{the interview series} Leah Duncan

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Hoje a nossa convidada é uma ilustradora que gosta de ver a sua arte transportada para peças de uso diário como almofadas ou panos de cozinha, transformando o que podia ser um objecto comum numa obra de arte. Leah tem um estilo muito particular, dividido entre elementos geométricos, formas fluídas e representações dos animais de que tanto gosta, criando um universo onde coexistem tons suaves e intensos.
Apresento-vos: Leah Duncan.

[Este post pertence à rubrica semanal {the interview series}, onde publico uma nova entrevista todas as quartas-feiras, com artistas e bloggers inspiradores que admiro, de acordo com o espírito handmade e um estilo de vida criativo. Tornem-se fãs no facebook e não percam nada!
Por motivos óbvios de extensão e compreensão do texto, tanto pelos entrevistados como pelos potenciais leitores do resto do mundo, a entrevista segue em inglês.]

Today our guest is an illustrator who likes to see her art transported to daily use objects as pillows or tea towels, turning what could be a common object into a work of art. Leah has a very particular style, split between geometric elements, fluid forms and representations of the animals she likes so much, creating a universe where soft and intense colors coexist . I present to you: Leah Duncan.

[This post belongs to the weekly feature {the interview series} where I publish a new interview every wednesday with inspiring artists and bloggers I admire, according to the spirit of handmade and a creative lifestyle. Become a facebook fan and don't miss a bit!]

Leah Duncan
Austin, Texas, USA
site | blog | shop

1. Let’s pretend we don’t know each other and I’ve never heard about Leah Duncan. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Nice to meet you! I’m Leah and I’m an illustrator, home goods and surface pattern designer. I sell my work online and internationally in small boutiques as well as license my work to companies for commercial goods. I love avocados, sunny weather, and prefer chocolate to almost anything.

2. After working as a graphic designer for advertising firms and screen-printing companies you decided to make a living of your art. How was this creative passion born and how did you manage to take the leap?
I was always a dreamer and a creative mind. The most logical career path for me was in graphic design, but at the end of the day I found myself in need of something “more”. I knew that in order to be happy I needed to be the one in charge of how, when, and why I create. My husband and I moved to Austin 3 years ago and I started to draw and sell my work on etsy. I quickly moved into textiles and surface patterns. It’s been an amazing, challenging, and fulfilling journey. Taking the leap was scary, but the very best kind of scary.

3. You work with illustration and pattern. Would you tell us about the mediums you use, including the digital ones?
Everything I do starts on paper with an ink pen. Once a drawing is complete, I scan it into Photoshop to clean it up and then take it into Illustrator to color.

4. Your work wanders between geometry and spontaneity, between feminine beauty and some lovely little beasts. How are these compositions and characters born? What inspires you? Share your creative process with us.
I mostly enjoy sharing small moments in my life. Objects from a walk, characters I dream up from observing wildlife, colors from a stroll around my neighborhood, little narratives inspired by relationships – all influenced by nature in some form. I think all aspects of my work are small pieces of me and my creative process is an attempt at capturing all of those pieces.

5. Tell us now about your pattern work and its many applications, such as pillows, fabrics, scarves and stationery. I really love the tea towels and I think I’d rather hang them on my wall then to dirty them in the kitchen! Do you have a favorite and a best seller? Share them with us.
My pattern work has ended up on pillows, fabrics, scarves, shirts, coasters, table runners, shower curtains, bedding, and many other applications. I really enjoy seeing my work on commercial ends. It’s hard for me to choose a favorite because they’re all like my children, but I do have best sellers such as my outer space tea towel, hills print, and mountains throw pillow cover.

6. You have some great collaborative projects! I really love the ones with Satsuma Press or little paper planes. How these collaborations work? What gives you more pleasure to do along the process?
All of my collaborations are unique and each one brings a different perspective to my work that perhaps I hadn’t explored previously. It’s very fulfilling as an artist to grow day to day and I think learning from your peers is one of the best ways to do so since they sort of push you out of your comfort zone.

