A few years ago I stumbled across the work of Laura Blythman. Her work is so beautiful and fun, it’s no wonder why it is so popular. A little while back, I sent a few questions to Laura, and was thrilled when she replied in such depth!
When did you become interested in design?
For as long as I can remember I have always been a ‘creative type’ with many different creative outlets. Though, only after high school did I realise that graphic design was the path for me. I went to a very sports focused high school so the possibilities of what I could do were a bit of a mystery until I took a wild guess and began an applied design course after I graduated.
From what you remember, what was the first thing you designed?
I remember doing (really bad) illustrations for my primary school calendar; I can’t remember how old I was. I also clearly remember loving to cut and paste when I was really little. I remember being obsessed with the sound of scissors cutting paper and also soaking colourful kinder squares in paste. Oh, and I remember writing almost everything in bubble letters! Such fun!
What was your first design job?
My first design job was at Hallmark Cards Australia. I found out about the position at the last minute and was given the job on the day of my interview.
It was such a great learning experience and it really cemented my love for designing paper products and pattern. I still feel really grateful to my boss. I was such a Newbie and had SO, SO much to learn in every aspect of the job. It was like learning a whole new language, really daunting and overwhelming, but so rewarding and such a great challenge. After a few years there though, designing cards and wrapping paper for the mass market was almost like second nature and the challenge just wasn’t there. I really gained a lot of confidence in my own abilities and honed my own personal style, and after 3 years I was well ready to test myself and move on to a new company and new style of design and expand my creative repertoire.
What is your favourite design tool?
At the moment I am loving creating hand text with pencil and paper. But Adobe Illustrator and my huge wacom tablet are my best friends.
Who inspires you? Why?
Oooh, I have so many favourite artists / designers / bloggers / makers / crafters. I also have some really amazingly creative friends, stylists, writers, photographers, designers, they inspire me more than anything. But to name a few:
Beci Orpin, Timba Smits, Jessica Hische, Darling Clementine, Rob Ryan, Ray Fenwick and Kareena Zerefos.
You most recently worked at Typo… what are you up to now?
I am actually on leave from Typo because I had a baby last year! So right now I am freelancing, designing a lot of gorgeous children’s products as well as a few jobs here and there for T2 Teas and other businesses. Once the little man is a bit bigger I will probably take on much more freelance work as well as start work on my own top secret totally self indulgent projects!
How did you get the job at Typo?
I had decided to give freelancing a break and spend a little time again as a in-house designer PLUS I was also blown away by this new store Typo, and felt I just had to be a part if it. So I just sent an email and a sample of my portfolio through to the Studio Manager. It turned out my timing was perfect and they had just begun the hunt for a Senior Designer. After not too long I got the job after presenting my folio and having an amazing brainstorming session with the Studio manager and Brand manager about where I saw the brand heading in the future. I was just bursting with ways to improve and expand on their offering and style. I am pretty proud to admit that sales more than doubled since I began there.
How many people do you work with?
The team was relatively small. I was the Senior Designer for Typo and after a little while we also gained a fantastic Junior Designer. Because of my past experience and the fact that Typo is owned by Cotton On I was also responsible for designing the yardages / patterns for apparel in all of the Cotton On brands. It was great fun, I especially enjoyed designing cute patterns for girlswear. The workload was mammoth though!
What were the challenges in this job?
Well challenges at Typo were generally based around the huge workload and balancing my time between my much loved Typo product as well as managing the Yardage library or patterns. Challenges for me now as a freelancer are balancing my days between work for my clients and also looking after Alexander Eddy. My bub.
When you are stuck for ideas what helps you?
If I am stuck for ideas I give myself a change of scenery, I look at things on the web, flick through books and magazines, go out and do some market / retail research. These are all things that I enjoy doing and do constantly anyway. Or I just start playing with colour palettes. 9 times out of 10 I will begin a project with the colour palette, it just always feel like a natural way to begin a project.
What is your favourite thing to design?
I love creating complete ranges that encompass all things. At Typo the ranges were huge and spanned across Décor, Stationery and Greeting’s . I would brainstorm a theme for the range with the product team and then I would put together inspiration / theme boards to present to them to make sure we were all on the same page with how we envisioned the range to look. Always keeping in mind who the end customer was.
