“Illustration is creating imagery, often with a variety of tools, but always with human energy and ideas.” The art of Shelley Steer follows the definition. Her graphics are tainted with pure love of nature and textile designs are aesthetically reminiscent of William Morris, where visuals of flora drag you into the secret gardens hiding behind the other side of the image. We speak to Shelley on beauty, projects and the sun.
On nature and beauty… It is authenticity. In people, art, music, whatever it is, I generally find that if something or someone is genuine, beauty will be present. I’ve found nature to be an unlimited supply of inspiration, easily accessible and always a great excuse to get outside.
On the evolution… My creative process is a number of small individual decisions that collectively produce and evolve into the final piece. It usually looks something like this… I get out and about taking photos, observing or wandering online, this is followed by a bit of experimentation and sketching. At this point, I’ll decide what technique to use… drawing, painting, digital or photographic. Then it’s all about creating the finished motifs and illustrations, playing around with layout and colour, refinement and finally, sending it to the client, with fingers crossed that they like it!
On the power of visual art… I think its impact, whether subtle or immediately felt has the ability to inspire, inform and transport it’s audience. I remember being very aware of this fact years ago in Japan, when I came across an illustrated postcard which immediately transported me to my Grandma’s bathroom in country Australia. The colours and atmosphere of the image brought on such a powerful sense of nostalgia, that my mind was all at once that of a carefree child feeling the breeze of an open window on a hot summer’s afternoon.
On textile design… William Morris was one of my first influences when I was contemplating studying textile design, his body of work is truly impressive. I’ve always found it hard to describe my aesthetic, but I think the words detailed and layered come to mind, maybe with an element of the decorative. Strong colour palettes have always been important, but only now am I understanding just how influential they really are.
On A Side Project… It was a little venture myself and graphic designer Louise Jones, embarked upon at the start of this year. It is a project where we both develop an individual artwork/pattern based on a monthly theme. Louise and I were both working in the same studio at the time and really wanted to produce more work that really showcased our unique styles and talents. We set it up to be a project that would extend our skills, ideas and also offer up some great finished outcomes.
A few years ago I remember reading a quote, that said something like… make the work you wish you were making, this was a project that challenged us to do this and back ourselves. So often you can get caught up in earning a living that it’s easy to forget why you’ve chosen this career, you find yourself continually wishing that you had time to do this or try that… A Side Project has probably been one of the most important.
On art obsessions… There are so many, but to name a few… Stephen Eichhorn, Alicia Galer, Ernst Haeckel. Always Claude Monet.
On future wishes…Time, space, funds, great paper, awesome stationery, inspiring projects… all hopefully resulting in some great artwork! And of course, some sunshine.