Lily Reilly is an Irish girl currently living in Berlin. Her high school German is a bit rusty, but she’s working on it. And this very recent move to Germany was for love – an adventure brought about by her partner of 6 years getting a job there. It’s been a good move. “Berlin is a great place to be as far as art is concerned – it’s known to be a design mecca and it has really lived up to our expectations.”
Lily has managed to carve out a happy working space here. “I have a huge white table with lots of pots of beautiful pens and a big pinboard with artwork and cards from friends up on the wall. And I managed to bring my beautiful hot pink work lamp and piles of my favourite pattern design books with me.”
Her surface designs have a lovely graphic quality to it, delicate and textured, which has emerges quite naturally from her favoured working method. “I draw on paper, using rapidograph or other thinly nibbed pens. The style is organic and flows and I draw it bit by bit. The subject matter of the patterns I design is primarily quite feminine – I love to work with florals, hearts and other positive imagery that I hope will make the world a prettier place.” And although her method of drawing prompts the name ‘Petal to Petal’, she says she came to it as a business name also in part because her boyfriend sometimes calls her Petal, and it all just seemed to fit.
She always has several projects in the pipeline. “Things come to me and I write them in the notebook I carry with me everywhere! I usually think of things that would naturally stem from my style, instead of trying to fit my style into something that it doesn’t suit. I think that it is so important to stay true to yourself, regardless of what you are doing.” Once she is happy with her drawing, she scans it in and works on it in Illustrator and Photoshop. “I don’t think that my style suits vector work and I like to keep it as hand drawn as possible.”
First studying Design Communication and then training as an Art and Design teacher at Crawford College of Art and Design in her hometown of Cork City in Ireland, she said that “Soon after I started studying, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and began exhibiting and selling my artwork. I loved teaching but wanted to focus on my own work. My knowledge in Graphic Design has helped a lot, especially with the Adobe Suite.” Then, in 2012 she studied Rachael Taylor’s online course ‘The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design’, and this has been great for honing skills and moving her forward.
She admires some iconic designers, and with good reason. “As far back as I can remember, I have always been drawn to detail and when I was 11 years old a family friend introduced me to the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. His work has had a huge influence on me and from there I found out about other artists such as William Morris. I loved the whole ethos of the Arts and Crafts Movement.”
“A quote by William Morris really stuck with me- “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. ” It just made so much sense to me. And isn’t that the aim of a Surface Pattern Designer- to make the world a more beautiful place?”
“There are so many wonderful artists and designers out there today. I love the work of the papercut artist Rob Ryan and I love the Illustrator Claire Scully’s beautifully detailed and intricate artwork. Their work is wonderful, demonstrating their skill, talent and dedication.”
I asked her what had been the hardest thing for her as a designer. “Believing in myself. I think that it’s a hard thing to do. It is difficult to know if what you’re doing is good and I find it impossible to judge my own work.” Positive feedback has been a great help in this regard, “It’s a great feeling to know that people love your work enough to want to own it or buy it for someone”, but she is also just as appreciative of the lovely comments people leave on her Facebook page and blog.