Spotlight on Designer Lillian Farag

Whimsical, feminine and bright...these were the first words that came to mind when I first saw the work of Lillian Farag. Brooklyn-based surface designer Farag has a true gift of adding excitement and color to paper, cloth and leather. That's right, this designers art surpasses paper; her spectacular can also be seen on her unique collection of clutches and scarves! Her beautiful items grabbed my attention and I immediately knew I had to have her featured. The Savannah College of Art & Design grad took some time to answer some questions for me. It was heart warming to learn that this inspiring woman was encouraged to create by a strong woman in her life.    

One last thing before you get to the amazing interview, Farag has shared a code with my wonderful readers for a generous discount in her shop. The code is at the bottom of the post, Enjoy!


What sparked your interest in art and design?

I was raised by a single mother and she often would make my clothing when I was young so I guess you could say I get it from her. She is quite artistic herself and used to hand paint characters and animals on fabric and then sew custom pillows and blankets out of it.  When I look back at her work it had a sort of folk art quality to it. I spent a lot of my childhood surrounded by art materials and I grew an increasing curiosity as I grew older. Naturally, my mother encouraged me to paint and draw from a young age and that was how I entertained myself as an only child.

 

Are you self-taught?

I guess you could say that. I've  been interested in some form of art ever since I was young and I really didn't have any formal training until I was in high school. I was lucky enough to attend a high school that specialized in the arts and it was only then that I was able to learn traditional techniques and explore the arts on a more guided level. 

 

Do you remember the point in life when you realized you wanted to make a living as an artist?

When I was in high school, I definitely remember feeling an urgency to try and find a way to make a living by painting. The idea of being able to financially support myself by creating art in that form seemed really exciting, but also really out of reach. That's when I started to explore the idea of becoming a designer of some sort. I had great mentors in school who encouraged me to find a college where I would have the proper resources to make that dream a reality. Once I realized that it is possible to make a living creating artwork that could be used for all types of products, I knew that was the clear path there for me.  

What inspires you?

I find what inspires me the most is color, shape,  and my everyday surroundings. I really love color relationships.  I also love how nature has this way of presenting us with really pure color combinations that simply just work together. I think that's why I often find myself going back to painting florals and nature inspired pieces. There is a sense of endless inspiration there.

 

What is your artistic process?

 Well, it really depends on what I am working on at the moment. If I am painting, I usually start with mixing colors or creating my color story. I often don't plan out much of the design itself before hand, I just start painting and see where it takes me. I also try and identify what inspired me about the project itself and create a loose mood board of color and inspiration to sort of get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Is there a theme to your work?

A lot of my work is expressive,  lively, and colorful. I like to challenge myself with new techniques and mediums which is how I keep a fresh spin on my work. I would say that it generally stays consistent to those three underlining characteristics.

 

Has your style evolved over time?

Oh sure! It is constantly changing. It's something I feel I'm always conscious of. I don't think it's a good or bad thing, just a part of the process. Every new experience, new influence in my life, or technique I'm trying to refine, there comes a sense of gradual change. It's inevitable. It keeps me striving for the next new phase of work, technique, and style.

What is the most challenging part of being an artist?

For me, the most challenging part of being an artist is trying to make a living being an artist. Plain and simple.  Being an artist is a creative outlet for me but when trying to balance that with the demands of clients, creative blocks can occur.

 To start on a project knowing that it isn't always going to be your own voice can be really tough. As my business has started to grow, I am more and more sought out for my distinct style and voice which has been really gratifying. However, I haven't always had the luxury to work on projects where I had complete creative freedom.

 

What is your favorite aspect of running your business?

What I love about running my own business is that I am able to choose the projects I want to work on and pave the way I want the world to see my work. 

It wasn't until I started working towards my own design ideas that I realized I could essentially take on anything I wanted to and be able to take risks that would help me grow in ways I wouldn't have been able to before. I have always loved collaborating with other designers and artists, and working for myself has really allowed me to take on those projects and thus create opportunities for new ventures. 

How do you stay motivated when you experience a creative rut?

Oh, yeah that can be hard. I try and just work through it the best I can. It can be especially challenging when I have a deadline but don't feel I'm in the right mindset to creatively problem solve.  In these moments,  I take a break from the project and play in other mediums, re-visit past inspiration boards,  and more or less try to understand what is causing me to feel stuck in my own head. Often it has to do with the project itself and so then I try and take a break from it for a short while and try something new to refresh my palette.

 

What has been your favorite project so far?

With every new project there comes a sense of excitement and challenge. I love projects that are first times for me. I recently took on a collaboration project where I designed a line of printed leather office supplies for a fairly big retailer. They were so easy to work with (which isn't always the case) and allowed me to have complete ownership over the ideas that I pitched. It was really interesting to see how my hand painted leather business could inspire a collaboration on a much bigger level. I loved learning their process on how they would bring a hand painted product into mass production. It made me realize that there are endless possibilities if you create the right partnerships. 

 

What inspired your boob clutch? (apart from the obvious)

Boobs have crept in and out of my artwork for years. I started to paint watercolor boobs in different skin tones as a fun little card to give my girlfriends for their birthdays or any special occasion. They became so popular that I had friends asking for custom pieces. As I started working with leather I had the idea to create the boob clutch because it seemed like a great gift for a new momma or one of my girlfriends.  It was a total coincidence that there also happens to be a strong women empowerment movement going on right now and this whole political debate on who is allowed to make choices regarding our own bodies. I decided that it was only fair that I donate a portion of the proceeds to Planned Parenthood and other institutions that help women.

Where do you see your business going?

Right now the central idea around my business is the artwork and patterns that I develop. I'm working on multiple collaborations at the moment that involve licensing artwork for the home, fashion,  and paper/stationery industry.  Licensing artwork and collaborating is a part of the business I really enjoy doing and is essential in establishing my brand as a whole. 

The hand painted leather business started out as a passion project but is also growing pretty rapidly.   I have been working with retailers to bring LF products into their stores. It's nice to offer products in stores in addition to online. Throughout this process, I've realized I really enjoy spending more time developing new ideas and trying to introduce new products within each new collection. 

Do you have any other creative outlets?

Does dancing count? Ha, it's a great way to express yourself with movement and emotion. I try and find ways to be creative in almost everything I do, although I'm not always conscious I'm doing so. I guess it ' s just something that is innate. I love to experiment whether  I am cooking, or finding new uses for an old dress or even old furniture. It ' s all super fun and stimulating at the same time. 

 

What is your ultimate goal with your artwork?

I'm really working towards building my brand whether that is with print work and collaborating with different companies or simply growing my leather business and continuing to develop specially painted pieces at a manageable scale.  So far I can't complain, I keep finding ways to work with like-minded artists and I am able to keep my craft evolving. I try to keep things light, not take anything too seriously and make sure that overall I'm having fun doing what I do!

Use code SPOTLIGHT for a 15% discount. Exp 04/01/17

Don't forget to follow Farag to see more of her beautiful creations!


IRO