Monday, June 17, 2013

SPD RedCarpet // Jennie Whitham

Good morning everyone!

I hope you've enjoyed your weekend and had some time to check the great pattern pin hop that took place this weekend with over 50 designers' (including me) work. :) You can see my collection here.

Now, let's start with Monday's SPD RedCarpet, the series dedicated to surface pattern designers and their work. Today's guest is British designer Jennie Whitham (remember her? she's the fab designer that created June's beautiful freebie Designer Calendar).

Hi Jennie, tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Jennie Whitham and I am the name and face behind JLW Illustration. I began my creative journey into Surface Pattern as a fresh faced Graduate from Leeds Art College in 2010. Having spent a year out of designing to enjoy the newest addition to the family (my son Alexander), I decided it was time to get back to what I enjoy the most, making patterns. I entered competitions and that helped build my confidence and portfolio. I came across The Art and Business of Surface Pattern in early 2012 and enrolled to begin the April of that year. It was this that gave me the push to begin selling my designs on products, and approach business' with my designs. Before the course finished I submitted some designs to be featured on world renowned Print and Pattern blog. As a result of being featured I was approached and signed up with an agency and began designing freelance. A year on from taking the course, I now have 2 licensed contracts for several of my designs, designs soon to be published in the up-coming Patternbase book and my own successful Etsy store selling my designs on products.
What is it that you like about patterns? Which one is your favorite pattern style?
I love symmetry, everything is made from shapes after all. The simplicity that comes with creating patterns from basic shapes, and yet they can become the most complex of designs at times. I'm not sure I have a favourite pattern 'style', I like to work with half-drop repeats, and have a small obsession with basic repeats but I think that is the extent of it.

How would you describe your style?
A combination of simple geometrics and funky florals. I like to combine the two, and have begun to dabble in character designs, although I am a long way off perfecting my style with that particular theme.
Where do you find inspiration? Do you follow trends?
I try to follow trends, but its so hard and I find places like Pinterest are a godsend. I like to think I'm inspired by my fellow designer friends, there are so many styles that I have yet to try, and I love seeing the variety of design styles that everyone brings to the table, but I am now aware of my own distinct design style thanks to the e-course I took last year and enjoy the way I work.
What color palettes do you prefer?
The brighter the better. I love a good vibrant palette to bring my designs to life. I have had to work with some toned down and pastel palettes recently and found it harder to work with the colours. All a learning curve I assume and it didn't detract from the designs.
When you design, do you do it thinking of a final product? Which market would you like your designs to be on?

Not particularly. I like to think I design more for the paper-based market (think Paperchase). But have often found that my designs work well throughout interiors and sometimes fashion. When I design for 'me', I just go with the flow and see where I end up. When designing for my agent I have to bare in mind the final products (home-ware based), and competitions vary from fabrics to greeting cards, so for those instances I do have to think of final product.

Which Design tool can't you leave without?
My wacom tablet. Although it stays at home beside my desk, if it were ever to break or disappear I honestly wouldn't know how to draw with a mouse. Recently, my bamboo pen broke and needed replacing. Those 2 weeks were a no-go for designing. I downed tools and waited for my new pen to arrive as I couldn't contemplate using a computer mouse, or even a pen and paper to work with.
What has been your greatest achievement so far? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
My greatest achievement so far has to be my little family. But design wise, I'd say the last 12 months have been a rollercoaster ride. I began a blog, have over 15 online features, had work selected for publishing, gained an agent, two licensing contracts and a lot of rejections. But those knock-backs are there for a reason, because bigger and better things are meant for me, so I'm okay with that. 
I'd like to think 5 years would bring me my own studio (from home, elsewhere, I don't mind), a steady income (wishful thinking) and a label that I am proud to put my name on.
What's your favourite patterned possession? Why?

My Rachael Taylor tea towel hangs Pride of place in my dining room. It was the first 'designer' product I ever bought and it was so beautifully wrapped and came with postcards and a thank you from Rachael. I have admired her for years before I took the course, so it is nice to have a little piece of her work beside my own creative products.

Who is your favorite surface pattern designer? Why?
It really is Rachael Taylor, she was a constant source of inspiration from being at university and I think because we live in the same city, she proves that it doesn't matter whether we live in London, Milan or a small village, you can be a success wherever you are.
Where can we find more of your work and products?
I can be found on my website/blog, facebook page, and twitter. You can contact me via email and buy my products on my Etsy shop.

I hope you've enjoyed getting to know Jennie a bit better. Don't forget to check the other places you can find her (above!) :D to see more gorgeous patterns!

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