Somehow, Lara Cameron slipped under my radar until only a few weeks ago. I’ve seen her stunning work around town and on the web… but for some crazy reason, it took me a little while to stumble across her blog. How does this happen? Shameful! I must make more effort to keep in the loop!
Lara studied Multimedia at Swinburne in Melbourne, and after graduating started work as an interactive and graphic designer. She still does all that grown-up computer stuff… but her true love is fabric design, and her stunning work is gradually gaining her a lot of fans. Her work is a careful balance of Japanese-influenced playful illustration, with Scandinavian-inspired clean lines and unfussy patterns. Her colour combinations are always spot-on – my favourites are her mustard yellows and deep teal greens… but I’ve always got time for a bit of dusty pink too!
Melburnians (and possibly Sydney-siders too?) probably saw Lara featured in The Age’s M magazine last weekend in a feature about young Australian designers to watch! There’s also a lot of Lara on the web.. get your fix at her gorgeous blog, her online shop, or trawl her beautiful photos on Flickr. But first – read the interview! An insight into Lara’s creative inspirations and her blossoming business, plus, of course, a round-up of her favourite spots in Melbourne.
Tell me a little about your background – what did you study and what path led you to what you’re doing now?
I started off studying for a Bachelor of Multimedia majoring in Media Studies, at Swinburne Uni. Once I graduated I worked for myself as an interactive and graphic designer, which I still do on the side.
Then about 2 years ago I started a design blog, where I was posting about random creative stuff that I was doing. It was supposed to be a means of encouraging myself to experiment more – I was feeling a bit stale. I began experimenting with pattern design, and really enjoyed the mix of creative & technical skills that it required to get a design to repeat seamlessly.
Anyway, I got so many positive comments from my blog reader about my patterns, that I decided to do something about it! Textiles was actually the most viable – I could start off with a short run, unlike other printed products. And hence my textiles business began!
Your work is so varied! From illustration to corporate graphic design work, to working on your own range of gorgeous fabric designs… How do you balance these different elements of your business? Do you find they complement each other well?
I really enjoy working on a wide range of projects – it keeps me on my toes. Currently it’s a good mix of the more ‘boring’ work that pays well, and then the more rewarding, personal work that doesn’t pay quite so well. There’s a lot of overlap in the skills required which is good.
You are one of a growing number of home-based designers with popular blogs! Do you see your blog as a way to connect with other like-minded designers, or with potential customers/clients? How much of your web-presence is a personal outlet, and how much of it is based on promoting your work?
My blog is definitely a key way that I connect with both like minded designers, also potential customers. I’ve met some fantastic fellow textile designers through my blog (Shannon Lamden, Kristen Doran, Bianca Van Meeuwen, Danielle Smeets) and heaps of other lovely creative folk around the world. I do also use it as a way to connect with potential customers, but I try to just be myself at the same time. I don’t use it as a place to talk about my personal life and problems, but I do try to keep it from being too salesy.
You have had some really interesting international collaborations – such as your letterpress cards printed in the US, and your work available through Moo in the UK. How have these international contacts come about? Do you have plans for any other creative collaborations in the future?
All of my international collaborations have come about through blogging / online communities. Lynn from Satsuma Press and I used to read each other’s blogs. As for Moo, I uploaded a photo of some Moo cards I had printed to a Moo Flickr set, and they contacted me as a result!
How do potential clients/customers find you? Do you ‘market’ yourself?
Apart from posting on my blog, I do no promotional work at all – it’s great! People find my blog and my work through word of mouth. If they like it they keep coming back and tell other people. ‘Sidebar links’ on other people’s blogs also help people to find my site.
Which designers, artists or creative people are you inspired by?
All of the other designers in our little fabric mafia (Shannon Lamden, Kristen Doran, Bianca Van Meeuwen, Danielle Smeets). Also Cloth Fabric Australia, Spacecraft, Holly Daze and Heather Moore (Skinny La Minx) from South Africa.
Where else do you find inspiration?
I’m generally inspired by Melbourne city: it’s people, architecture, cafes and fantastic art/craft/design communities. I’m also inspired by nature & organic forms, and urban environments. Most of all I’m inspired by all of the fantastically creative folk in the blogosphere.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
Ooh I’m not sure if there is such a thing as a typical day! When I’ve just received some fabric back from the printer my days are spent rerolling bolts of fabric, taking product photos, listing items in my shop, cutting and packing orders and lugging them to the post office. It’s a nice change from the other days where I spend a lot of time at the computer.
What are you most proud of professionally?
Hmm that’s tough! I guess I’m most proud of how much I have developed professionally in the last year. Where I was then and where I am now are two completely different places – it’s changed me as a person too. I’m a lot more confident and content in myself.
Complete creative freedom and control :)
And the worst?
Currently, probably the isolation of working alone. But that’ll change soon when I finally move into some shared studio space.
What would be your dream project?
Oooh, probably to collaborate with someone like a wood worker who I could make awesome homewares products with. Like beautiful wooden handmade benches with printed seat cushions on them, and lampshades with beautiful wooden bases or lampshade frames.
What are you looking forward to – professionally or personally?
Just seeing where my business goes next. I can definitely see how it could grow and improve, and I look forward to making that happen, bit by bit.
Melbourne Questions –
What/where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?
It wasn’t the fanciest meal ever (still delicious), but it was the environment that totally did it for me – a bowl of soup for lunch at the new Auction Rooms café in North Melbourne. The fitout is awesome.
Best fabric shop in Melbourne?
Hmm, I don’t actually frequent fabric stores that often! Some of my favourite crafty stores in general though are Meet Me at Mikes, Thread Den and Patchwork on Central Park (they’ve all been very supportive).
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
Ideally, having brunch with my girly friends at The Hot Poppy in North Melbourne :)
Melbourne’s best kept secret?
The derelict yet beautiful, parquetry floored ballroom inside Flinders Street Station. I’ve only ever seen photos but I would LOVE to set foot inside that room one day.
Thanks so much for your time Lara! – Lucy :)