When I first saw the work from Petal to Petal on Instagram I was hooked. The prints use lace as an inspiration and are simply breathtaking. I love the fine detail and the elegance within each one as well.
Lily is the very talented Irish illustrator behind the brand, she is based in beautiful West Cork and I love the focus that she has on the detail of the design. I am always a fan of someone who makes her own mark on her industry and Lily truly has such a unique illustrative signature. I am more than delighted to be featuring her on Floralesque today.
Have you always been interested in art and design?
I wanted to be an interior designer when I was younger and at an early age I was introduced to the works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and William Morris. I loved the detail and perfection in their work, the pattern and symmetry. It was so clear that they loved what they did and were passionate about it- not just in creating their work but in their involvement in the Arts and Crafts movement- and that made me realise how important it is to do what you love.
I studied graphic design in college and then trained as an art and design teacher. I loved elements of both professions but my heart wasn’t truly in either. I wanted to create my own designs so while I was in college I started making and selling work in my spare time. Although I studied full-time courses and worked at the weekends I always made time for my artwork because it was what I wanted to do.
Using lace detailing in your prints is so unusual. Where did the inspiration come from?
My style has always been intricate and when I started illustrating I created a lacing style that I named ‘flower bomb’. The style is organic and I use it to this day, illustrating hundreds and often thousands of flowers in different patterns and shapes. I’ve always been drawn to detail, and love pattern and texture, so it was inevitable that I would fall in love with the art of lacemaking.
Several years ago, I started to study lace stitches and since moving back home to Ireland after living abroad I have been working with Irish Lace; illustrating stitches of different laces from different regions in Ireland. The skill, technique and time that goes into lacework fascinates me, and I try to do it justice by creating original designs in a single piece of hand-drawn detailed illustration. I always try to be as original as possible with my work so I wanted to give the traditional art form a contemporary twist.
The Cork landscape is just stunning, do you find that this influences your work?
Yes definitely. My studio overlooks the sea, rolling fields, mountains and forests and it is a constant source of inspiration. The patterns in nature and the colours of the landscape are ever-changing and even on a grey day, I can look at a stormy sky and think ‘what a nice shade of grey’. My latest designs are inspired by the hypnotising murmurations of starlings that I see swirling around the sky.
I love that you are also branching out to putting your prints onto homewares. Do you have a favourite print that you have created?
My dream has always been to apply my designs to textiles and homewares. Daisy-Chain is still a favourite, I like the simplicity and fragility of the design. I made 6 designs that link up together when they are aligned on a wall. Last Summer I collaborated with a Cork based ceramicist called Luke Sisk on a range of ceramic pots that he made and I illustrated them by hand with the Daisy-Chain design.
Are there any artists that you look up to/admire?
The greats- William Morris, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Irish illustrator Harry Clarke. Some work is just timeless. A modern day artist that I admire is London based Rob Ryan who creates the most beautiful and delicate paper-cut designs. I love the way that he continues to do what he loves, has stuck to his strong and recognisable style and that when he collaborates with companies on a product he oversees every aspect of the production. It ensures that his products are always such high quality and that’s an aspect that I think is so important when building a brand and working for yourself.
Starting your own business must have its challenges. What has been the toughest challenge that you have come up against?
Financing different projects is a huge challenge as there is always competition from large companies with massive production budgets. I have been lucky enough to be able to license my designs to wonderful companies like Dublin based Mr. Jenks who have printed my ‘Ireland in Bloom’ design on Silk pocket squares. Collaborations have enabled me to see my designs on product ranges that I would never be able to produce myself.
And onto more positive things, what has been your proudest moment to date?
Being featured in House & Home Magazine is a lovely feeling. House & Home does a great job of sourcing products from Irish makers and seeing my work alongside all the talent in our little country makes me very happy.
Would you have any advice to other artists who would like to start their own business?
Skill-wise, the more you practice, the better you will be and you will learn from every mistake so never think of them as bad things. Also, never compare yourself to anyone else- I think that too many people do and that it’s the reason why there are so many imitations out there. Do what is true to you and do it to the best of your ability. I really believe that people that stay true to themselves develop the most original and recognisable work.
Finance wise- keep a record of everything. If you are organised from the start you will appreciate it later on.
Time-wise, you really do reap what you sow. There can be some very long days and 7 day working weeks but that’s the price that has to be paid if you decide to follow your own dream and not someone else’s. There are so many challenges along the way and it can take years to establish yourself in the marketplace, but if you’re passionate about your dreams don’t give up.
What does the future hold for Petal to Petal?
This Summer I will be bringing in a new studio companion- a little petal! I am working on as many new designs as I can before the baby arrives and making lots of plans for the future. It’s a very exciting time and I am hoping to create many new designs for paper goods, homewares and textiles.
A massive thank you to Lily for doing the interview – I simply love her work. It is different to other pieces on the market and her work would make the most wonderful gifts. Do check out more details on her website as you can also shop from there as well! Petal to Petal are also on Facebook and Twitter, though it is their Instagram is what really grabbed my heart. This is one artist that I quite simply am a massive fan of.
If you enjoyed this interview in the ‘Floralesque Meets’ Series, then you can click here to read more exciting interviews with designers, creators, artists, photographers, entrepreneurs and more – enjoy meeting the makers!
Images kindly provided by Lily.