Lucy Smith is a third year Textiles In Practice student at the Manchester School of Art.
Last week I visited her in her studio space where she talked me through some of her more recent projects for this month’s Designer Spotlight.
To view Lucy’s Designer Profile and complete Patternmash portfolio, click here.
Your current print project and many of your previous collections have had a focus on collections and people’s belongings. What is that draws you to this subject matter?
I was brought up in a lovely old house surrounded by old furniture, paintings and other heirlooms that have been passed down through my family, and there were various nooks and crannies filled with interesting things to look at, so I find I am constantly drawn to things with an age-worn feel and an element of history. My parents have always been interested in collecting and selling antiques, so I have definitely inherited my love of everything old from them! (continued below)
In my current project I am looking at collections of objects, as I find it interesting to see the contrast between priceless items you see in museums, compared to the objects that every day people choose to keep, that may appear worthless to the observer, yet hold meaning and memories for the owner. I’m also intrigued by how people curate their belongings, whether it is placed in a visually pleasing way on a bookshelf or cabinet, or organised in a categorical manner, as you would see under glass in a museum.
There are often ladies faces (with lovely rosy cheeks!) featured in your prints. Who are these women?! Do you like to draw a certain type of face?
I have always liked drawing faces as its something I never get bored of – when I was younger I had a book purely for drawing faces from fashion magazines. I have always liked to draw in a stylised way; when we did figure drawing in A-level art my friends said that I always managed to make people look like ‘more beautiful, French versions of themselves’. My drawings always start with an inspiration and some sort of story – for example, in my last project I named all my illustrations after the paintings and sculptures from the National Trust Archives which they were based on, and used these to display my scarf designs. For the ‘Lichenstein’s Lovechild’ Patternmash project, I used an old mannequin from home (named Veruschka after the 70s model) as a starting point for my drawings.
Despite always being drawn to things and people from days gone by, your prints, especially for Patternmash, often have a really modern edge with the inclusion of photographic elements. What is your favourite technique to employ in your print making?
I always carry fineliners and watercolours with me, but I particularly enjoy taking the time to do really detailed collages. I like how you can easily introduce texture and colour by using pictures from magazines, and I find using scissors makes me work more freely and creates more organic imagery. I often combine this technique with papercutting, where I use a scalpel to cut out almost lace-like patterns – I love it when people think that something you have done by hand looks like it has been laser cut. I also really like mixing photographic elements with my drawings, such as jewels or flowers, as they add another dimension to the final print and make you think twice about what you are looking at.
When I see the variation in watercolour marks or textured paper that you work with in your collages, I am often reminded of the illustrator Eric Carle (Very Hungry Caterpillar). Which are your favourite artists or textile designers and why?
Mary Katrantzou has to be my favourite print designer as I am always impressed by the way she explores photographic print, and I have been following her work ever since her perfume bottle inspired collection in AW 09/10. Another favourite of mine is Rob Ryan, as he has such a distinctive graphic style and he isn’t afraid to play with scale – when I saw his piece ‘The Map Of My Entire Life’ at Manchester Art Gallery I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the artwork and the fact that it was made entirely of finely cut paper. Another paper-based artist I like is Mark Hearld, as he uses collage and stencils to create lovely whimsical images of animals and scenes of nature which are just so interestingly layered.
What has been your favourite Patternmash Project and why?
My favourite project by far was ‘Lichenstein’s Lovechild’, purely because I saw it as such a challenge. The pop art theme wasn’t one that I would ever usually choose but I decided to push myself to try something new, and I ended up creating work that I was really proud of. It is a set of prints where I think the combination of photography and drawing worked really well, as you see the colours and shapes first and then you spot the photographic head scarf and sunglasses.
You put such a lot of work into styling the Lucy Smith Textiles brand, not just the print design but the visualisations and presentation with boxes etc. Who, if anybody, would be your dream stockist or store if you could choose one to represent, display and sell your scarves?
I have an old battered leather suitcase full of vintage silk scarves that I have collected from charity shops and fairs, which has always been the inspiration for creating my own scarves. The dream would be to design for Hermes, as their products are so luxurious and gorgeously hand-crafted.
What are your plans for after you graduate?
I hope to carry on with print commissions and find a way to continue my love of print by creating beautiful digital fashion print designs, whether that is as part of a design company or through my own range of products.