Niamh Fitzsimons is an amazing pattern as well as an illustrator and her artwork is just so visually beautiful and also just so fun! She studied as a graphic designer in Letterkenny Institute of Technology, who then turned her hand to be a surface pattern designer. Her work is licensed and sold across the USA and also through her website.
Some items that I am personally in love with are her personalized children’s wall art (adorable!) and also her notebooks. I am a massive stationary fan and these ones are hardback and they are half lined and half plain – stunning!! There are 4 designs to choose from and they are only €11.99. Niamh does actually sell online and you can find her shop here. Read on to learn more about her inspiring story;
What is your first memory of fashion/design
My first memory of design was when I was four years old and in school. When my teacher went on break she would get one of the girls from the older class to come down and supervise us. I remember she gave us a sheet of paper and a sketching pencil. I will never forget her showing me how to draw a princess, ballerina type figure with a heart shape top and a bun in her hair. I was mesmerized. From that day on every day all I would do at home was draw fashion girls etc. This was the beginning of my design journey.
Do you remember the first thing you designed.
The very first thing I designed was in my first design job in the design office in Holland for Philips products. I worked for a team of product designers who designed the Philips products. I created my very first pattern design to cover an epilator and the packaging box. I loved it and I knew I had found my path as a surface pattern designer. To create designs to adorn products to help them sell on the commercial marketplace.The patterns of your work are just so beautiful and I love the use of colour. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from many sources. My main inspiration when I was young was my love of Japanese design, the characters, the colours., the quirkiness. Living in Holland for 7 years also had a hugh influence on the development of my style and sources of inspiration being surrounded by different cultures, fashions and colours.
Every time I travel I photograph everything from the latest trends in stores, markets, vintage fabrics, people, children, animals. You never know when you will use that piece of inspiration in your work.
Your tagline ‘art to make you smile’ is just fantastic and really shows the love behind the brand. Could you talk us through some of the design process.
Thank you, I felt this tagline fitted what the brand stood for perfectly. So if I do not have an inspiration that pops into my head straight away. I will spend time gathering research on themes, trends, colours to decide my style etc. Then I take pencil to paper and I sketch and doodle elements.
Sometimes I just have to ‘’play’’ and see what emerges on paper. I do not always know what the end result can be. Once the idea is formed. I spend time re-drawing it. I then scan it in and begin re-working it mostly in illustrator.Although hard to choose, what has been your most proud moment to date?
I guess one of my most proudest moments to date was my last showcase that I did at the RDS. I have never felt so challenged with a project. With no help from experts in this specialised secto, I designed and manufactured my own brand of products and launched them in showcase at the RDS last year. I had to find my own suppliers, and figure out how to manufacture. Learn how to price, sell and design my stand and product lines in about 6 months. I think when you are pushed beyond your limits you really grow fast and learn quickly.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced along the way.
There have been many challenges. Trying to gain the finances I needed and the team to propel the business at a quicker rate was challenging. I gained alot of support from surface pattern designers in the US and UK who were very open and a good ear to consult with during these times. I also struggled with working from my home studio at times. It can become isolating and you really have to work at making sure there is good structure in your working day. I also found a lot of negativity in Ireland and opinions around startups. I had to learn to not discuss my business endeavors with people who were not in business themselves. Judgment can be detrimental to the design process.
Would you have any advice for those thinking of getting into the design creation.
Just know that everyone has a different path, There is not just one way to get there. It is the journey that forms your character and work. Try not to look at others work and compare theirs to your own. It takes years of practice, many many hours honing your skills. Keep positive people around you. Find mentors.
You need to be ambitious, and have a lot of perseverance to make it in the industry. Know that the creative path is a difficult one but also extremely rewarding when you achieve your goals and work on your passion, designing. Then it does not feel like work and that’s living.
“Never let anyone or anything take your dream away from you”
What are your aspirations for the future with Niamh Design Studio?
At the moment I am working on a new and exiting website. I plan on extending my range of children’s personalized wall arts along with other product ranges. I will keep working with my NY agent selling my surface pattern designs to the US market. I will be also creating my own patterns available on my new website soon. I wish to keep growing and developing as a surface pattern designer designer/illustrator and creating art to make people smile 🙂
I love learning about people who have followed their passion & ambition, have put in the hard work to make their business a success. Niamh has built her company from the ground up and I have no doubt that she will continue to have amazing successes with Niamh Design Studio.
A big thank you to Niamh for being interviewed – her patterns are so beautiful and her pieces would make the most amazing gifts as well. You can check out her website or follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
All images kindly provided by Niamh.