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Meet July's Featured Designers: Maureen Flynn and Nicole Shorthouse of Finchley Designs

Maureen Flynn

Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be a surface designer.

  I worked in-house for a small art house as a senior brand designer for many years pre-Covid. I was attuned to developing unique collections for both stationery and lifestyle markets. When Covid hit, I proactively took steps to build my own brand, as I already had the tools and know-how to take those first scary steps out on my own. I enlisted the right people to guide me as I shaped my brand.

Who or what influences your art?

  I'm always drawn to the masters of modern art for inspiration - Warhol, Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, and Cezanne.  But what REALLY influences my art is nature; the birds and their song, the many houseplants that I care for, and the flowers that my husband brings me (without fail) on Saturday mornings.

What mediums do you use to create your art?

  I create both digitally and by hand - using watercolor and inks. Many times when I don't want the mess I use Photoshop and Procreate. As a side note, I have a 2025 calendar coming to market in late summer, a co-collaboration of sorts between me and Bob Dylan!!! His lyrics for each 13 illustrations were hand-lettered by me and those lyrics inspired each illustration in a very special way. The entire calendar was created digitally with a combination of Photoshop, Procreate, and Illustrator.

Your work has been licensed by Calypso and Brown Trout Publishing. Can you tell us about how you got started licensing your work and how you found these companies?

  Fortunately, I was able to assemble the right people in my professional life to put me in touch with other “right people” who were looking to license original, emotive art such as mine. Both Calypso Cards and Brown Trout Publishing are two such companies that have been so important in shaping the trajectory of my path as an independent artist/designer, I'm so very grateful to them both! 

Do you feel stationery is what best suits your dreamy, painterly style of artwork? Are you looking to expand into other niches or are you staying focused on stationery?

  Stationery is a niche I'm very familiar with as I've designed collections for American Greetings, UK Greetings, and Papyrus while in-house. I'm beginning to reach out to tabletop companies (such as Lenox, who I've worked with), fabric, housewares, and gift manufacturers. I'm custom-creating collections and pitches for those markets, and, thankfully,  I'm never at a loss for ideas!

Do you work with an agent or do you approach companies on your own?

  I work with a phenomenal agent, Heidi Packer, Co-Founder of World Alliance Group, who has brought the most amazing projects and companies to me, I could not have done it without her and her team! I would absolutely recommend working with an agent, doing so gives the artist/designer time to be creative while the agent pairs you with the best licensors and dream clients who match your style/brand.

Would you like to share any advice you have for designers who are considering pitching their portfolios to companies?

  My advice to designers pitching to companies is to really know your markets; do the research, provide the art that best aligns with their brand, be concise and organized in your presentations, and make sure the resolution of your pdf/jpg is clear and up to industry standards.

What's next for you in your artistic endeavors? Are there any other companies or designers you would like to collaborate with?

  What’s next? I’d love to see my designs on tabletop, bedding, wall decor and wallpaper, fabrics used by fashion brands… The sky’s the limit!




Nicole Shorthouse

Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be a surface designer.

  I studied art at NYU and have been an art teacher for over 20 years now.  I have always loved patterns and designs.  I also love printmaking.  During the pandemic, I took a surface pattern design course and just fell in love with making patterns.  I wanted to incorporate printmaking into my designs but first started drawing using Procreate.  Recently I started incorporating printmaking into my surface design work. 

Who or what influences your art?

  Lots of things influence my art - nature, animals, abstract shapes but the biggest 'idea' that influences my work is the beauty and joy in everyday objects and things. Sometimes I'll look at something like a coffee mug or a flower vase and realize how cool it looks and how the little, everyday things bring so much joy.

What mediums do you use to create your art?

  To create my art, I draw, print lino and stamps, paint, and draw using Procreate.  I love trying different techniques to create art.  Recently I have started to create my drawings into stamps and prints. 

You have a busy Spoonflower shop.  Tell us about your time on Spoonflower.

  I have had my Spoonflower shop for about 3 years now.  It was definitely a slow start.  I currently have over 600 designs on Spoonflower - lots of flowers, abstract shapes, and animals. 

You are also an art educator.  Tell us about that.

  I have been teaching art in high school for over 20 years now.  It's been fun and has allowed me to live in Japan, London, and here in Los Angeles.  Working with students in art has been a great honor of mine - teens are so creative and are mostly really open to the creative process.  Time goes by so quickly when I'm working with students.  During the pandemic, I started to think about my own creative process and started doing art for myself.  I have always loved patterns and looking at fabrics/designs.  So, I took a surface pattern design course and couldn't stop.  It was so much fun!  Having a creative outlet has been invigorating for me!

You have an upcoming line of fabrics with Felicity Fabrics.  Tell us how that came about.

  The creative director of Felicity Fabrics contacted me.  She found me through Instagram.  I have been putting up my designs on Instagram for 3 years now.  I also have been contacting art directors and companies occasionally (been using my directory from Surface Design News!). My collection, Summer Burst, is out now for their summer season.

Do you work with an agent or do you approach companies on your own?

  I approach companies on my own.  I don't do it as regularly as I should, but I have been using your directory and contacting stationary and fabric companies.  I would like to work with an agent but I think that I need to make more well-rounded collections.

Would you like to share any advice you have for designers who are trying to increase their sales on Spoonflower?

  Keep creating and keep putting your awesome designs onto Spoonflower. 

What's next for you in your artistic endeavors? Are there any other companies or designers you would like to collaborate with?

  Currently, I am creating stamps/prints out of my designs and making art prints and totes with them.  I am also turning the stamps/prints into new designs for fabric and wallpaper (Spoonflower).  I am really trying to come up with a creative, fun, and sustainable artistic process. 

  I would love to work with Liberty, Anthropologie, Target, and Crate and Barrel.  I'm open to collaboration with lots of companies and designers!

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