Our fifth installment of our series of interviews with our Fabric8 Design Challenge finalists is Ali Benyon from Melbourne Australia! Get to know Ali a little better and keep an eye out for a last three finalist profiles next week!
Describe your typical day as a designer.
No two days are the same for me, but I do like to start my morning with some kind of exercise, preferably outdoors. I find the rest of my day goes so much smoother if I’ve had some fresh air and pushed my body a bit. Next comes coffee, catching up on emails and making a list of things to do. I find it very difficult to design on demand, so on the days I’m in a very creative mood, I design all day and get as much done as I possibly can. The next day I may struggle to find my designers head, so I make sure I do other creative things; create colour boards, do some research for drawings, draw, catch up with trends or submit artwork to licensing companies etc. Once school pick up comes around, my designing day has to be put on hold until my children's bedtime. If I have a lot to catch up on, I go back to it once the kids are in bed. That’s what I love most about working from home, the total flexibility around my small family.
Where do you interact most often with your design community?
I’ve always been a big fan of Facebook, so I do tend to do a lot of my socialising and keeping everyone updated on there. I’m also in a few Facebook “art” groups which I’d be lost without to be honest. I’ve made so many connections on there and it’s really nice to have other designers to chat with and exchange ideas. I used to be a big blogger, but unfortunately, once I get busy, my blog does tend to go on the backburner.
What do you do to meet a tight deadline?
I make lists and prioritise. If something is very important, then I concentrate 100% on that project until it’s complete. Being creative I am easily distracted (I’m sure a lot of you artistic types will be agreeing with me right now!!) So I’ve learnt over the years to shut everything else out so I can concentrate on that one project. I then write a list. This helps me to break down overwhelming deadlines.
How did you come up with your fabric 8 design?
Well as soon as I saw the brief I knew exactly what I wanted to do. At the moment I’m absolutely loving working with very dark backgrounds, so that was a given. But I also wanted to use extremely bright colours as a bold contrast. So hot pinks, bright turquoise, zingy limes and sharp oranges came to mind. I love colour, so I was excited to use this explosive rainbow of ideas. The motifs I was visualising in my head were the type you find underwater, so I excitedly began researching animals and plant life found amongst coral reefs. Living in Australia, The Great Barrier Reef is such an inspiration and I was so happy to use this subject to base my drawings. So even though the brief was Space Odyssey, I think I had a slightly different, some might say, daring take on the title. I wanted my design to be an explosion of colour and a unique look at a world unknown to us.
In what medium do you best like to create art?
I’m a Textile Designer, so I love to create things that ooze texture, energy and colour. I have always loved creating art by stitching into paper. I like to draw with the machine and love the free flowing lines, marks and tracks it makes on the paper. However, I’m loving working with Illustrator right now. I’m really enjoying finding ways of adding different textures to my work and am using the sewing machine amongst other things to help me create that look and feel.
Who is one of your favourite visual artists, textile or otherwise, and why?
I have always loved the work of Andy Goldsworthy. He’s a sculptor, photographer and environmental artist. He works with nature; leaves, twigs, ice, mud and stone to produce some amazing natural sculptures. I personally think the most beautiful art is the one found all around us; nature. The magnificent colours of a tree in autumn, ice crystals, crashing waves, coral reefs, the texture of a leaf and the beauty of a single flower.... Well this guys art IS nature. It’s truly fantastic and very unique.
What is your favourite song, album, or artist? Do you listen to music when you design?
I have to listen to music when I design, it gives me energy and puts a bit of happy into my work. However, I’m a bit of a chameleon when it comes to music choice. I can like anything if it’s really good and floats my boat! From Frank Sinartra, to opera, to the latest pop song being played to death on the radio. If I like it, I LOVE it! However, if you forced me to choose and as I’m originally from Manchester, I would have to say that The Stone Roses would come out tops, followed closely by The Charlatans. At the moment I’m bopping along to some of the happy-go-lucky tunes being produced by some Scandinavian and Icelandic artists; Mikhael Paskalev and Of Monsters and Men. Ah, and now we’re on the subject of Icelandic artists, well, I still love listening to Bjorks album, Debut. See, told you, I’m a real chameleon when it comes to music!
If you could meet any character from a film, who would it be?
I think a girls night out with Bridget Jones could be hilarious, so I’d definitely say her. Or even Chevy Chase, his character in Funny Farm! I do like a bit of slap stick humour, it’s right up my street!
Where would you go if you could travel anywhere and what is the one thing you’d most like to do there?
I’ve travelled a lot over the years, but the one place I really wish I’d visited when I was living in the UK was Morocco. I’d love to spend time in the city of Marrakesh; getting lost in the busy Souk market...and buy a carpet or two of course!! I’d drink mint tea with the locals, climb the Atlas Mountains and soak up all that delicious colour and exciting atmosphere.
What do you think next years theme should be and why?
I’d love to see what designers could do with the title “Anemones” There are so many possibilities that could evolve from that one word and the colour choices would be endless. I reckon there could be some truly amazing entries.
What are your plans if you win?
Erm......scream with excitement and astonishment would probably be my first reaction. But once I’d calmed down, which could take a few days, then I’d just be so excited to start designing my collection for Robert Kaufman; the main reason why I entered the competition in the first place. It’s a big dream of mine to have a collection with Robert Kaufman, so to win and have this opportunity would be amazing! At the moment I’m working hard towards finding someone to represent me, an agent. So if I manage to find one before Surtex next year, then I’d definitely be putting the money towards a very expensive plane ticket to New York, so I can walk Surtex and hopefully see my work being shown there. That would be a dream come true too. With the Wacom tablet, well, I don’t have one of those right now, so I’m sure I’d be spending plenty of hours playing around with it and seeing how it can enhance my work. I could also cross it off my Christmas list!
- Favourite color: Green. The zingy, lime variety.
- Spirit animal: (You got me on this one as I had no idea what a spirit animal was to be honest. So I did an online quiz and was rather disappointed to find out that I’m a crow!! So let’s pretend I didn’t do that quiz shall we and I’ll choose) a wolf; loyal, honest, passionate down to earth and strong. Yes, that sounds much better!
- Favourite food: Hot pot!
- Place you’d most like to visit: Too many, but if I have to choose just one I’d say The Guggenheim in New York
- Hometown: Manchester, UK, but have lived in Melbourne, Australia for the past 9 years and call that most definitely home now.
- Favourite Movie: All the Harry Potters. My kids are obsessed, but I secretly love them too! Recently though, I really, really enjoyed The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It was so different and the photography was outstanding.
- Dog or cat: Dog
- Favourite season: Autumn, always autumn.