently working towards a degree in design at Plymouth University but has already started getting herself and her work out into the textile industry. 

Claire's designs bring diversity, texture and individualityEach design is created differently starting with hand-drawn imagery, collage and mark-making which are then manipulated digitally.  Each design has a strong colour palette which is nice to see, as sometimes creating colour palettes can be difficult particularly with bold colours. 

You can stay updated with Claire on Facebook and follow her on twitter @claire_smillie. You may like to visit Claire's blog with lovely daily reads.  Claire is also available for freelancing, commission and licensing contracts. Enjoy. 


Have you always wanted to design?

I loved textiles and the creative arts at school, but I always had a pre-conceived idea that because I wasn't the best at drawing/painting an object perfectly, that I would be unsuccessful within the art world. In college, I studied a BTEC in Performing Arts, which covered all aspects including set design, costume design, lighting design and performance...I loved this course especially the designing...but then after college I somehow found a job in a bank...which was so not me! Out of hours, I would spend hours and hours at home crafting and creating things, finally after five years, the creative world was calling again and I broke away from the bank to develop 'Creative Moments' with my mother, which was a retail shop specialising in Paper craft and Jewellery Making supplies. I was absolutely in love with all the gorgeous pretty papers and beautiful embellishments we sold and part of the plan, was to create our own line of products....part of which i had been looking to design and was this that led me back into the full swing of designing. 

How have you got to where you are now?

I have taking so many workshops and lessons with various artists/crafters and I am so lucky to have been inspired by so many, of whom have helped to develop my style. When the lease expired on our premises for Creative Moments, I was lucky enough to be accepted onto a degree course with BA Honors in Design (Plymouth University) on the backing of my Portfolio. This was a fantastic opportunity and I was over the moon as I was adamant they'd say I wasn't ready and to go back to night school to get some further education in Art & Design before approaching them again! From the moment I stepped into the University on the first day, I felt like I'd found my calling and this was where I was home...

What inspires you?

I am constantly finding inspiration everywhere! I absolutely love, love, love blogs and probably spend far too much of my time browsing them and looking at Pinterest, but the ideas are all so fabulous. More and more though, I am really finding myself seeking inspiration from 'off' the computer....I can think of nothing more perfect that a spontaneous weekend trip to a place unknown, just wandering around, soaking up the atmosphere and capturing the scene. Even more perfect would be if we stumbled across a 'Waterstones' too! I am so, so bad for art/design/fashion led books...I love just flicking through them, 'feeling' the pages...books really 'feed' my sole and I probably enjoy the luxury of a printed book much more than that of the computer screen. Magazines are always great for a quick hit too....Mollie Makes, Elle, In style, Vogue....all great reads

What motivates you?

Been inspired. If I am not feeling it...then it just isn't going to happen! If I am working on an idea, then it will be because I LOVE that idea and I will put all my energy into it and really get behind it. I will sleep, eat and dream the project, but if I'm not feeling it, then it's not working and I need to find a way to make it inspire me and motivate me to create, because that is when I get my best work...when it comes truly from somewhere inside of me.

What do you enjoy most about designing?

Definitely the 'process'. I love the beginning stages, the research, the creating, the freedom, the sketching, the mark making...filling my sketchbook and watching it become alive with its own uniqueness. I enjoy pushing the boundaries, experimenting with new ideas and playing with new techniques. I love at this stage that there are no rules and you can just let it all out, page after page, not worrying about getting finished polished designs but just getting your ideas down onto the page.

Do you have a favourite design that you have created?

That's hard as I am a little flippant and my favorite usually changes according to my latest project, as that always becomes the new love of my life! Saying that though, I really love my Deer Design from 'Woodland Dreams' as the colors just look so yummy and I was so pleased how the design came together. I also love the repeat flowers in that collection as I had this printed onto fabric with Disperse dyes and my, the printed fabric looks so wonderful....perfect for an evening dress. From my last project I really love the collage design with the black background, the bark of the tree has so much texture and I love the two people...the original design was very much inspired by Artist David Hockney.

Do you have any of your illustrations on products?

Too right I do! I am so lucky to be able to sell some of my designs through Society 6, Red Bubble and Envelop. These products range from cushions to phone cases, prints and more.

What is your typical day like?

Now that is probably the hardest question so far! Our days are just so choka. I have two children (Obie; 5 and Roxie who will be two in a few weeks) and we are forever running here, there and everywhere! My uni days are typically a Monday, Tuesday and Friday so on these days I will usually leave at 7:30am to travel to the Uni, where our day is split into two sessions and we will typically have either lectures, seminars or workshops based on an aspect of design, such as drawing, color, screen-printing, fabric dying etc I usually leave the Uni to get home somewhere between 6pm and 6:30pm. It's then a little family time and tea before bed. On Non-Uni days, I work each day except a Sunday, so my designing is often done of an evening/very early morning when my children are in bed. There are usually plenty of late nights and early starts to get everything done in time!

What do you hope that 2013 will bring for you?

Lots & lots of designing and getting my designs 'out there' into the big wide world! 'Together' is my word for 2013...which is important for both my family and the design community I am so lucky to be part of. I think, each and every one of us are so much stronger when we are part of a team and we can bounce off each other and have the support of people who 'understand'! I would love to travel a little, even just to one far away place this year.... but both time and money will see if this is realistic.

Do you get a lot of support from family and friends?

My biggest supporter is Leon (my husband). No doubt about it. He was the one that encouraged me from the start, the one that was adamant I needed to take this design 'obsession' further. He's the one, that 'understands' and listens and nods his head in the right places. The design community I am part of are great...they too 'get it' and are a great source of support and encouragement.

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time?

Five years, my boy will be ten and my little girl nearly seven. I would love to have established myself as a successful designer in my own right by then. When I say successful, I gauge that by been able to support my family with the money I earn from my design career. I will always design...I love is the essence of what I do...right now, I would just love a collaboration with TopShop and Paperchase! I would love to be at the heart of the design world and want to share my obsession with the trend forecasting/journalism/education are other things on my list I would love to get out there and do!

Do you have a favourite designer?

Oooh now maybe this is the hardest question! There are so many designers I admire, although more recently i have to admit they have been a little fashion orientated. One that I continually come back to though is Rob Ryan...I really love the cut out work he creates

Favourite blog?

Has to be a big shout out to the Print & Pattern Blog.

Favourite design book?
'Cutting Edges: Contemporary Collage' by Robert Klanten, Hendrik Hellige and J. Gallagher (31 Jan 2011).  I got this for Xmas and the work in here is just so fabulous...a rather indulgent book, but oh so worth it!

Thank you for your time Claire, I really appreciate it.  If you'd like a feature on this blog, please email me:


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