Appreciating the beauty and uniqueness of nature is at the forefront of Melbourne-based artist and textile designer, Georgie Daphne’s work. She is intrigued by their shapes, forms, colours, textures and patterns that she sees and goes on to create with a range of mediums including ink, watercolour, acrylics, gouache, collage, fountain pen and pencil. The end result is art that percolates strong botanical themes with colour playing a starring role.
Georgie recently took a break from her painting and day-to-day life to speak (over email) with our blog editor, Jacqui Taylor, about becoming a mum second time around, finding windows of time to be creative and pursuing her passion.
Hello Georgie, thanks for taking the time to chat (virtually). Let’s kick things off with yourself. Where did you grow up and where do you live now? Do you think where you have lived has had an influence on your work?
Hi! I grew up in the south west of Western Australia on a farm near Kulikup and in a town called Katanning. I do think that this shaped me into the kind of creative I am now. I was often in the garden somewhere with my pastels and paper drawing my mum’s flowers! Also, on my dad’s farm I would dream about decorating the 100 year old farm house.
When I was 21, I took the train across the Nullarbor to Melbourne to study textile design at RMIT. I knew one person! Nineteen years later I’m still here and loving it. But I do miss WA weather and beaches!
How long have you been an artist/textile designer?
I feel like I’ve been an artist since I was a kid. With textile design, I started my first job out of university in 2008. That is 13 years ago.
Do you have a signature style? Have you always had this style or has it evolved/changed over time?
I was never really sure if I had a signature style until maybe three years ago. But now I think I really do. I am obsessed with bright colours, patterns and rare plants. And as a child I was always drawing and painting plants. It has definitely evolved over time. Thankfully my choice of colours has refined! Hopefully!!
Talk to me about your creative process. Do you have any habits or ‘must dos’?
I either start with a particular colour palette that is inspiring me or a particular plant that is fascinating me. Lately, I’ve been getting lost in a hashtag warren of indoor plants that other people are much better at keeping alive than myself. It’s incredible to see how many different varieties of Begonias there are! I want to paint them all! I start most of my paintings with watercolour or gouache, then acrylic ink over the top to add interesting contrasts.
What practices/decisions are you introducing to your business to be more sustainable?
Most of my prints are printed in small batches and the larger sizes are printed on demand to ensure that I’m only producing what people want. The larger sizes are printed on demand and packaging is kept to a minimum as much as possible.
It has been a challenging time for everyone with a lot of uncertainty. What has changed for you and how have you adapted your work to manage during this time?
Well, two years ago I had my second son. Therefore, my work had slowed down anyway so that I could take a bit of time out to get used to being a mum of two. I paint as much as I can fit in at night. At the start of our second lockdown I decided to commit to doing one new small painting a day during lockdown. It was actually a great way to paint small paintings free of expectations. I would start the paintings during craft time with my four year old. But then I would stay up too late finishing them at night. I got to day 66 and stopped. If I had have kept going I would of had 100 plus paintings by now. I needed to focus the little time I did have on some bigger pieces and a freelance job. But I’m excited about the 66 paintings I do have because I now have some new card designs and lots of ideas for bigger paintings! COVID-19 has been a crappy awful thing this year and we’ve definitely had our struggles. But the silver linings have been amazing so I’ve been trying to focus on those.
When and how did you meet Nerida Hansen?
I actually did some children’s bedlinen designs for Nerida when she was at Target many years ago. I didn’t actually meet her in person then but a couple of years later I approached her at Reed because I just knew that as an Australian freelancing textile designer she was an excellent friend to have.
What is a typical day for you? What do you do outside of work?
Well, both my boys are at home and my day revolves around when they need to be fed, have naps and it’s general mum life stuff. But I’m always finding ways to get small business tasks done around the kids. Sometimes it’s just planning Instagram posts while I feed my one year old, or on a productive day it’s taking product photos, painting with my four year old, writing emails, packing and sending orders. Every day is different! Most of my painting and designing happens at night. Having friends over for dinner or going on a holiday is when I take a break. And I never work on Saturdays. That’s family and church time! It’s so nice to completely stop for one whole day every week.
Who has inspired you the most to date and why?
CJ Hendry has been a huge inspiration for me. She truly stays in her own lane and does her thing so, so well. She definitely inspires me to lift my game and only put out my best work. And just try out that wild idea in the back of my mind!
Georgie, you’ve worked on a lot of projects. What would be your dream job?
There’s so many dream jobs! I would love to design prints for Carolina K, Celia B, Obus or Gorman. And I’m excited about designing illustrations for packaging since I did some designs for Brookfarm last year. Some kind of colourful chocolate packaging would be fun too.
What is in the pipeline for you?
I feel that it’s time for another exhibition. I had my first solo exhibition three years ago and I really learnt a lot from that experience, and so many opportunities came out of it. An exhibition full of colour and rare plants in an interesting space would be fabulous.
Do you have a mantra? What is it?
Practice makes progress. Just show up in your own regular way that feels right for you.
What advice would you offer to those that are starting out as artists?
While your studying, try to get as much work experience in as many different creative industries as possible. You never know what opportunities might come up and what you will discover. It’s such a good way to get a sneak peek into interesting businesses.
Visit www.neridahansen.com.au to splurge on the entire collection.Words by Jacqui Taylor