Friday, 1 November 2013

Caren Barry

It's Follow Friday!

Caren Barry is a surface pattern designer and illustrator with a passion for hand-drawn design. Caren creates traditional yet contemporary patterns for paper goods which you can buy online from Folksy and Etsy.

Caren has launched her first Kickstarter project with a collection of eco-friendly patterned notepads which you can help bring to life by giving as little as a £1.

You can find Caren on Facebook, Twitter @carenbarry and instagram. Caren also has a blog featuring inspiration, what she gets up to and her design processes.

Have you always wanted to be a designer?

I have always been a very creative individual, having studied art throughout school. During university I specialised my skills and developed a passion for creating hand-drawn patterns. For my final year exhibition I designed a collection of printed wallpapers and furnishing fabrics - I even reupholstered a vintage chair. I loved the entire design process from creating an illustration in my sketchbook, to seeing it printed, to then applying it onto a usable product myself. That really became the starting point for my love of illustration and surface pattern design and when I graduated from university I left with the knowledge that I wanted to work as a freelance designer.

How have you got to where you are now?

I launched my career as a freelance surface pattern designer in April this year, and released my debut collection of patterned greeting cards, note cards and art prints in September which are now available online through Etsy and Folksy. As my first collection of finished products I couldn't be more pleased with the results and I'm beyond happy that everything is finally beginning to fall into place! It’s all still a very new and exciting time for me - and a lot of hard work, but I’m definitely looking forward to my first year as a freelancer!

What's the next step for you & your designs?

For the next couple weeks I'm going to be busy preparing for my first season of Craft Fairs before Christmas while also continuing to develop my product range with a collection of cushions and accessories. In fact, I've just launched my first Kickstarter project to help develop a range of eco-friendly patterned notebooks, all featuring my original floral designs. I’m so excited about this project to hopefully they will be available to sell in time for Christmas!

What inspires you?

Flowers have always been a huge love of mine, so they do tend to influence a large amount of my designs. I also find inspiration a lot of the time simply by observing my surroundings and nature. I love nature and recent trips to Anglesey Abbey and the Botanical Gardens in Cambridge accompanied by my trusty camera, inspired a lot of my new designs.

What motivates you?

It’s been three years since I graduated and I feel so lucky to finally be able to focus all of my attention on my dream career. My passion for design and my creative work is definitely the biggest motivation for me.

How do you start a new project/design?

I usually begin a design by creating a motif in my sketchbook using fine-liner pens, which I then rework into a pattern repeat with colour, either by hand or using Photoshop and Illustrator. My designs always centre around my drawings and paintings - so being able to combine the use of both traditional artistry with digital technology to create my pattern designs allows me to make as many things as I possibly can that beautifully translate my hand-illustrations into a usable product.

What do you enjoy most about being a designer?

I enjoy having the freedom to be creative and to ‘create’ a career from my passion for design is really exciting. My creations are part of my personality and I love being able to design a finished product like a cushion, wallpaper, or even a greeting card from my own original illustrations. When people buy my products and compliment the designs, it makes my hard work all the more fulfilling.

Do you have a favourite design that you have created?

It’s not easy to choose a favourite design because they’re all such a labour of love to me. I spent a lot of time drawing and experimenting with colour and compositions for my collection of ‘Spring Blossom’ designs, now they’re finished I’m really happy with the finished patterns and I think that they’re some of the strongest designs I’ve created so far.

What is your typical day like?

My days recently have varied depending on what needs prioritising. But in general I like to spend at least two days focused on drawing and illustrating. A typical day for me varies from completing product photography, sourcing textiles for my new collection of cushions and accessories, to organising my finances and responding to emails. It’s all a huge learning curve and I’m finding out just how many different roles you need to take on when you’re a self-employed designer.

What mediums do you like to use?

I have a hand-drawn style that I use to create intricate illustrations and delicately decorated patterns, so I always begin a design using fine-liner pens. I then rework my illustrations using Photoshop and Illustrator. I've recently rekindled my love of painting with watercolours and inks - I'm still experimenting as it's much more unpredictable to work with than my trusty fine-liner pens! I always try to keep colour simplicity and softness within my finished designs.

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

I’d love to own my own shop and studio. Hopefully I’ll be creating two full collections a year from my own studio space - which I hope to be able to build/design myself! I also want to design a range of fabric bolts for furnishing fabrics and I’d love to have a homewares line released with a well known retailer.

Do you have a favourite designer?

There are lots of designers that I admire. I love the work of Oana Befort and Kelli Murray who are both illustrators and graphic designers who predominantly use watercolours to create truly lovely artworks. I also recently discovered the beautiful stationery and gift brand of Rifle Paper Co. - Anna Bond is the creative designer behind the brand, her designs are just stunning, a firm favourite.

Favourite blog?

I find blogs really inspiring, especially when I’m having days where all my creativity and motivation seems to disappear! I have a so many great blogs bookmarked on my computer, but my favourite three definitely have to be DESIGNLOVEFEST, Breanna Rose and SF Girl By Bay. They’re all beautiful design focused blogs that feature a lot of new product reviews, art, photography, interior styling, design resources, as well as lifestyle stories - plus some great advice for freelancers! I definitely recommend these blogs, if like me you’re a complete design junkie!

Favourite design book?

I have a huge collection of craft and design books, with many more still on my wish-list! It’s difficult to pick out a favourite design book, although I do favour my pattern sourcebooks, especially the Print & Pattern books by Bowie Style. Michael Perry has a great series of books on hand-drawn patterns, type and screen printing. I’ll always refer to them when I’m struggling with colour choices and composition.

Thank you for your time Caren, I really appreciate it. 

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