Our own Rachel Grant answers your questions about creating art for surface design. We asked the artist to select three questions pertaining to her art career. These are her fascinating answers.
Q. If you hadn’t become a professional artist, what kind of career do you think you would have chosen?
A. It’s really hard to imagine doing anything that is not within a creative field of some description. When I do it all gets a bit random. If it wasn’t for the night shifts and the overwhelming responsibility I’d say a midwife... or a doula. Then of course I do very much like the idea of having a little antique shop full of old books and ceramics, with a stand outside selling plants... and fresh pies... and freshly baked bread! Perhaps I would have been a farmer... if I wasn’t scared of animals?! I would also have liked a little shop selling Fair Isle jumpers on an island off the Scottish coast... but I don’t think I could handle all that bad weather. Overall it’s probably a good idea I took the path I did. I can take myself off to different worlds in paint every single day, without the commitment to stay there!
Q. Where do you find inspiration?
A. I spend a lot of time looking back for inspiration. I am obsessed with history, nostalgia, time-worn surfaces, patterns and ephemera. I love the way that the aesthetics of the past influence trends; and the way that those trends resurge in cycles is also fascinating. These kinds of interests lead me to antique shops, second-hand book stores, museums and anywhere where history comes alive. So here in the UK we have lots of stately homes, castles and other places of interest, like factories and mills that are open to the public and are full of inspiration. I also love to relax in front of films and TV dramas that mix historical reference with fiction, or even science fiction and fantasy. I love to see the way a director plays with colour and style to create exciting visual interplays between past/present/future. Wes Anderson’s colour palettes for example are absolutely divine and I spent the whole of the film “Brooklyn” geeking out about the way that John Crowley and his team had beautifully coordinated the knitwear with the wallpaper in each scene!
Q. Thinking back to art school, what’s something you learned in a classroom that you still use to this day?
A. I followed a very clear path into the arts from high school to a BTEC Art and Design foundation course at college, and then on to a Textile Design and Surface Pattern degree course at University. The most prominent and transferrable skill I learnt during those years was about layering and manipulating surfaces to create texture and depth. Since graduating I have worked on all kinds of different projects, from original art, site specific installations, collaborations with performing arts groups and architects, through to the illustration and licensing work that I do now. In one way or another all of the work I create has been underpinned by those first years of experimentation in mark-making and surface manipulation.