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August's featured Designer: Caron Andrews

Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be an illustrator/surface pattern designer. Hello, my name is Caron and I'm based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I'm a full-time art teacher and part-time artist. I’ve always loved art and have been creative since I was a little girl. Having a full time teaching job left me very little time to do any of my own art, and then Covid hit and we were sent home to teach online! During the Covid lockdown in March 2020, when I wasn’t making teaching videos for my classes, I began painting small watercolour artworks with inspirational quotes to uplift those around me during a challenging time. I loved being able to create again! The positive feedback I received from family, friends, colleagues, and complete strangers from all over the world encouraged me to produce my first product, the "Tropical Vibes" Inspirational Quote Card sets. Since then, my business has grown, and I've been delighted to create a range of unique products from my artwork. Last year I came across Bonnie Christine who has become a huge inspiration to me and as I’ve continued on this journey, I’ve been like a sponge…constantly wanting to learn about the amazing world of surface pattern design. I’ve still got so much to learn, but am just loving every minute of it!

What influences your art the most? My early childhood was in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. I was very close to my grandparents who had a beautiful garden filled with an incredible selection of tropical plants…orchids and anthuriums, strelitzias, and agapanthus. I spent a lot of my time with them….they taught me a lot of what I know today and I believe my love for flowers came from them. I paint mostly flowers and plants as I get such joy from them! As Frida Khalo once said: “I paint flowers so they will not die.” South Africa is a beautiful country and we are so lucky to have an abundance of nature on our doorstep….there is inspiration wherever I look!

What mediums do you use to create your art?

I paint mainly in watercolours, but also enjoy acrylics. My husband gave me an ipencil for Christmas, so I am teaching myself to create digital artwork too.

Your style of artwork leans toward more realistic illustration. Does your style of artwork lend itself to any particular area of surface design?

Up to this point in my “side hustle”, I have been trying lots of different products - weekly planners, calendars, gift tags, shopping bags, table runners, tea towels etc. It’s been quite a mixed bag! However I have had a huge amount of success with my disposable paper placemats, my shopping bags and my fabric collection. I think ultimately, I would love to be more niche in the homeware and interior design side of things, as I think my artwork works well on fabric and I can see it working for wall paper too. At this stage I am open to trying different products and saying “yes” to any opportunities as you never know where something will lead!

You have licensed your artwork with a few companies and also worked as an illustrator. Were you able to secure these opportunities on your own or do you work with an agent? I don’t have an agent. I’ve secured these independently.

Do you have a favorite project you've worked on or a favorite company you have worked with?  A friend of mine, who owns Caversham Textiles , collaborated with me and ultimately ended up licensing my artwork on what I called “The Harvest Collection”. It is based on my watercolour artwork of artichokes, pomegranates and figs and together with Caversham’s textile expertise produced a beautiful fabric range, as well as making table runners, napkins and tea towels. To compliment the tableware, I designed a set of disposable paper placemats in a tear off book. It’s probably the product I’m most proud of.

You also produce your own printed items for sale. Do you feel it's easier to license artwork to companies or manufacture and sell your own product line?

That’s a tricky question, as yes, it is easier to license your work, and the workload, cost, and risk is obviously lower. I love the variety that comes with licensing as you never know what creative challenge is up next!

I do find manufacturing my own products really rewarding though. Even though it’s hard work, I have more control over the sales and marketing, and I get enormous satisfaction dealing directly with my customers and seeing their reaction to my products. I don’t mind working hard and, taking a bit of a risk has always been a part of who I am. I would have to say that a combination of both is good for me!

Do you have any dream companies you'd like to work with in the near future?

I would love to work with some homeware and interior design companies. I’ve yet to break into the South African market (Woolworths, @Home, Mr.Price Home, YuppieChef to name a few) If I were to really dream big and dream of companies outside of South Africa, I would love to work with the likes of Target, Zoffany, Marks & Spencer, IKEA, Habitat, and H&M.

What's next for you in your artistic endeavors?

I want to produce more fabric ranges based on some of my floral designs (Waratah protea, agapanthus and possibly pin cushion) and begin to develop cohesive tableware and homeware ranges. I would love to see some of my designs on wallpaper too!

Ultimately, my aim is to move out of teaching and be doing surface pattern design full time by the end of 2025.

Right now I’m learning as much as I can, saying “yes” to everything and am loving the journey!

I am excited to see what comes next!


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