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This season we set the students of Make it in Design a fun challenge - design a cushion based around the theme "Weird and Wonderful." We had some fantastic submissions, but finally managed to cut the shortlist down to 3 overall winners. This week, we interview winner Crissie Rodda to learn more about her gorgeous art style and what inspired her to take up design.
1) Tell us about yourself! Where are you from?
I'm from the North Island of New Zealand, where my husband and I live on a small block of land with our 3 lovely little girls and a cow called Phoebe. We recently built a new home on the land and are looking forward to the spring weather, so we can get stuck into lots of landscaping, fencing and deck building and really make the property our own.
2) How long have you been designing patterns?
I've been interested in visual arts for as long as I can remember. I studied media arts and photography at University and worked in graphic design and marketing for over 9 years, but I didn't discover surface pattern design until 2015. My middle daughter had just turned 1 and I was looking for a new creative outlet that would work with my young family. I fell in love instantly and couldn't quite believe that you could actually have a job making such happy beautiful things. My search to find out more about surface design lead me to the Make It In Design online school and I was lucky enough to win a free placement in their first module after becoming a runner up in their 2015 scholarship competition. I've recently completed modules 2 and 3 and hope to complete the final portfolio module next year.
3) What inspires you? Where do you go to get inspiration?
I'm sorry to sound cliche, but for me it really is the great outdoors. I love being outside and being surrounded by so many beautiful rivers, beaches and national parks in New Zealand, it's no surprise that a majority of my work is nature based. But I also find inspiration in the oddest everyday places. Like my favourite teapot, an old oven, my girls dress up jewellery or a funky piece of embroidery from a second hand shop. The possibilities for inspiration are everywhere and anywhere.
4) Which artists/pattern designers have influenced you?
Elizabeth Olwen, Lizzy House, Kim Kight, Lisa Congon and Zoe Ingram are some of my favourite pattern designers and illustrators. They definitely influenced me in the early days when I first discovered surface pattern design and they still inspire me today. I like to dream that one day my designs will be loved as much theirs are. It really is inspiring to see people being successful and so happy doing something that they love.
5) Do you have any advice that you'd like to pass on to start-out designers?
Don't rush things. Take your time to discover what you love and what you're good at. The more true you are to yourself, the stronger and more unique your art will be. I've been designing patterns for nearly 3 years now and I only really found my own artistic voice earlier this year. I'd also recommend getting connected. There is so much information, advice and resources out there to help you find your way; and the people that you meet along the way will do wonders to guide you, encourage you and champion you.
6) What was the process of coming up with your winning design? How did you develop the idea?
My designs for the competition came about quite organically, with one idea leading onto another. When I learnt that the theme was weird and wonderful I immediately knew that I wanted to celebrate the unique New Zealand flora and fauna, so I headed to a nearby native forest for some inspiration. I loved the shapes, lines and textures that I found and decided that simplicity, line and form would be the main focus for my patterns. I was also really inspired by some current design trends of pressed botanicals and distinctive shapes.
7) In a dream world, what would you be designing? Where would you love to see your patterns?
Fabric I think will always be my first love when it comes to surface pattern design. I'm crazy in love with creating collections and telling stories, so it would be a dream come true to create collections for my favourite fabric companies and then see them come to life at the hands of some seriously talented quilters and sewers. I created some custom patterns for a New Zealand clothing label last year and it was the best creative job I've ever had. It was so much fun to collaborate with the company and really exciting to see my patterns walking down the street and in playgrounds.
If you would like to purchase some of Crissie's gorgeous cushion designs, you can buy them through our Make It In Design page.
Or why not take a look at her full range of works on Crissie's website