Meet The Scenic Route: Choosing Her Own Path

Victoria McGrane is the artist and textile designer behind the creative endeavour, The Scenic Route. A self-described daydreamer with a big imagination. Her work is inspired by nature and travel, therefore it only seemed fitting to combine the two on a slow journey around Australia with her partner, Darren and dog, Gypsy in their converted motorhome fondly named, Daisy. Not even a global pandemic was stopping them, it may have meant a temporary pause though.

Daisy is decked out with The Scenic Route fabrics from top to bottom. It has been refurbished for off-grid living which reflects Victoria’s urge to minimise her footprint. She also aligns herself with Rainforest Rescue with her art prints to raise funds and awareness for conservation issues and uses sustainable raw materials, minimal packaging and recycled materials whenever possible.

Victoria is embracing her own unique path and recently had an e-chat with our blog editor, Jacqui Taylor. She speaks passionately about collaborating with businesses like Nerida Hansen Fabrics and Future Folk Designs who bring her work to life on fabrics and decals.

Hello Victoria, thanks for taking the time to chat with me via email. Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself such as where you grew up?Thanks so much for chatting with me! I was born in England but we moved to Australia when I was six years old and I grew up on the northern beaches of Sydney. I have always been a bit of a daydreamer and loved drawing, making up stories, reading, and making things. My granny Mary who was a seamstress and taught me how to sew when I was quite young, first with dolls’ clothes and then I had great fun making grunge clothes when I was a teenager.

After high school I studied visual art at SCA and then fashion and textile design for print at Tafe before going on a huge backpacking trip through Southeast Asia and Europe. I ended up in London where I did internships and worked in fashion and textiles before coming back to Australia in 2011.

What about where you live now? Tell me about your decision to slow down, travel and work on the road.
After spending a year living in the outback we decided to fulfill a life-long dream to travel around Australia. We bought a converted bus, and spent the last year exploring the east coast of QLD and NSW. We hope to complete a full loop of Australia and don’t have a time frame for this happening, we are big fans of slow travel. 

What is your creative process and what challenges have you faced whilst embarking on this journey?
I have had to become much more flexible with my creative process and really downsize my equipment since living on the bus due to limited storage space.

I always start with a written brief for myself and I am always jotting down ideas and inspiration in my notebook and taking photographs of any beautiful plants, insects birds or animals that I see. I create mood boards in Pinterest and choose a colour palette and I try and work mainly from photographs I have taken on my travels or flora that I have foraged – I always have piles of dried leaves and plants I have gathered cluttering up the bus!

I draw all of my elements by hand and then scan into my laptop and create the compositions and add colour in Photoshop, but I do have a small stash of paints and textas that I get out if we are stopped for a few days!
What has changed for you due to COVID-19? And how have you adapted your work to manage during this time?
When the pandemic hit and the first lockdown happened it was not a great time to be travelling. It was extremely stressful and scary trying to find a place where we were legally allowed to park up, as initially there were no provisions for people on the road full time, and it was very difficult to find consistent information.

We were so lucky to find a place in the Whitsundays to wait out the duration, but honestly, I found it so difficult to be creative during the first few months as I felt very flat and anxious. I actually put a lot of plans on hold, but I feel like I am now getting stuck in again properly which makes me feel so happy.
Victoria, when and how did you meet Nerida Hansen? Were you familiar with Nerida Hansen Fabrics?
I first met Nerida at Finders Keepers in Brisbane in 2018. It was my first market and I had just started my business, I had seen Nerida Hansen Fabrics on Instagram and I was so inspired by what she was doing I just had to go and introduce myself to her. I am so very glad I did as she has helped me in so many ways in my business, from introducing me to a manufacturer in India and licensing my designs to Spotlight and introducing my work to such a wide platform of people.

Tell me about your latest collection for Nerida Hansen Fabrics. What were your inspirations for this body of work?
This range is, as always inspired by Australian flora and fauna, and is drawn from plants and animals I have seen while I am travelling. My favourite print is the Banksia and Myrtle, I love creating prints with loads of hidden details so that you notice something new every time you look.
Considering your circumstances, I’m not sure you would have a typical day, but general what is your day like?
When we are travelling it can change all of the time, but we generally like to get up super early, take the dog for a walk, meditate and then hit the road and find a good spot for the day. We usually park up at a beach or somewhere with a nice view and ideally a swimming spot and get settled in for the day. I’ll check my emails (if I can get signal) and if I can find somewhere shady will do a few hours creative work, or working on my social media.

I need to be really disciplined to do work as it can be tempting to just enjoy my surroundings, especially if you are somewhere extremely beautiful. I try and do some yoga or other exercise every afternoon, and then another dog walk and an early outdoor dinner before the mozzies descend! We tend to go to sleep quite early and rise with the sun, especially in summer.
Who has inspired you the most to date and why? Whose careers do you follow?
I first fell in love with textile print through Florence Broadhurst and I still find her work amazing to this day, it’s so iconic, the repeat structures are perfection, and her work has such a strong and iconic signature.

I am definitely more drawn to the work of designers who are nature inspired and I absolutely love Jocelyn Proust, Amber Davenport, Phillipa Nilant, Dana Kinter and Maggie Enterrios.

I always follow the work of Justina Blakely from the @thejungalow, I just find the world she creates absolutely fascinating and so original.

Do you have a dream collaboration or project?
I would absolutely love to design a range of prints for bedding! Or pyjamas… My favourite place to be is mooching in bed with a book so there is a definite theme here.

What is in the pipeline for you for 2021?
I really want this year to be all about creativity – I am really excited about the new ranges that I have planned based on my travels including some prints inspired by the Great Barrier Reef. I would like to continue to raise awareness for environmental issues through my work and designs by working with organisations like Rainforest Rescue.

Name three words that best describe your style of art.
Intricate, Botanical and Nostalgic.

What advice would you offer to those that are starting out as an artist?Never give up, try and ignore the trends and develop your own unique signature style. And don’t over think it!
The Scenic Route collection is available online at www.neridahansen.com.au, as well as select designs as decals at www.futurefolk.com.au