I am delighted to be the official blogger for Home London this year, and as well as the confessions of a design geek bursary, I will be running a series of interviews with exhibitors from the Homegrown section. First up is surface pattern designer, illustrator and founder of Rachael Taylor Designs, Rachael Taylor.
What’s the most important thing to know about you?
My job is my hobby; I’m addicted to my designing and I don’t really see it as work. My work is completely spontaneous as I rarely follow trends and just design with how I feel – in fact I’m often described as being quite impulsive! It has been seen as quite controversial to design in this way but it works for me!
What’s your background? How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
I have always worked in the design industry; I was lucky enough to secure full time employment straight after graduation. I initially worked for a year as a print and design technician for a small textile company. Then I went to work for Hallmark, UK for two years; my role was as a ‘Mac designer’ and my specialism was surface pattern design.
The experience of working in-house was invaluable and the people were fantastic, but I always felt more of a number than an individual designer. I always had a niggling uneasy feeling, it sounds odd but I always knew I was meant to do something else. I just needed to figure out what that was. I always say my ‘inner doodle’ was set free once I decided to go it alone.
After freelancing for a while, as an unnamed artist, I dreamed of putting my own stamp on products and being able to add my name to collections sold in the marketplace. After lots of independent bespoke requests, I decided to launch a small product line in the UK, and soon I started receiving licensing requests as companies saw the potential that my individual collections had. I never thought I’d become an international brand, I just wanted to be recognised as an independent artist, but before I knew it I had built a design label. I think being true to myself and injecting my own personality into my work and website created a look that defined my signature style. It felt like an organic and laid back process rather than being contrived. It also allowed attracted the type of clientele I dreamed of working for.
I love the your strap line of “patterns to make you happy” How do you come up with happy patterns? What inspires you?
I have always designed organically and impulsively, most of the time I just play my music really loudly and draw. I try to let my work just happen and more often than not, it’s a happy accident. My patterns are applied to various products and my style seems to translate easily and adapts to various areas of the market. I try to only design when I’m in a good mood and I’m such an energetic person so I always try to always pour this into my work. I want my designs to evoke a feel good emotion and put a smile on someone’s face!
I’m inspired by spontaneous design: I’ve always really admired the work of artist Jackson Pollock, I love the energy his work brings. I’m also a fan of Alexander McQueen – I admire the risks he took with his work. I also love art and design from the 1950s and ’60s.
Once you’ve got an idea, how does the design and making process work – how do you translate initial inspiration into final products?
I tend to soak up inspiration around me and this seems to spontaneously translate into my drawings. I draw my designs in a quite traditional hand drawn process because this feels the more personal and less contrived. Then I work my designs up digitally using a Wacom graphics tablet. I love colour and tend to use bright colours in my designs.
We then use top quality printers who also manufacture my products outside of the studio. I sell the products on my brand new online store and to various stockists.
What’s the best part of your job?
Actually being able to draw for a living, it just feels like such a natural process to me. I am very lucky to be living my dream because I get to do what I love everyday! Seeing my designs on products sold around the world is pretty exciting and I really do have to pinch myself sometimes!
Describe a really good day in the life of Rachael Taylor and a really bad day.
A really good day would include free time to draw and design without an end use in mind – time to design without having to think about it.
A bad day would be drowning in emails and admin, which happens more often that I would like! I also hate working with numbers and having to calculate costs.
What are you most proud of?
At the moment I’m in a really good place, I really pushed myself this past year and the hard work really does pay off! I’m so thankful for all the exciting opportunities that I’ve had. I’m very lucky to have worked on some wonderful projects including the e-course that I launched with award winning entrepreneur Beth Nicholls at the end of 2011; ‘The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design’. It really has changed my life. I have been able to connect with creatives from all the around the world and it has been a great learning curve for me too. I feel truly blessed at the moment to be working on it, because it has been so rewarding. I’ve literally been in tears (happy tears!) and so overwhelmed by some of the feedback we have received. To know you have had a positive impact on someone’s life is such an honor and it is really mind-blowing!
It’s been going from strength to strength to such an extent that we recently launched a spin-off magazine ‘MOYO’ (the Japanese word for pattern), the world’s first online magazine dedicated to the wonderful world of surface pattern design. We work with a dream team of designers, get to feature our fabulous students and have had rave reviews for Issues 1 (August 2012) and 2 (November 2012), with over 110,000 readers so far!
What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?
To believe in yourself, and take that leap! I always think if you want something enough, you really can make it happen. I made a promise to myself to stay truly dedicated to my goal (and never, EVER give up!) I tried not to worry and think too much about the big picture, that way you are not so overwhelmed. Daily, weekly and monthly goals are realistic and manageable. I think if you don’t try something it will always niggle away at you so you might as well as just go for it! Remember to celebrate your achievements along the way no matter how big or small. When you’re having a bad day and things are not going to plan, it’s important to reflect and remind yourself how far you’ve come. Life really is short, so make the most of every opportunity you are given.
What are you most looking forward to about Home 2013?
Showcasing our brand new screen print and digital cushion designs as well as some gorgeous bespoke lampshades. These have never been seen before by anybody other than our team, so we’re really excited to see what everyone thinks!
We are also generally just excited to be at Home 2013 as it is such a prestigious show and we love being able to get out and about and meet other great designers.
And finally, favourite colour please!
Orange! My entire wardrobe consists of orange and I love to use it in my work.
Further reading for the especially geeky:
Thank you to navyblur for the photography in this post.
Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.
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