This month marks the start of something new and exciting; my Meet The Artist Feature. Each month I will bringing you an in-depth interview from some of the most coveted independent artists in the interiors sphere. This month it is my absolute pleasure to introduce the wonderful Sian Elin.
Featured as one of the Sunday Times Top 30 Fabric & Wallpaper designers, Sian Elin is a creative print designer selling pattern-led homewares. Inspired by the enduring aesthetic of Scandinavian design, Sian Elin creates lively hand-drawn designs that balance bold graphic line with a fresh and welcoming colour palette, to create a unique and recognizable brand. Sian's collections have brought a Scandinavian perspective to ceramics, tiles, and architecture from across the globe – from the Eastern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean to the mountains of Peru.
I discovered Sian's work whilst on the hunt for my youngest child's bedroom wallpaper and featured the iconic Clouds + Rainbow print in this Friday Fever post. From this point on I've been on a one woman interior style mission to bring Sian’s designs to the masses, as I believe her style is such a refreshing break from the interior norm that everyone will be uplifted and inspired by what she creates. So without further ado, settle in for A Moment With; Sian Elin.
Your Scandinavian designs are bold, colourful and truly unique, what inspired you to create in this way?
Thank you very much, that's very nice of you to say! I've always been into colour and shape in a big way and was inspired by artists such as Cezanne when I was very young - so perhaps it originated then! I think colour has the ability to be very uplifting.
What gets you into the flow of designing a print?
Lots of initial research so that I feel engrossed in my subject matter - whether that be trends, Islamic Art or American Folk Art. This helps to create connections and enables you to come up with original or interesting concepts. Then lots and lots of mark-making and designing motifs to start to get into the more hands-on creative zone – until you reach a visual language that makes sense across a collection.
Do you find yourself able to create designs easier at home, thinking up patterns whilst hanging out the washing? Or do you have to dedicate time and space at home to work?
Definitely time and space – it's hard to create if you get interrupted by lots of things. I think you need dedicated time in order to make all the connections that help create that new idea...
Can you describe the process of creating one of your wallpaper prints? In particular your clouds + rainbows print; how much time goes into the process from idea to being ready to sell?
It varies quite a bit – designing a collection of prints can take around 3 months as it is a whole new idea and approach. Designing a line extension – such as the clouds and rainbow wallpaper – can be slightly quicker and more spontaneous because a theme and handwriting has already been established.
All of my designs are hand-drawn and then scanned and coloured digitally. They are also digitally printed.
Once the design has been completed, a lot of sampling and product development is involved. This can sometimes take a lot longer than anticipated as things don't quite work as you envisaged when you see them in the flesh. This could be about tweaking the colour or the scale – and for some products such as cushions and lampshades – the placement of the design is very important.
You constantly deliver range after range of interesting, quality prints. Do you ever have periods of creative block and how do you overcome these?
Yes! Creative block can last months! I have had periods in my career where I wasn't able to spend the time on the creative development of my products because the business side just takes over. So it's important to figure out ways of freeing up your time of administrative duties - and spending dedicated and disciplined time on developing your creative skills. The more time you dedicate and spend, the better it will be. That applies to anything in life. It's also important to surround yourself with stuff related to your industry, all the time - magazines, prints, fabrics etc - whatever that might be, you need to be around it and absorb it constantly. That helps to spark ideas.
Out of all the collections you have created, do you have a favourite print / piece? If so why?
My favourite is my Inca Trail Print - I really enjoyed working on the latest collection (American Folk) - it's a creative development for me but still within my handwriting and brand. The Inca design went through quite a few iterations until I was able to find the handwriting, flow, and layout that I was comfortable with – pattern should be about creating a disguised repeat which your eye travels in and around - you should be drawn in to look at the design in more detail because it's exciting and engaging. And I think I achieved that with Inca Trail.
Alongside designing prints for wallpaper, fabric and homewares, you are also an interior stylist and have delivered lectures on style and design. You have mentioned in other interviews that your first love was illustration, would you ever consider exploring this in a different medium away from interiors and expanding your brand?
I'd love to see my designs on other objects in the retail market. Interiors are my first love, because it is where you see all the individual elements come to life and communicate with one another in a 3D space - and that is extremely satisfying. But I think, in general, I always have new ideas on things I can do, or ways in which I can take my business. It's just not possible to do them all.
What do you think is the one thing that makes a room? Is it a fabulous print? Knock out wallpaper, cool floor?
Wall colour! It really creates the backdrop for everything else to be layered on top. Interiors are about layers and how you build those up - through a combination of colour, pattern, shape, and texture. It's a bit like a painting but one you can walk around.
Do you believe in interior design / style mistakes or is everything a learning curve? If you do, what has been your biggest interior design / style mistake? And how did you move on from it?
I think everything is a learning curve! You always want to do better than the last time, and so you are always learning new things. Nothing is a mistake - imagine if you knew everything from the beginning, that would be weird! I think it's important to try and take joy in learning the new things, because as soon as you stop learning, life gets boring.
Sian, thank you very much for your time and for kick starting this feature. A Moment with you this Sunday has been a veritable delight.
All of the collections featured here and many more exciting homeware items from Sian are available now at www.sianelin.com.
*Any affiliate links will be clearly stated. All products mentioned are of my own choosing. All paid partnerships or products will clearly be marked AD and or GIFT.