photos DANIEL LANCASTER
Leaving her corporate life behind, Australian creative Erin Kendal has taken the textile design world by storm, all while sharing her story to inspire others.
Tell us a bit about your creative background…
I’ve grown up surrounded by creativity – my mum was a traditional sign writer and is a talented sewist; my sister is a self-taught artist working in several mediums; even my dad used to hand-craft leather goods back in the day. Needless to say, I’ve loved painting, drawing and crafting since forever.
How did you get started?
When I finished school, I had no idea what surface pattern design was – in fact, I still have to explain it to others! I worked in the corporate world for 15 years and during that time had what many would call a ‘side hustle’ with the hope to quit my day job. I tried many things – including sewing baby goods using fabrics purchased from regular stores – before I discovered Spoonflower through another Aussie creative, Tango and James. A whole world of possibilities opened up for my handmade brand, including the ability to create unique fabric designs.
A whole world of possibilities opened up for my handmade brand, including the ability to create unique fabric designs.
What is your favourite thing about working with Spoonflower?
I consider myself very fortunate to have found Spoonflower because the platform provided the springboard for my career. They’re a company with admirable principles around diversity, inclusivity, sustainability and community, and they know how important artists are to their business. This is evident in the support they give to their designer community and their fair commissions to artists.
Can you explain your creative process?
I’m always in design mode! No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I’m always paying attention to my surroundings and looking at shapes, colours and textures. Any of these things can spark an idea. Once inspired, I’ll either get my paints out or draw on my iPad, and I always finish the process by creating the repeating pattern in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.
Do you consider yourself a designer or an artist first?
I’m an artist, first and foremost. This topic is discussed frequently in the surface design community because the work of artists and designers is often undervalued or not respected – as if anyone could do what we do. This is a perception that my peers and I are keen to change. Basically, if you create art then you’re an artist. There are no two ways about it.
You work with a lot of indie and boutique labels. Why is that so important to you?
Instagram has really been the platform that’s helped me connect with brands and develop partnerships. Many of the labels I’ve collaborated with have cult-like followings with very loyal customers – and I just love that. Given my maker history, I especially love the grassroots collaboration with makers and the line of sight I get from designer to maker to end customer. I feel so special that I’m still involved in this process and that my designs are used to celebrate key life events, such as the birth of a new baby.
I feel so special that I’m still involved in this process and that my designs are used to celebrate key life events, such as the birth of a new baby.
Can you tell us a bit about your recent jump into teaching?
Last year I launched my first online course teaching designers how to dropship via Spoonflower, which is something I did while I was transitioning from my day job. I’ve discovered that a lot of people relate to the circumstances that preceded my creative career, which was, essentially, working a job I didn’t love and longing for a creative life. I field a lot of questions about how I’ve ‘done it,’ so I want to create more courses to share my knowledge and insight to help others realise their creative dreams – and how to avoid some of the pitfalls I experienced along the way.
What’s been your biggest learning curve?
Really, my whole surface design journey has been a huge learning curve. I had to learn everything from how to properly create a repeating pattern to art licensing – initially without a lot of guidance. My path might sound like it was easy, but it’s been a cultivation of hard work, determination, persistence, courage and vulnerability, coupled with strategic decision-making and business sense.