Featured Artist: Natalie Cardew

Founder of Wonder & Rah

On her work’s past, present and future.

Artwork: Wonder & Rah

PAST

Drawing and painting was a huge part of my childhood.  Growing up as the daughter of an art teacher, creativity was part of every day life. We visited galleries, I would tag along on my mum’s school trips (that’s how I saw the amazing sensations at the tate) and we would draw and design on pretty much anything we could get our hands on.  At the time it involved a lot of dodgy fashion designs my mum would then try to teach us to make – I was never very gifted in that department!
Interior design was also something I was fascinated by, again led by my mum.  I constantly updated my room, tackling various DIY projects, sticking fake fur on top of tables and cutting shapes out of leopard print wrapping paper to stick on the walls, mum even let me paint a mural above my bed, risky I know!
I did an art foundation after A-levels and went onto study Graphic design at uni, later switching to illustration.  After loving so many aspects of art and design over the years I struggled to find my niche, I felt pressure as an illustrator to deliver a consistent style, but I much preferred to change styles and trends depending on the project.  Probably the most consistent theme was pattern though, I’ve always been a huge fan of pattern.
The disillusion I was feeling about carving out a career in design mean that I switched focus completely, I decided I might be better suited to work in fashion/retail and spent 12 years working towards my final position as Senior Merchandiser at Kurt Geiger.  A very analytical roll which I enjoyed but left little to no time for creativity and my creative past times became a distant memory.

Artwork: Wonder & Rah

PRESENT

I started W&R nearly a year ago.  After having my son Leo I returned to work and really struggled, its not a part time job even though I was desperate to make it one so after having my daughter Robyn less than 2 years later, I decided to take some time out.  Childcare being what it costs in London, the financial implications of me not working were minimal.  When Robyn turned one and a half I was ready for a challenge and really craving something to do that was entirely mine, alongside looking after the kids who were both a long time way from starting school.  I wanted to get creating again and for the first time in a long time felt the confidence to just try it.  The fear of judgement was still huge but becoming a mum definitely made me braver and more determined.  My first idea was to create Initial art, I did a variety of designs but bottled it at the last minute and decided to work on some children’s poster designs instead.  My main ambition was to create artwork for kids that was less twee/more design led and suited family spaces as well as nurseries.  I worked on my first collection of 20 prints which I launched on Etsy in April 2016.  Since then the hobby has become a small business, joining not on the high street then growing into its own webshop.  When Liberty approached me to stock some of my work it was a huge moment for me.  Recognition I never would have dreamed of!
My style is born out of the practicalities of looking after 2 children with little childcare.  After struggling to finish any full paintings I decided to work more on painting textures using a variety of media like inks, watercolours and acrylics, then collaging and manipulating them in photoshop – that way I could stop and start whenever I needed too.  I love the depth and quality you get from original artwork so it was always going to start on paper.

Artwork: Wonder & Rah

FUTURE

Allthough I’m a big planner in my personal life I am very much seeing where the tide takes me with W&R.  I’m very aware that Leo starts school this year and whilst I feel a pressure to keep growing and expand the business I know I will have plenty of time for that when the kids are at school.  That said I’m a bit of a workaholic naturally (thats years working in retail for you) so my autopilot is to squeeze as much in as possible and say yes to everything.
The process of working creatively has brought me so much joy I’m keen to keep moving forward, keep growing, keep experimenting.

To see more of Natalie’s work visit Wonder & Rah

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Featured Artist : Bonnie Doman

On her work’s past, present and future

PAST: I did a one year foundation course in Art at Kingston College and from there I went on to do a degree in Visual Communication at Camberwell College of Art. We all left with no real skills to speak of (there was only one computer between all of us)  but we did leave with the ability to think sideways about things which proved very useful when I landed a job in Advertising with my twin sister shortly afterwards. We worked as a creative team ( I was the Art Director, she was the writer) for 12 years working on all sorts of campaigns for big brands like Mars, Sainsbury’s and Volvo. It’s was a very fun, crazy time but also incredibly stressful and once I had my first child I just couldn’t see how I could make both work, having a family and working the hours I used to do. Once my second child was born I knew I’d made the right choice not going back.
 
PRESENT: I now mainly work with Advertising Production Companies along side their Directors helping put together their visual ideas for TV commercials. I do image research, put together visuals in Photoshop and use my illustration and photography skills. It’s very full on but for only a few days at a time. As I’m freelance I can also work on my own projects, like illustration. I’m very lucky that every job I do is different. I’ve just launched a range of alternative valentines postcards with my sister, well they are not just for valentines but for love anytime and for anyone who’s partner spends too much time on social media. Our husbands say they are a bit autobiographical!
 
