One of our intrepid Surtex reporters, Alanna Cavanagh spoke with Lilla about the many facets to her creativity.
Alanna: Lilla you run a thriving illustration agency, work yourself as an artist and have recently launched Ruby Violet. How do you possibly do it all?
Lilla: Well...actually I've just finished writing a book for Quarry/Rockport that will reveal many of the ways I have done it! It's called "I Just Like to Make Things: How to Have Fun, Stay Inspired and be Successful as an Artist" and it's due out February 2013. It contains lots of great photos and interviews and has a ton of advice on how to make a living with your art.
A: Wow I can't wait for it to come out - and I'm sure many UPPERCASE readers feel the same way. The "stay inspired" bit from your title strikes me right away because in our 24/7 plugged in world of blogs and Pinterest I find many artists suffer from a bombardment of images which can really dull their creativity. How do you advise artists to stay inspired?
L: You have to fill the cup up but not to overflowing. There needs to be a continual process of taking in and then giving out. If you take in too much and don't produce you'll feel saturated. On the other hand if you just give out (produce art) but don't take the time to look around and see what's going on...your work will get stale. It's a matter of balance.
A: Your artists' work always looks so fresh and 'on trend'. Do you do anything to help them achieve this?
L: Each season I send all my artists a trend report which is filled with what I see are the emerging images, colour ways etc. For example last Christmas the report contained vintage ornaments and deer!
A: In an earlier interview for UPPERCASE you explained that in the 1980s you felt that the best energy and interesting illustration work was happening in magazines but now you feel it's in surface design. Do you still feel this way?
L: Absolutely! Surface design is positively exploding right now. There are so many areas within it. For example home decor, apparel, and fabric. All of them are expanding. This is our 6th year doing the Surtex show and it just keeps getting better.
A: What advice would you give an artist who is hoping to break into surface design?
L: Read as much as you can on the topic. Keep up with what's going on in the marketplace and stay current with technology. Come to Surtex and walk the show the first year to decide if it's for you. Make up as many pattern designs as you can and if doing a show figure out a way to present them nicely. Remember that you can often create many new patterns by simply altering the images and colours of an existing pattern. In general I would like to say to illustrators and agents that no industry stays the same forever. It is bound to change and those that embrace the change and remain positive will do fine!
A: Such great advice Lilla. In addition to your book and more Ruby Violet designs what can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
L: In 2013 I hope to launch an online course on making a living with your art. I just love to teach and help artists learn how to make pieces that sell. Keep your eyes peeled for it!
A: We will Lilla. Thanks so much for your generous insights.