Wednesday, 8 May 2013

e-Interview with Laura Escalante, Surface Pattern Designer/Illustrator from Columbia

This month I'm grateful to Laura Escalante, a Surface Pattern Designer from Bogotá, Colombia, for giving us her time to answer some questions about her life as a designer.

Laura on Twitter: 
Laura on Facebook
Laura on Behance

I asked Laura: When did you first realize that you were an artist?
Since I was little I loved to draw and paint, especially with colored pencils. My parents always gave me for Christmas and for my birthday art supplies, boxes full of crayons, colored pencils, pastels and watercolors. Later on, as I grew up, I took painting classes and then I specialized in art during high school.

Laura, I'm always interested to know whether an artist has had formal art/design/illustration training?
Yes, I have an undergraduate degree in Product and Visual Communication Design from la Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

That sounds fascinating! And what do you think was the most important thing you learnt from it?
The most important thing I learned at college is that you have to work, work and work to achieve your personal and professional goals, thus dedication, effort and persistence are the way to do so.

Apart from at University, what is the most important thing you have learnt on your journey as an artist and from whom did you learnt it? 
I have learned incredible things from all my colleagues who have graduated from the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design. I learned that although we all work in the same environment and have similar goals and aspirations, there is enough room in the world of design for all of us and that it is a great satisfaction to help others achieve their dream. In other words, even though people always pursue individual goals, there is a great sense of collaboration amongst designers.

Which artists/designers/illustrators inspire you?
I am inspired and amazed by a lot of things in my everyday life, such as packaging designs, stationery, giftwraps, colorful scarves, prints, wallpapers, swimwear fabrics, tableware and kitchen textiles. But I really love the beautiful and detailed work of two Colombian designers, Ximena Escobar and Wallnut Studio by Cristina Londoño.  I am also fascinated by Tara Donovan's unique installations, Vera Bradley´s colorful patterns, lovely floral and organic designs by Claire Coles, Marcel Wander’s amazing delicate interior design products and Tim Walker´s magical and enchanted photographs.

What is your favorite medium, Laura?
I love colored pencils, but for my pattern designs I use ink as my primary medium for my motif drawings. Then I scan them and use a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator techniques for the final details.

How long has your business been up and running?
My business is just starting. I recently graduated from the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design, so I am taking time to build my portfolio, webpage and business stationery in order to get my business up and running.

Are there any particular pitfalls that have caused difficulties for your business that you would like to warn others about?
I haven’t had a particular pitfall in my business but I had one as a designer that I would love to share with all of you. I am 25 years old and have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome on both of my hands. I know it sounds weird that I have it on both of them, but since I started feeling pain in my right hand, I switched to my left hand and both were affected; thus I had to quit my fulltime job. My advice to all of you out there: take good care of your hands, take small 5 to 10 minute breaks every hour or so and stretch your hands, and use a design tablet instead of the regular mouse. Most of us are so fascinated by what we do that one might get carried away thus time flies by and our hands are being slowly injured and overused.

Thank you for that great advice, Laura - and I'm sorry to hear about your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome!

Do you enjoy the business side of things?
As I am just starting my business I haven’t experienced the business side of things so much, but what I least like about selling my products and designs is giving them a price. I am afraid that if I charge too much they won’t be bought, but if I their price is to low I am afraid I might be underestimating my work. I find it a tough job, but I know that is something that I will learn in my journey as a self-employed designer.

Yes, that is tricky - you don't want to charge too little because customers do tend to think that the higher the price, the better the product! But on the other hand, we don't want to price ourselves out of the market! Have you had any training in the art business?
No, not really, but fortunately my father has his own business and has helped me in the business side of things.

Why did you decide to specialize in Surface Pattern Design?
I decided to specialize in Surface Pattern Design because, since I was little, I have loved colorful patterns. I can say I am obsessed in a certain way with colors and patterns. Everywhere I go I find amazing details that most people would never notice.

So I decided not to be a spectator in this beautiful world made up of colors, details, patterns and illustrations, instead I decided to dedicate myself to what I love and contribute to this amazing world.

Are you working alone or do you have help?
Yes, I work alone.

How do you feel about that?
I really enjoy working alone; It is much easier for me to concentrate and to be inspired in a quiet and calm space at home. I also love managing my own time and organizing my day as I feel it is the best way to get all things done. When I have some kind of creative block or feel I need some feedback I ask for my family´s opinion, I find their opinion very valuable since none of them are in the artist environment I love to know what someone out of the artistic scenario thinks about my work and listen to their thoughts and ideas.

Do you have regular contact with other artists?
In my daily life I am not surrounded by many artists, since most of my family members and friends are not in an artistic environment. But I have the good fortune to be part of two online groups of pattern designers and illustrators who have been a great inspiration and support since I started my journey. All the help, advice and feedback I have received from all of these wonderful ladies amaze me.

Do you paint/draw regularly?
I currently draw almost every day, since drawing is essential for my designs.

Laura, are you still doing what you originally set out to do?
Yes, I have always dreamed of designing and being immersed in an artistic creative job and that is what I am actually doing.

What is your biggest achievement – or the one that pleases you most – so far? 
I believe my biggest achievement is designing what I always dreamed of and seeing how my portfolio is becoming stronger and bigger in the design industry I love. Another great achievement was being shortlisted as one of the Top 5 Finalists of the Ideal Home Show Wallpaper design contest of 2013 held in company of and Laurence Llewellyn Bowen, who chose my design to be in the top 5. It was a great boost of confidence and satisfaction seeing one of my first pattern designs being in the top five designs of an international contest, and I was so happy to see my work reaching places that I had never imagined I was going to be capable of. That's wonderful, Laura, and well-deserved!

Do you have a favorite quote, art-related or otherwise?
I love this quote from Andy Warhol ¨ they always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.¨ I think life is too short and you are the only one who is able to change it and do what you wish for. I believe that our biggest obstacle in achieving what we want is ourselves.
I'm sure you're right, Laura, and it takes some of us a lifetime to realise that.

Finally, what are your plans for the future?
I would like to have my own design collection of room decorations for babies and children. I am focusing my pattern designs and artwork into the wallpaper, stationery and homeware textile industry. I plan to design the whole brand image of special clients, who need business stationery, packaging, wallpapers, giftwraps, and other products to create a great image.

I'm sure we all wish you the very best of luck with that, Laura. I love your work and I'm sure that others will too!

Laura, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

I feel sure your replies will interest and inspire others who, maybe, are wondering whether to pursue the career of their dreams.

Thank you! 


Liz Minton said...

Lovely work by Laura. Great to see her featured.

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you for your comment, Liz - I agree wholeheartedly!