FUTURE:I’d love to do more illustration work. I don’t really have a style as I tend to go with what fits the brief the best. I used to draw pet portraits on to ceramic plates, for example, they were hugely popular. I would like to get better at using Illustrator but then again I like just being able to pick up a pencil and sketch something. I’m talking with a few shops to stock the cards I’ve produced with my sister which is great and I’d like to make more things with her. I would like to work on more collaborations actually as it can be very lonely working by yourself all day. I’d like to get a puppy to keep me company but I’m terrified it will be like having a third child or I won’t get any work done I’ll just spend all day drawing it!… if it sat still long enough.
To see more of Bonnie’s work visit www.bonniedoman.com
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Featured Artist : Laxmi Hussain

On her work’s past, present and future 

Past

I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember…one of my earliest memories being recognised for my art was when I won a prize for a Christmas card design where they loved how innovative my design was.
I’d used a sheet of the mathematics paper, the ones which have grids of shapes (this one was triangles) and created a reindeer and star out of triangles – I was invited to City Hall in the middle of Victoria to be awarded – quite cute looking back on it.
I can’t remember not ever being creative, when I was younger I would paint elaborate birthday cards for friends in watercolour, making handmade envelopes. I’d also often paint small canvases for friends and family as birthday gifts.
Growing up though I always thought I was going to be a…..surgeon – Lets just say my dreams were crushed one day as a young girl by surgeon who took a look at my hands and told me I didn’t possess a surgeon’s hands! Imagine that….
Whilst I always had an academic head, I never stopped pursuing my creative endeavours, looking back on it, my passions shone brightly through in my art.
I excelled in sciences and maths but I was also amongst 3 students to have the largest allocated art space at the end of year shows in both textiles and fine art.
Crushed I wasn’t meant for surgery, I chose to study architecture. My parents always encouraged us to pursue academic paths so Architecture seemed to be the perfect balance.
Whilst I loved studying the subject there were always constraints and being an artist provides a freedom like no other – so long story short, I graduated and then decided I was going to get a job until I decided what I wanted to really pursue.
I’d not really drawn in the years after graduating and between having Zain I did what many young graduates do, travelled a bit, went out drinking a lot, fell in and out of love, or lust.
When I found out I was pregnant with Zain, a lot of that changed, I calmed, slowed down, enjoyed a new life and when he arrived….something else entirely!

Nothing can quite prepare you for the whirlwind of love and fatigue and worry and overwhelming emotions that sweep you up and change your very bones.

Whilst my work today doesn’t directly show many connections to motherhood, every stroke, every line, every ink blot is only because of motherhood.
It is because of Zain I started drawing again, to do something with him and also to show him there was more to me and now that inspires me to keep showing both my kids that you can be whoever you want to be.

Present

 

Personally, a lot of exploration.
I want to stop making art for art’s sake.
I need it to have a personal journey of exploration, I started with my warped idea of the perfect body and have begun a journey of self discovery and acceptance.
Sharing these drawings have helped me to understand that the perfect body does not exist and is starting to change my perception of myself, the most endearing thing is that others have wanted to dip in to this, shared my drawings, interpret them in their own way….
I’ve also had the opportunity to be approached by a few brands, old clients, and new clients asking me to work on their branding.
Whilst I’ve worked in branding and curation for some years, I’ve never really thought of this as a talent, more a skill, but practicing skills that you are good at can be so rewarding.

Future

I’m coming to a halt on the exploration of my own body and I think I want to understand bodies in a different way.
What do I not appreciate that I should?
What do we refuse to acknowledge?
If I re-engage with my inner woman, can I educate others on real world issues which are harder to address?
Three years ago I was asked to contribute to RoadFemme, a Zine a friend of mine started covering all walks of women’s issues from a humanitarian aspect.
I for some reason had stumbled across a documentary on female genital mutilation and decided I somehow had to contribute a piece on this topic, my drawing was of a young girl lying down, tear in her eye, with the words above her ‘Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.’
I have this idea in my head, that I can somehow connect our own feelings about the things we do not talk about to appreciate these things in a new way and maybe then, we might be on our way to helping address some of these issues…
To see more of Laxmi’s work visit www.thislakshmi.com
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