Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Interview with Designer/Illustrator, Charlotte Duffy

This month's e-interview is with Bristol-based Charlotte Duffy, designer/illustrator, who in her own words is, 'in love with flowers, beautiful birds, butterflies and fabulous colours. .'

My first question for Charlotte was:

1.When did you first realize you were an artist?
From when I was very little. I used art as a way of expressing myself, I drew and painted every day, and I was at my happiest when I was creating something. My mum set up a tiny little painting table for me when I was a toddler, and it was always there for me to paint whenever I liked, she never put it away and we would spend a lot of happy times there being creative together.

2. Did you enjoy/do well in art school?
.In school at A-level I remember being told I wasn’t allowed to choose only creative subjects (Art, Textiles and Drama) so I said I was leaving! They let me do them in the end!

3. Have you had formal art/design/illustration training?
Yes, GCSE in art and textiles, A-levels, then an amazing Foundation Art year which I would recommend to anyone, a few months of Fine Art, then three years of Textiles! I graduated with a First class honours in Textiles from Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2011.

4.What was the most important thing you learnt from it?
The most important thing I learnt at uni is to not be afraid to be yourself and do something different that makes you stand out from the crowd, even if it feels difficult at the time.

5. Which artists/designers/illustrators inspire you?
I’m inspired and amazed by so many its hard to pick just a few! I would say the bright textiles of Amy Butler and Designers Guild, the photography of Tim Walker, the delicate vintage style beauty of both Claire Coles and Libby McMullin design, and at the moment I’m loving the fantastic illustration of Johanna Basford.

6. What is your favourite medium?
I like to use watercolour, collage and pencil for my illustrations and cards, and for my pattern design I use a
combination of pen, ink, sometimes watercolour, collages of found textures, and Photoshop.

7. Do you enjoy the business side of things?
I don’t mind it too much, business and paperwork is such a huge part of being self-employed that I can’t escape it so I choose to enjoy it! Its good to be in control of your career and there is definitely a satisfaction in it. The side of it I find most tricky is maths, as that is by no means my strong point!

8. Have you had any training in the art business?
As I decided to set up on my own straight from graduating uni, I didn’t have the business knowledge I would have with years of experience. So I did the ‘Young Enterprise Programme’ at the Princes Trust, which is totally brilliant. They help young people under 30 begin their business venture, you learn what you didn’t learn at school about being self employed, get a business mentor, and funding if you need it. Taking ‘The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design’ E-Course has also been a fantastic way to train myself in the art business.

9. What is your biggest achievement- or the one that pleases you most so far?
I am very pleased to say my fabric designs are also available in the Middle East, in the form of beautiful luxury silk collections. I was lucky enough to win an amazing competition whilst I was still a student, which to took me Kuwait to work for the fabulous design label Zeri Crafts, and I designed their first signature collection of high-end tableware, cushions and shawls. The competition was to come up with a design for the company that reflects and echoes the traditional weaving culture of the Bedouins in the Kuwaiti desert. I came up with over 60 designs and colour ways for the competition, and subsequently the prize changed from having just one design printed, to me creating their whole signature collection and being asked to travel to Kuwait to work.

10. Do you work alone, and if so, do you enjoy it?
Yes I work alone, and I am lucky to have some lovely creative family and friends who always give me very good feedback and constructive criticism so I never feel too alone with my designing. I was finding working from home a little uninspiring and isolating, so I found a studio to go to work in everyday in a wonderful place in Bristol called 'Coexist'. It is a vibrant community of artists, musicians, therapists and like minded creative people all under one roof, and many thriving and exciting businesses are run from there so it’s a very inspiring place to have a studio.

11. Do you ever suffer from artists/creative block?
Yes I think everybody does at times, it happens to me when I stop designing for a few days. It takes me a while to get back into it and I can get a bit of a block, so I try and keep working till I push through it!

12. Are you still doing what you originally set out to do? 
Yes, my whole life I have wanted to design and create, and I haven’t given up on my dream, so yes I think I am. There is so much more I plan to do and I feel I am stepping in the right direction towards achieving it.

13. What are your plans for the future and do you have any special goals?
My plans and goals for the future are…

To develop my business further into bespoke furniture, using my surface patterns to reupholster beautiful vintage chairs and sell through my online shop. Whilst developing my signature designs into furniture, my goal is also to create artwork and patterns for wallpaper and other homewares, greetings and stationery through new licensing opportunities and commissions.

14. Where do you currently sell your work?
I sell my work through my own website, where I accept commissions for fabric and wallpaper design, bespoke chairs, and illustration work.

I also sell my designs through Image Source Creative Portfolio Licensing, who act as my agent, I have a large portfolio of illustration work represented by them.

If you would like to discover more about my work, make a purchase or to get in touch regarding licensing or 
commissions please visit my website:, 

Charlotte, I have thoroughly enjoyed your wonderful patterns and hearing about your exciting journey as an illustrator/designer. I'm sure our readers will join me in thanking you for a truly inspiring interview and in wishing you a bright future for your business. With your talent and your determination, I'm sure you'll go from strength to strength!


Jess said...

lovely interview. fab work , Im after one of those chairs ;)

Judy Adamson said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Jess :)

Those chairs are wonderful, aren't they!

Polly said...

Gosh! What beautiful designs! And such an inspiring interview!

I have some catching up to do here. You're such a dedicated blogger :)

Your illustration for the Welsh nursery rhyme is wonderful! Really love it.

Carole Barkett said...

You always interview such interesting people. Very beautiful work. I am a fan.

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Polly - thank you for stopping by and for your kind comments. I'm sure Charlotte will appreciate it and I'm glad you liked my goats illo!

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Carole - Charlotte's work is beautiful, isn't it! I'm sure she'll be glad to hear that you like it. said...

Such beautiful work! Wonderful interview :-)


Judy Adamson said...

Thank you, Crystal :)

natacha said...

Fantastic design, Charlotte, and excellent interview, Judy. Always a pleasure to discover stars among our Pattern Den...

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you for your comments, Natacha.

I'm sure there are lots more stars to be discovered . . . :)

gooseberrymoon said...

I love Charlotte's work, she's extremely talented. Great interview, very inspiring!

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you for your encouraging comments, Nicky!

Charlie D said...

Thank you so much for all your very lovely words :) much appreciated.. and of course thanks Judy for featuring me!

Judy Adamson said...

You're welcome, Charlotte :)

jane maday said...

What beautiful work!

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Jane - I thought you might like it. And I'm sure Charlotte will be pleased to hear that too. :)

Gillean Lazelle said...

Amazing work, love the colours, and birds are one of my favourite subjects

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Gillean - thank you for your comments. I agree, Charlotte's work is amazing!