Small Business Feature: A chat with Laura Blythman
Designer, illustrator and creative director Laura Blythman is renowned for her vibrant use of colour and paper collage. Her recognisable aesthetic has garnered her a legion of fans and a super happy + colourful portfolio of work with clients ranging from start up businesses to high profile Australian and International brands.
I first stumbled upon Laura’s work following the Oh! Hello Geelong Blog. This old blog is one that I personally loved. Oh! Hello Geelong was established in 2012 by Laura & Penny – two ladies who were not from Geelong. For them, it wasn’t love at first sight when they first met Geelong, but they soon made friends with their new hometown and decided to share their finds. Having previously lived in Geelong I enjoyed following along with the adventures and happy finds that Laura and Penny would come across in their adventures around the town.
Laura has worked with big brands including Spotlight, Pana Chocolate, A Skulk of Foxes, Typo, Click On Furniture, Peachy Gift, Mr.Wolf, Cotton On Kids, T2 teas, Zoo York, Kiitos – Living By Design, Swan Emporium, La De Dah Kids and Stuck On You. Check out my chat with Laura below, her work screams fun and will make you smile from ear to ear.
What led you to a career in graphic design and illustration?
I pretty much spent my whole childhood cutting and pasting and drawing and I was always in awe of everything creative so when it came time to consider careers I just assumed graphic design would be my gig. Of course, as a teenager, my imagined ‘dream world’ of graphic design narrowly involved designing posters and CD covers for my favourite bands and that’s about all. I spent a few floaty years after high school (including a short stint as a hairdressing apprentice…Yep) but a friend gently nudged me in the direction of The Australian Academy of Design and three years later I’d scored myself a BA in Graphic Design and a job at Hallmark Cards Australia.
I spent three years at Hallmark designing an unimaginable number of greeting cards as well as gift packaging, stationery so on. I moved on to designing boutique wedding stationery for Cristina Re and then I teamed up with a friend and we focused on surface and pattern design for papers, stationery and home wares. When an amazing senior design opportunity popped up at the newest stationery brand on the block and I pounced in it! At Typo I got to indulge in everything I love most – huge range design, illustration and creative direction for a massive scope of stationery and home decor products as well as the design and management of the Cotton On Yardage library – focusing mostly on pattern for Cotton On Kids and Body.
During these years I also worked on small, freelance jobs designing branding and collateral for start-up businesses or textile designs and so when I left Typo to have my baby Alexander almost three years ago, I amped up my own brand and I’ve been freelancing ever since. And LOVING it.
You recently said Goodbye to your Oh! Hello Blog that I absolutely loved, are you still writing posts?
Yes, sadly it was time to bid farewell to our blog. I won’t be writing or contributing content any longer but it has been left in very capable and clever hands. I think readers will love the fresh perspective of the new girls. I’ll miss it a little but it was one of those side projects that grew huge and life got a bit too busy to fit it all in. I’ll still contribute illustrations as needed and possibly even one day create an updated version of the Geelong Map Poster… I’m moving home to Melbourne very soon so maybe a Melbourne map will be next on the cards. I love creating maps and can’t wait to work on the next one.
What future plans do you have for your creative business?
I’ve had some truly amazing opportunities coming my way of late so the plan is to pretty much stick to the path I’m on. I’m absolutely bursting with ideas and wish lists of things to create and share so I’m keen to find some more time to work on my own projects and become a fully-fledged ‘pie hands’. Variety keeps me very happy.
I hope to continue working on more and more collaborative projects, designing and illustrating for fun products and ranges, working with new brands and fab clients and hopefully some high profile clients too! I’d love to work on a new collection of artwork which I will hopefully exhibit somewhere…
Another thing I’m looking forward to once I’m back in Melbourne is making plans to move the ‘studio’ out of my home. I absolutely love working in shared studio spaces as I go a bit crazy on my own sometimes.
Who do you admire in the the industry?
Oh, I admire so many clever people, brands and businesses for many different reasons. Internationally I’m loving creatives such as Ashley Goldburg, Ma + Chr, Jessica Hische, Lab Partners, Dana Tanamachi, Julia Pott, and Lisa Congdon. Locally I’m blown away by the work of so many amazing creatives inc. Miranda Skoczek, Brigette Bodenham, Lucas Grogan, Harvest Textiles… Really, there are so many more. Far too many to list.
What has been your most favourite project in recent years?
I really loved the opportunity I was given earlier this year to create a new and huge body of work for my solo exhibition (Love, Lyrics, Neon). So many great things, amazing opportunities and collaborations have stemmed from that mammoth effort and collection of work… Jobs that have elements of both custom illustration and a high level of involvement in creating the brief and setting the style direction for the job are my faves. Illustrating the Geelong Map for The Design Files was a super proud moment. And I loved part one of my collaboration with A Skulk Of Foxes (wooden iPhone covers) so I’m super excited to release some more products with them soon!
What music would I hear playing in your studio?
At the moment I’m playing a big mix of inc. Theophilus London, Arcade Fire, Chet Faker, Haim, Alpine, Bat For Lashes, The Smiths, Chvches, Yo La Tengo… I can’t work without music.
Can you share your go to resource for motivation?
Get your hands on some of Laura’s work here: www.laurablythman.com.au