Thursday, 7 June 2012

profile leah bartholomew - beneath the sun.

leah in the sun
my only song pillowcase set
playing cutout pillowcases

girl in flowers cushion

sun shines pillowcases

prism forest art print
budgies art print

Leah Bartholomew must have a sunny disposition, as her art prints, soft furnishings, homewares and stationery are bursting with sunny goodness and bright colourful designs. After 10 years living in Melbourne working as an artist and graphic designer, Leah recently returned to her home town on the NSW north coast and launched her homewares and stationery label Beneath The Sun. Inspired by the warmth and beauty of her surrounds, from the ocean to the rolling valleys in the hinterland, Leah couldn't be happier spending her days in her home studio where she continues to work as a graphic designer, brand consultant and prolific artist - she even makes her own pottery. Popping up at design markets and regularly featured in interior magazines, it seems everyone loves Leah's array of sunshine. For further insight checkout her blog.
How would you describe yourself?
Adventurous, inquiring, fun, happy, determined.

What was your childhood dream?
To own the local lolly shop with my best friend, we started saving in an ice-cream container we buried in the backyard.

What led you down your current path?
Painting was my sole obsession which lead me to study Fine Arts here in Northern NSW. I finished art school and took off to Melbourne to get amongst a thriving design and art scene. I loved it and went back for more study in screen printing then graphic arts. I was lucky enough to get a job with Beci Orpin while still a student, she was the number one person I had dreamed of working with. I had six amazing years with her in the studio then last year I moved back up here to the Tweed Valley to launch my own label and work in freelance design. It's been the best decision I've made.

What do you love most about what you do?
I love seeking inspiration in the beautiful area I live, constantly dreaming up new designs and artworks and having the freedom to be able to make things from a home based studio. I also love that makers and crafts people are easily accessible to get most of my products made locally.

Where do you seek inspiration?
Definitely my local environment but also from my big collection of second hand books on 60s and 70s graphics, crafts and children's illustrated books. I have a collection of Eastern European kids books I always refer back to for inspiration, the colours and textures are so unique. I am always exploring the internet, reading and looking at a million blogs, these open my world up to something much bigger than the quiet hills I live in.

Who do you admire?
Too many! I really admire my old boss Beci for showing me it's possible to achieve a creative career as well as having kids (not that I have any yet but she proves it can be done successfully!) I'm pretty excited by the good things that are happening locally. There are great artists/makers that live in the area and it has really helped to adjust from living in Melbourne to a small coastal community. I admire their ability to get their stuff out there to a wider audience and not feel like they need to live in the city to do it.

What challenges have you had to overcome?
It has been a steep learning curve starting my own business. I learn't a lot working in a design studio for years but I never really knew much about the business side. For a creative person it is tricky to get your head around that side of running a label. I have chosen to do most things on my own so I know exactly what is going on, it is very time consuming but rewarding.
What's been a 'pinch yourself' moment?
There have been quite a few in the first year of Beneath The Sun. Probably my first big one was opening the pages of Inside Out magazine and seeing my products in there and getting emails from artists/designers I love, complementing my work.

What are your top creative resources?
1. Graphis annual books (particularly late 60s).
2. My collection of illustrated children's books.
4. Architecture and interiors books/magazines.

What dream do you still want to fulfil?
Owning some land in this area and hosting mini festivals on it I get to decorate.

What's next?
Designing the new collection and launching my folio site.

When the weekend rolls around what do you love to:
Read - magazines: Apartmento, Plant Journal, Inside Out, Vogue Living, Elle Decoration
Watch- a good movie on a Sunday afternoon.
Cook- a bbq at the beach.
Create- fun with friends!
Listen to- Broken Bells, Real Estate, Neil Young.
Dream about- the night ahead probably spent around the fire on a friend's property.
Look forward to- lazy Sundays.