Blythman has become an acclaimed graphic designer in the past few years. Her style has become widely popular due to the expansion and popularity of Typo around the world, who have really jumped on and praised Blythman’s unique style. Nowadays, you will see Blythman doing some smaller projects of her own, as well as some work for Typo still, and other well-known brands. I’m sure you will begin to see her style around, if not her actual work!
You can explore the wonderful work of Laura Blythman at her website here.
This has got to be one of the first artist in a while that has really made me say WOW!
Born in Malaysia, of Chinese decent, Red, who gets her nickname from her last name, Hong, sounding like the word ‘red’ in Malay, is a young, very talented artist-architect. After being born and raised in Sabah, with only a faint idea about her cultural heritage and the Cultural Revolution from which her grandparents fled, Red now lives back in Shanghai, learning, experiencing and appreciating the culture, history, and people of the city. Her work began with creating portraits of iconic Chinese figures using everyday materials, and she has since mastered her technique, creating portraits and images of many figures out of and using everyday and unusual materials such as food, flowers, coffee and candles. Her pieces are highly representative and symbolic and often have strong themes that reflect what she believes in and holds close to her.
Perhaps one of her most famous pieces is a portrait of Jay Chou, created by spilling coffee and pressing coffee stains from a cup into the paper.
On her blog, Red posts about the piece saying, “The past two weeks have been really exciting for me - I was commissioned by Nespresso through Connexia to do a coffee cup stain portrait of the beloved Italian singer Lucio Dalla on site in Milan. Lucio passed away in March this year while on concert in Switzerland and his funeral was attended by 50,000 people… [At the reveal] Some even had tears in their eyes. They told me in this portrait, it was his eyes that really spoke to them - they said he always had ‘that look’. They also mentioned that he was an avid art fan and collector, and would have appreciated this piece.”
Her other work is well worth mentioning and checking out as well. She has many inventive, astonishingly different pieces, but here are my favourites. You can watch Red creating these in the time-lapse videos she has put together.
- 1 HP ink advantage cartridge - 1 HP printer - 1500 Sheets of paper - A few feathers
The piece is of “a giant dove that looks like it is flying out from the printer, to inspire everyone to let their creativity soar, especially in situations that seem impossible or too hard. I’ve done the dove, a bird signifying peace, with eyes of an eagle that shows tenacity and power, to show that while people may look demure and ordinary, they can also be strong and dynamic.”
As part of a 4 part project based on the 4 elements: fire, water, wind and earth, Red has represented fire with this portrait of Adele. “Her song ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ inspired me to use candles and fire as my painting materials…but why? To me, Adele was probably singing about the pain of a lost relationship. Rain may be a metaphor for her tears she cried, and she is setting fire to it to burn and destroy her pain. I’ve used blue candles to represent tears, and by setting fire to them, they melt and flow into each other - “Watched it pour as I touched your face…” - and they form a portrait of Adele.”
"I had the opportunity to work with my friend and amazing singer/songwriter Gerald Ko - who is also the first Youtube singer I started listening to! We discussed how a singer and an artist could collaborate, brainstormed through the story across oceans - him in LA, me in Shanghai (isn’t the internet amazing?!), and we put this video together when I was in California last month for the EG conference."
Using 36 ‘Game of Thrones’ books, Red gave a literal meaning to the term ‘facebook’. ìI was in the States last month for the EG Conference and wanted to do a portrait of an iconic American… I decided on Mark Zuckerberg and I thought I’d use BOOKS for his portrait, to play around with the words, ‘face book’! LOL. was that PUNNY or what?!”
This project is a perfect example of the influence of the culture Red surrounds herself by in Shanghai. Red comments, “When I first moved to Shanghai, I stumbled upon an old residential alleyway and saw bamboo sticks poking out of windows with laundry hanging onto them, waving in the airÖ I thought Zhang Yimou’s portrait done in a Shanghainese laneway, with bamboo and laundry would be perfect for this project.”
I believe this is one of the most touching, beautiful pieces Red has created. Using 2000 white carnations and 5 kilos of red dye, she has produced this wonderful portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi. She explains, “Red [the colour] represents love, passion, sacrifice and blood. This is the first time I’m using live objects - flowers - for my project…flowers, like humans, eventually die. This piece celebrates this little time we have here on earth called life.”
All material has been sourced from these sites.