Lydia Duncan creates romantic wallpaper and fabrics inspired by her rural Devonshire dwellings. Duncan’s use of rich hues and swirling natural foliage enhance her detailed prints and lino cuts to create beautiful soft furnishings and wall coverings.
What is your studio name and location?
My studio, Candyland Studios The Gallery, is located halfway down the cobbles in the beautiful seaside village of Clovelly, North Devon.
Where did you study?
Plymouth College of Art and Breton Hall
Describe your design process
My designs are inspired by the pattern and colours found within nature. Often my best ideas come from a walk in the woods or on the coast path, taking photos and sketches along the way. Once back in the studio, I put the elements of the design together, usually working in acrylic paint on canvas, painting the design in the repeat, placing the images together in a way that I feel works. When I have painted the design, I then take photos and upload onto the Fashion Formula website and experiment with the pattern. I also work in the same way when working with Lino Block designs. For me, it’s about mixing traditional with modern techniques.
What is your favourite part of the design process from inspiration, drawing to the final printed fabric/product?
My favourite part of the design process is the initial spark of an idea. At this point you are never entirely sure if it will work, but the design is full of exciting possibilities. Also, I love the printing process; it’s so exciting and satisfying when a print design is revealed for the first time.
Who do you design for? Who is your muse?
I design for myself and become immersed in the creative process and think it is inherent in my nature to make! When people like my work too, that is a wonderful thing. The natural world is my muse and all that beautiful and magical within it. Plant life, insects and animals all feature heavily in my designs.
What first sparked your interest in print design?
When I first moved to the countryside from London as a child, my mum would take me out sketching and painting. It was there that my obsession for colour and pattern began, painting butterflies and wild flowers. The natural progression seemed to be print design.
Describe your style in 10 words
Organic, colourful, botanical, symbolic, fine art, landscape, fauna, realism, arts and crafts, print.
What is your favourite medium to work in and why?
Acrylic and Lino Block. Acrylic is rich and vibrant and represents the colours in nature perfectly and allows me to create very detailed designs. Lino block is completely different, with 3 stages, design, carve and print for my more simple images.
What / who are your major influences?
The Arts and Crafts movement probably inspires me the most artistically. William Morris is one of my favourite designers of all time. He captured the natural world perfectly with his plant and animal designs, represented effortlessly in graceful repeat patterns on wallpapers and textiles.
What has been your career highlight so far?
The highlight of my career so far has to be the opening of my Studio and Gallery in Clovelly, building up a client base from there.
Your biggest challenge you have faced as a designer
My biggest challenge as a designer has been getting my work out there and selling it in the right places. It’s hard to sell yourself as an independent designer, as you will always be focusing on the designs and artwork rather than pushing the media side of it. Competing with the low prices of the big brands is also tricky, as you can’t make it as cheaply which makes it very competitive.
Best exhibition/museum/research trip/inspirational place
The outdoors is my most favourite place to be when I’m not in the studio, collecting and fueling up with inspiration and ideas. In particular, the beautiful North Devon coast, walking along the harbour in Clovelly where I can tune in to nature and focus on my forthcoming projects.
Favourite music when designing
When I’m working in the studio, I tend to listen to shuffle so I can get a mix of different musical atmospheres. Although my favourite at the moment is my Hip Hop mix as I can dance whilst I work!
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a series of Lino Block prints at the moment, depicting animals, flora, fauna and magic found throughout the seasons of the year. These designs will progress to fabric and wallpaper.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I would like to continue on in my beautiful little gallery, but maybe open another branch to this, selling my fabrics and wallpaper designs in a bigger shop.
Do you have any tips for new designers starting out?
Keep working and experimenting and don’t be afraid to fail; not everyone will like your work but don’t let that put you off. Look around you, the world is full of exciting colour and pattern. Not all designs work, but just enjoy the organic design process. Make your inspiration what you know and love and then you will never fail to enjoy your work. Network on sites like Instagram, where you can interact with other creatives and potential customers and spark ideas.
You can purchase Lydia’s beautiful prints over at her Fashion Formula store