Australian Illustrator Fleur Harris on Hummingbird Fields, Woodlands Wallpaper and Cotton On Swimwear
Our "Hummingbird Fields" design was created exclusively for Indie Boho by renowned Australian Illustrator Fleur Harris. Here she talks to us about the global popularity of her Woodlands wallpaper, her collaboration with Lara Worthington for Cotton On swimwear, why having a creative career in Australia is so fulfilling… and the unconventional names of her pets!
Indie Boho – How long have you been illustrating for?
Fleur – I've been working as a commercial artist for over ten years now. Of course I have always drawn. And I studied Fine art at University back in 2000, but it's formed the bulk of my career most prominently in the last decade.
Do you do any other kind of work in the creative field?
Yes, I work in product design, creative direction, textile design, helping brands plan and design their seasonal collections... my work covers a fairly broad scope. I'm also a Mum - that is a whole other job in itself.
What is your favourite medium to illustrate with?
I use textas a lot. I like the ease of use with them, and I often use connector pens to build my colour palettes. I do most of my work with my Wacom tablet though - I can't use a normal mouse anymore, it feels too unusual. My Wacom pen is like an extension of my arm.
What is your best known illustration job and one you are most proud of?
A series of Woodland artworks I did that have been released as wallpapers by Jimmy Cricket have attracted the most attention. The response to these artworks has been very encouraging. The wallpapers have been installed in children's rooms all over the world, which is really heart warming.
The Woodlands artworks are very special to me, not only because of their success but also because of the complexity of their design - they took a long time and are very complex, detailed pattern repeats. They really were a labour of love, at the time when i was making them I had no idea they would be so popular, I didn't even know what they would be used for - but I could tell they were going to be special and I knew I had to finish them. I love all the little creatures and flowers and plants within them. And now that the designs are being enjoyed by children and families around the world - it is really all you could dream of as an artist.
Another project that I look back on particularly fondly was working with Lara Worthington on her Swimwear collaboration with Cotton On. The collection was a great success, it won awards and sold out very quickly, and Lara was a pleasure to design with. The whole team that worked on that project was great. It was a lot of fun.
What do you love about living and working in Australia and have you lived abroad?
I love that we are - for the most part - a free, safe, happy, relaxed society. I love the weather. The animals. The plant life. The people. The food. Everything. It's the best place in the world. I love that we are remote and independent and we don't have the worries that a lot of other countries carry. It's rare I watch the news from around the world and am not reminded of how incredibly lucky I am to live in Australia.
I went to University in Italy for a semester, but I have not lived for an extended period in another country. I have travelled a lot over the years, for work and for fun, and I still have many more places to discover.
Do you have any observations about the creative talents coming from Australia?
There's a bravery in us that I am inspired by. I love that so many people are having great ideas and having a solid crack at bringing them to life. I wish we had a bigger population and market to sustain all the wonderful small business' that spring from Australia's innovative culture.
What inspires you in your work?
I'm motivated by the thought that every moment offers an opportunity for me to create something. When I get up in the morning, I don't know what it is I will create that day, and I'm excited to find out. I mean, I might have a stack of briefs lined up to work on - but I won't know exactly yet how they will look once I've finished them - that path of discovery is very exciting for me. I am inspired by such a range of things that I don't have a 'go-to' source for inspiration - it seems to sneak up on me when I least expect it and I like that very much.
Do you have any pets?
I love animals and have had different pets over the years.
My pets have always started with one name and over time it has evolved into a series of other names, and eventually each pet has ended up being called a completely different name to what it first was called. For example, my dog "Tessie" ended up being called "Rat", "Goldie" the Labrador ended up as "Hoggie", "Soxy" the cat became "Ning" and "Frankie" the Bengal became "Francois Croissant". So I would never get my pet's name inscribed on their collar - it would become irrelevant very quickly!