Designer Diaries : Celandine Design

Today's Designer Diaries feature is an interview with the very talented Lidija of Celandine Design!  Lidija is a Surface Pattern Designer and I just love the detail in her work! Her interview is so inspiring I couldn't wait to share! 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do? 

My name is Lidija but some people call me Celandine now, because it’s the name I use to promote my art. I’m a surface and pattern designer and I make detailed and layered seamless patterns inspired by nature. I like to take small things like flowers, insects, fish or crabs, and make them larger than life. 

When did you discover your passion? 

Comparatively late in life – I was 31 when I first started drawing, and it was pretty much a complete accident. I like to tell this story because 90% of the time when you ask artists about their beginnings they will say something like ‘I’ve always known I wanted to be an artist’, or ‘I’ve been creative and surrounded by art since I was a child’, and for me it was really nothing like that. I had a ton of interests and hobbies and none of them had anything to do with art. So anyone out there wishing they had discovered art earlier should stop moping about and just jump into it A lot of my art role models, like the wonderful ink illustrator Yuko Shimizu, also started very late in life. 

What made you turn your passion into a career choice versus just a hobby? 

For a long time I didn’t give much thought to the fact that my professional life didn’t excite me. I mean it’s a job, right? It’s supposed to keep you fed and clothed, not to entertain you. I work in administration and finance, and the jobs I’ve had have always been absolutely ok – well paid, with nice people. But there’s nothing to love about administration and finance. Once I discovered art I found this crazy internal drive to keep doing it, no matter what. It didn’t matter how tired I was when I got home, I’d always have energy to draw. Then I realized what a huge difference it is – what a huge difference in me, in my personality. At work I’m competent and reasonably dedicated, but with art I’m passionate and driven. So I thought – what if it could be like this always?

How do you stay motivated? 

I’ve never really found motivation an issue. Art is like a thing that lives inside your head and your heart and it wants to come out. You don’t have to coax it. Getting frustrated from time to time is one thing, but if anyone struggles with motivation long-term, I’d say they need to examine if the life of a professional artist is what they really want. Not everyone is cut out for it. For some people art is better as a hobby – when it’s a hobby there is no pressure, you don’t have to do it if you don’t feel like it. If it’s a job and you have to do a piece for a client, they don’t care if you’re motivated or not. Some top illustrators say ‘motivation is for amateurs’ – it’s a tough stance but at some level I agree with it. Nobody asks a shop clerk or a lawyer if they feel motivated. You show up and do your job. 

Can you share a little about your design process? 

I’m a digital girl through and through, but I still sketch on paper – even if it’s just the roughest outlines. For some reason the lines flow better on paper. I bring the sketches into Photoshop and lay down the base colors, and then work on details over that. Depending on the piece it can take up to 60 hours to complete a single design. My process is slow because it is very detail-heavy, and also because I have this thing about always pushing myself. So in every new piece I try to include something I don’t really know how to do, since I’ve never done it before. Then it will take time to experiment and mess up and go back and forth until it looks the way I want. But it pushes my learning curve forward. 

What is your favorite part about having a creative business?

It’s the ultimate underdog story – like one of those movies where the hero is tiny and weak and everything is stacked against him and he goes on to conquer the kingdom in the end. There is no creature so tiny as an artist first starting out. There are so many of us, legions of talented men and women struggling every day to get better and better, to show something new, to enchant the buyers so much that they decide they can’t live without what we make. Selling art is tough, but that’s what makes it worthwhile when you start having your first little successes. The first time someone gave me money for something I drew, I felt like a superhero. I’ve had paid jobs my whole life, but this is a completely different feeling. 

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career and how have you overcome them? 

I think the biggest challenge is conquering the self-doubt. There’s always a little voice in the back of your head saying that not only are you not good enough, but you will never be good enough. Learning how to make that little guy shut up (though he never quite goes away) has probably been the biggest challenge. You defeat him by ignoring him, basically. You accept the fact that you feel like your art will never be good and there is no hope, and you sit down to draw anyway. Then over time you get better, and you start to have some success, and he grows quieter. 

What advice would you give to aspiring designers looking to build a successful creative business? 

Expect less of yourself. This may sound as strange and negative advice to give, but the one thing I see really torturing young artists is that they want too much too soon. They cry over not having become successful yet, and they haven’t even learned to draw, far less developed a recognizable style. They dream of landing big clients when if a big client really wrote them an email tomorrow, they wouldn’t be up to the task of completing the assignment with the adequate level of professionalism. So basically my advice is, enjoy the fact that you’re not there yet. Go slowly, take the scenic route. You can’t get years of experience overnight. It’s ok for it to come slowly. You are getting better. Give yourself time. But never stop working on it.

Whats next for your career? 

I’ve had some significant changes to my art style during the last year, I guess I sort of grew into a new phase. This spring I’m working really hard on creating a new, coherent portfolio that will reflect that new work, and towards the end of summer I’m planning to start looking for an illustration agency to work with. In the meanwhile I’m focusing primarily on the art itself, but I have been getting a lot of interesting offers lately from different companies and manufacturers, and I’m following up with all of those – of course as always some end up working out, and some don’t. I’m feeling pretty liberated because previously I was convinced that I need to put a lot of effort into marketing and selling myself. I’m also branching out into teaching, I’ve got a Skillshare course in the works and I’ve started preparing tutorials for Tuts +. I’ve wanted to teach for a long time so that could turn into a very exciting adventure. 

Where can we find you on the web? 

Website - http://www.celandinedesign.com 

Blog - http://www.celandinedesign.wordpress.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/celandinedesign

Instagram - @celandinedesign

Twitter - @probablypretty