We chat with Illustrator and Textile Designer, Edith Rewa, about moving to The Blue Mountains, combining traditional skills & crafts with digital design, and her top 5 exhibition crushes.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs? I studied a Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design) at RMIT University (Melbourne) with a major in screen printing. Whilst in my last year at Uni I completed an internship during my holidays at a Textile Design Studio in Sydney – Longina Phillip Designs.
I was heartened by the emphasis the studio placed on the hand drawn and painted designs – An element that I felt was pretty rare in a lot of design studios who seem to rely on digital mediums for speed. I ended up moving to Sydney directly after graduating to begin full time work there. It was an enormous learning curve for me and a real reality slap in terms of how textile design can be a viable job in a commercial industry – especially in comparison to the freedom and perhaps blissful naivety of Uni!
When I was a little more on my feet I began illustrating for myself a lot once I got home from work and on the weekends and gradually went down to part time work to allow more time to spend on my headscarf label I had just launched. After 3 years I moved to The Blue Mountains to start full time freelance work, prompted by the opportunity to spend the first few months illustrating botanicals for a book.
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do. This always seems a little flexible but I would call my self a freelance Illustrator and Textile Designer. I split my time between doing work for clients which might be anything from packaging design, patterns for wrapping paper/stationary, clothing prints, pattern repeats, private commissions etc and my own personal work. My personal work includes exhibition pieces, love projects, collaborations and mostly making artwork prints and illustrated silk scarves for my label.
I am stirred by all things botanical and Australian, and am constantly working to share a sense of reverence in our natural landscape and its bounty. I use textiles to give my illustrations further purpose, creating walking museums of cloth . My work is often a result of flora/fauna explorations and collected specimens from my surrounding bushland, especially at the moment around Blackheath in the Blue Mountains where I currently work and live.
What role does digital design play in your studio in 2017, and how to you apply traditional graphic design skills in a digital age? The combination of traditional skills and digital design is fundamental to my practice. My University education focused heavily on learning the traditional crafts of knitting/ weaving/ screen printing/ pattern design/ illustration and mark making by hand. The translation of these crafts into a digital form and how to manipulate and combine the 2 was taught to us with an understanding that it allowed traditional crafts and skills to be taken into a new space.
All my illustrations and mark making are executed with pencils, pens, ink/brushes or textas by hand before being scanned and rendered/composed on the computer – usually in Photoshop. For me this allows a lot more freedom and flexibility as well as the ability to transfer detailed drawings onto textiles via digital printing with ease.
What do you look for in a great portfolio? 1. For me I want to be able to see a sense of the designers own individual personality and style. A few love projects they can get really excited about and share with pride.
2. Versatility – With the above established I think it is great to see the designer can apply them selves to a range of design skills and audiences to show that they can work to and understand briefs set that might not necessarily be their most ideal kind of work.
3. A strong show of some design basics – Colour, composition etc!
4. A mix of both hand and digital skills. Examples that show you can use the Adobe suite, make motifs/elements by hand and also the combination!
Any passion projects you would like to share? Absolutely! I have just finished up a big love project which I am due to launch in a few weeks. It has been a body of work that I have been working on over this past year as I have travelled to inland Australia to learn a little more of it’s arid flora! Here is a little snippet..
‘Field Trip exhibits a world I found to be alive and erupting with colour, pattern and incredible plant peculiarities. I learned about desert places previously unknown to me, excitedly illustrating my way into the landscape through the flora and fauna. These designs push the Eremeophila neglectas into the spotlight, challenging the notion that ‘there is nothing out there’, wanting our arid land plants to be noticed and applauded. These silk scarves exhibit a landscape I explored in a series of desert trips. Fragments only, but I hope they take you there.’ – Illustrated, printed and made in Australia on Silk Crepe de Chine.
(Look book coming soon!)