I looooovvvvvveeeeee Ellen's work and was absolutely delighted when she agreed to produce an exclusive set of original paper cuts for us!
I first spotted her work on Print & Pattern and was immediately drawn to the stunning colour pallet she uses and the simply exquisite patterns.
Ellen is a New Zealand based designer and as our officially furthest away artist we thought it was about time we celebrated that fact with an interview... so here we go!
BB: Can you tell us a little bit about your career to date, what you have been working on, whom for and who with?
EG: My gosh! I've done so many things I worked as an art director for an agency when I finished Design school( I was awarded a Diploma with Distinction) I realized early on that I liked working freelance so I continued designing and illustrating for a few years working on packaging, book illustration and advertising. I began a sideline in t-shirt design and created a company Giggenbach Designs, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories featuring my prints. I decided to downscale after the birth of the first of my 2 boys. I started working from home again developing hand crafted products such as mosaics( I create them by embedding all sorts of materials into fine concrete thus avoiding hafting to grout) and vintage fabric products i.e. bags and cushions. They have sold very well throughout New Zealand. I have however recently decided to focus on my real passion of illustrating. Last year I created a range of bags etc (these are featured on my web site www.elleng.co.nz) and at the beginning of this year I was an approached by a company in Australia "Lantern Studios" to develop a large range of products with them. It will be launched early next year, everything from stationery to home ware and bags.
I have also created greetings cards for Lagom and Galison. I have also just completed an organic cotton fabric design for Fehlfarben in Berlin.
I am presently completing a piece of work for a local Art exhibition.
BB: Can you tell us a little about the process in which you
work, how an idea is first born and how it then develops into a finished design?
EG: I have always been drawn to cut paper because I like the flexibility of changing the composition and colours and this process allows it. I also love the fluidity of cut lines.
They look clean and crisp without looking too perfect.
It is important to me that each piece I cut (I use a scalpel) is a beautiful shape on its own.
I also enjoy painting the paper in an endless variety of shades, this allows me to use just the right hue which can either make or break a design.
My inspiration often comes from 1950's children's books and home ware's, such as ceramics and fabrics.
BB: How do your family's German routes creep into & inspire your work?
EG: Although I have lived in New Zealand most of my life (I was born in Bavaria, Germany and I lived in Vienna for 3 years in my late teens) I grew up in a very crafty family. My mother is a seamstress and my Dad who, although he was a geo chemist, loved to carve, make furniture and paint. We also celebrated Christmas, Easter etc in traditional German style. I guess those lovely family times have stayed with me.
New Zealand art has a very strong pacific feel which I don't really identify with.
BB: Which other designers, artists, illustrators inspire you?
EG: I am passionate about the 1950's and I collect tins, fabric and china from that era.
I love the light-hearted ness, quirky ideas, graphic shapes and offbeat colours of that era.
BB: Which website do you revisit the most?
EG: Print and pattern. Living at the bottom of the world, it's great to be able to see what is going on the other side! And that we are no longer behind the times here.
BB: Are there any clients, companies out there who you would love an opportunity to work with?
EG: Gosh yes! IKEA and other iconic retail companies, Greeting card, fabric home ware producers.
BB: Are there any formats, materials, techniques that you have not yet played with and would like to?
EG: I am resistant to working on the computer because I love the feel of paper and crafting but I know it would be good, especially when I am asked to create repeat patterns!
BB: What is your workspace like?
EG: I don't have one!
It's the dining room table!
I simply tidy it up at the end of every day ready for it to be set for dinner!
BB: If you could have been asked any question in this interview what would it have been? And what would have been your answer?
EG: Where do you see yourself in a couple of year's time?
I would love to have my own retail outlets selling a verity of products from stationery, home ware and clothes all featuring my prints, a bit like Orla Kiely.
It will have a very unique and distinctive look a mix of folk and 1950's quirkiness.