indie art & design blog

feature interview: umbrella prints

Monday, March 30, 2009 | by Carolyn Price

Buttons & fabric by Umbrella Prints

We're thrilled to tell you that the second issue of Peppermint Magazine is now available!! (Lots of pics coming soon...) On p82 is "breaking the pattern" - our indie art & design interview with Umbrella Prints. This design duo are from South Australia and they create vibrant hand screen printed patterns on organic fabrics. They've also collaborated with a number of other designers to produce jewellery, quilts & more... The full interview with designers Amy Prior & Carly Schwerdt is below - hope you enjoy it!

I 1. How did you find each other & then form the Umbrella Prints partnership?

UP We both have young daughters, drive old holdens, studied art and design, love colour and pattern - it was inevitable really! No seriously, we were both running businesses next door to each other and became great friends.

Umbrella Prints studio

I 2. What are your favourite making processes or Umbrella Prints designs/products?

UP All Umbrella Prints designs come from first sketching and our love of art, we take from our own artwork and design from there. For example a beautiful garden scape by Amy will have a little flower hidden amongst the folliage and we will play with that. It is a process of discovery through our own art. We invest a lot of time into this design process, what we do is unusual and very deliberate, we concentrate on really exploring the potential within each design instead of churning out product.

Elephant Brooch by Umbrella Prints

I 3. Do you have individual specialities, or are you both involved in every step?

UP We appreciate each other's own individual style so much so that we don't need to box ourselves into roles. We are very lucky to work so well together, it sounds corny but we are like Ying and Yang.

Fabric by Umbrella Prints

I 4. How does your approach enable your label to be environmentally friendly?

UP At all levels of running Umbrella Prints we are always striving to find better ways of doing things, from the postconsumer waste paper we print our stationary on, to the durable 100% organic hemp/cotton base cloth we print on. Making a product that lasts is important and using every last scrap means less waste.

Quilts by Umbrella Prints

I 5. Tell us about your Tandem collaborations!

UP An umbrella is a symbol for bringing people together and we use the word 'Tandem' because it describes two entities propelling each other forward. So far we have collaborated with crafter Brooke of Boobook, quilter Jenny from Ciuccio, San Francisco & silversmith Ceeb Wassermann. We look forward to working with many other artists, designers and crafters.

Parade silver elephant jewellery by Umbrella Prints

I 6. You're both mums and Carly – you also run Nest Studio art classes for children. Do you find inspiration in the works created by such little hands?

UP Children are by far the most creative people. They are intuitive and they work free of judgment, something we can all only hope to achieve.

Products by Umbrella Prints

I 7. Where else do you both find inspiration?

UP Inspiration is everywhere.

Fabric rolls by Umbrella Prints

I 8. You've had the opportunity to contribute to a number of craft books – have you had a great response?

UP The books, Meet Me at Mikes and Quilts Baby! which showcase our fabric by way of Carly's crafty sewing patterns, are available in March. They already look fantastic based on the covers alone so one can only imagine they will be a success.

Silver pendant by Umbrella Prints

I 9. Have you exhibited your work, either individually or as Umbrella Prints?

UP Yes, we have both exhibited as artists, Amy with her most recent show 'Papercuts'. Umbrella Prints has exhibited for 'Modern Australian Textiles' alongside Publisher Textiles, Nicola Cerini and many other Australian Designers.

Hand screen printed fabric by Umbrella Prints

I 10. You obviously enjoy working as partners. Is it difficult to keep the balance right or does everything just fall into place?

UP If we fight it's because 'my ego's bigger than yours!'

Buttons by Umbrella Prints

I 11. Do you keep in touch with fellow creative types via your blogs (Rain & Shine - http://umbrellabella.blogspot.com & Moopy & Me - http://www.neststudio.typepad.com)? What are some of your favourite blogland reads?

UP We have both met some amazing people via our blogs. We love so many but here is just a taste : Julie of Four Leaves, Amanda of SouleMama, Claire of Loobylu, Hillary of Weewonderfuls and Pip of Meet Me at Mikes. Check our blog rolls for more!

Wall brooch & fabrics by Umbrella Prints

I 12. Where is Umbrella Prints next headed?

UP Umbrella Prints is very fluid and we like to let our insprirations lead, that being said the essence of Umbrella Prints is always about beautiful pattern. For now though, our next print run is well and truely underway, new colours, new pattern and we have also been creating many lovely wooden objects, such as wall brooches and mobiles.

Thank you so much Amy & Carly for this insight into your design practice! We'll be looking forward to seeing much more from Umbrella Prints!

You'll find Amy & Carly online at:
Umbrella Prints
Amy's blog Rain & Shine
Carly's blog Moopy & Me
Nest Studio - art classes for children
Umbrella Prints' Etsy shop
Umbrella Prints' Big Cartel shop
and their fabrics & products can be found at the following stockists:
SA: Ikeguchi Creative Life (Adelaide), Little Bird at Elliot (Port Elliot)
ONLINE: Mid Century Modern
INTERNATIONAL: Rose and Radish - San Francisco

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