Interview: Elizabeth Whibley
Elizabeth is a plant hoarder, textile designer and fashion guru. Her work is unique, talented and always full of wonderful quirky colours. I was lucky enough to have an interview with her to see what she has been up to.
Hello Elizabeth! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?
I'm very well thank you, always am when the sun is shining.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I have creative parents which has definitely helped me think like a creator. I've grown up in East Farleigh, Kent and am currently in that awkward stage of summer where I am no longer in 'education' so I'm trying to keep myself busy. I've just finished my Foundation in Art and Design: Fashion and Textiles and am so keen to be going back to my university to start a degree in Fashion textiles print!!!
I adore your work. What inspired you to start doing textiles, sewing and design?
Thank you firstly; it's quite hard to answer actually as it just seems like it kind of happened that I'm here doing what I do. I think growing up in a house where I saw my mum sew me things like fancy dress outfits and ballet leotards and toys clothes and fabric animals subconsciously made me like making 'something out of nothing.' Not only is it productive to the mind but also you can have really thoughtful and unique outcomes from that kind of attitude. I've fortunately always been told I was good at art in school so that gave me lots of confidence in this area too. My mum is very knowledgeable in flora and fauna and keeps our garden beautifully so I've always been surrounded by gorgeous specimens of botany.
Have you always been into textiles, sewing and design?
Yes, I can't imagine not being.
How has your creative process changed since the start?
It's hard in school to develop a real style I think early on and I am only really, in the last few years, just fixating mine I believe. I always liked hand sewing which is also a plus when you're young as sewing machines can be quite tricky to use. When I got my own sewing machine though my skills in machine embroidery grew very quickly. I stopped hand embroidering for quite a while after I got it but I am now very much back into the very intensive, time consuming hand embellishment. I've always loved print and exploring different types through sixth form secured my decision to study it as a degree.
What equipment do you use for your work?
Embroidery threads, beads, sequins, trimmings, buttons, vintage fabrics for all my sewingy bits and then mostly lino, rubber cuts or screen-printing and foiling.
What tools or materials could you not live without?
Anything remotely shiny.
Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?
I don't really use any other social media other than Instagram and started it years ago because it was the thing to do and I like the relaxed nature of of where you can follow who you want and who wants to follow you can. So many of the people I follow are fellow artists and designers whether they are famous or just starting out. In the very near future I am planning to open an Etsy shop so I hope social media will help me gain some customers. It's amazing how we can connect with each other over the internet. I'm currently talking to two girls (one is abroad) who has Etsy sites and we are arranging art exchanges, without my Instagram this wouldn't of happened.
Who inspires your work?
I've been a follower of Orla Kiely before she got mega famous so she'll always be a favourite. Love classic William Morris of course, who doesn't? Angie Lewin, Jac Storm, John Dilnot all print artist I love. And I'm inspired by huge companies collections like Valentino, Gucci, etc. I take inspiration from anywhere really.
Do you have any favourite pieces of design work or textiles that you adore at the moment?
I really like House of Holland's stuff right now and a smaller printing company called the printed peanut.
What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram and your work?
My etsy shop opening!! Planning to sell hand printed/foiled journals which are hand bound by myself with a little help from my boyfriend who is a bookbinder so that's always handy! Also some embroidered hoops and badges and any other cutsie bits I think of or that I can part with!
And me starting my degree course I suppose I'll post my work from that.
What are your career plans?
Ideally I'd love to be either a freelance textile designer or work with a company. I also have a dream of owning a second hand interior store come cafe.
Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to start designing pattern textiles?
I mean I'm not an expert but be well sourced with inspiration and do whatever feels most you! Getting a design suitable for print won't happen over night so keep working hard on it. I couldn't of worked harder on my final design for my Foundation final collection and that was the best thing I've ever done.
Do you have any advice for designers?
Similar to above but try and think of something that's fresh and exciting but that also reflects you. Our life needs to be stimulating and exciting and rewarding. I think pretty much all paths in the creative industry are those. Do what makes you happy. I design things as if I'm the client which may seem selfish but your whole heart has to be in it or you won't be able to show your drive and love for it.
What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?
My head's reeling to think of all the things teachers or tutors or friends or family have said to me that was helpful. I'd say probably to aim high and believe in your abilities and choices as that's what I was told.
Please make sure to search ‘elizabethwhibley’ on Instagram for her wonderful fashion and textile designs.