7. You have a recognizable style, you’ve participated in exhibitions and are a published artist. What means do you use to promote your work?
Selling my work on etsy has been the single best way to get my work out there. I also do shows from time to time like West Elm Pop up shops and Renegade Craft Fair as well as am starting to do larger tradeshows for art licensing. I’ve also been incredibly lucky to have the right people connect with my work and write about it in blogs and publications.

8. Would you give us a glimpse of your working space? Describe it and tell us what you love most about it.
We converted our second bedroom and one half of our garage into my workspace. The bedroom/office area is where I draw, scan, color, and meet with clients. The garage space is where I play and make a big mess everyday.

9. Would you share with us a regular day at work?
I normally stumble out of bed, eyes half awake, and make coffee. I then stumble down to my studio and check my email for the day as I wake up. Then my day could include fulfilling orders, invoicing, commissions, new pattern work, or new work for my own line with a few dog walks (squirrel hunts) with my dog Oslo in-between. I also sometimes manage to shower and put on a nice dress. :)

10. I recently read your interview at Bloesem: Art in the Home of Leah Duncan and I loved to see a work by Ana Raimundo hanging upon your walls! I’m also a big fan of this Portuguese artist and she was one of the previous interviewees that we had the pleasure to have here. So I got curious: would you share some of your favorite artists with us?
Ana Raimundo is certainly up there in my favorites. I also love Betsy Walton, Camilla Engman, and Michelle Morin of United Thread.

11. Besides creating, what else are you passionate about doing?
Spending time with my husband and dog, eating well, watering my plants, traveling, living life with courage, keeping my toenails painted red… but mostly creating. :)

12. You live in Austin, Texas. Tell us a bit about the place where you live and what you love most about it. Would you like to live anywhere else one day?
Austin is a unique place. I probably enjoy the hike and bike trails the most where I spend a lot of my time. I also adore the Texas landscape. It’s stark, yet so lush and full of life – it’s unlike any other place I’ve been. I’d love to one day live in New York or Spain.

13. If you could live in any historical era of your choice, what would it be? Why?
America in the 1950s. There’s something special about the fashion, style, and seemingly simpler lifestyle of that era.

14. What advices would you give to someone who would also want to become an illustrator?
Prepare to work hard. Have courage. Be nice. Figure out your signature style. Get some good ink pens and be in love with your work.

15. What are your plans for the future? And your most unrealistic dreams?
Realistically I’d like to spend some time traveling and eventually start a family while still managing to keep focus on my career. Somewhat unrealistically, I’d like to have an animal sanctuary for misplaced and homeless creatures. Unrealistically, I’d like to go live in a yurt in the middle of no-where at all.

Now a quick question and answer game so we can find a bit more about you and your tastes! Tell us one:

book: Memoirs of a Geisha
music: Tegan and Sara
movie: The Wizard of Oz
personality/artist: Frida Kahlo
color: Yellow
object: Vase
animal: Coyote
drink: Merlot
food: Pancakes
season of the year: Spring
travel destination: Chile
piece of clothing: Blue dress with white polka dots
secret: I don’t like lentils!

Thank you for sharing your beautiful art with us, Leah!


  1. Ana, ainda nem li a entrevista mas já rejubilei de alegria ao saber da tua convidada. Adoro o trabalho da Leah e é para mim uma referência top do top.
    vou agora ler a entrevista calmamente e muito feliz.

    (sei que te estou a "dever" um café mas ando com os horários trocados, com a situação do meu avô. não estás esquecida)

  2. I smiled a lot reading this interview!
    It's wonderful and inspiring!
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. such a fun and interesting interview! really, really love Leah's work :)

  4. Really interesting and wonderful works!

  5. Thank you so much for introducing Leah to us Ana. I just love her work and the range of her products. So fun!

  6. absolutely amazing work!!!!! thanks Ana! she is wonderful!!!!! :D


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