This week we interview popular designer, blogger and author Marie Perkins, a.k.a Bowie Style.
Born in Hampshire, Marie studied Graphic Design and Illustration in Salisbury, Wiltshire and then moved to Brighton to paint ceramics. She then moved into Textile Design, creating prints for stores such as BHS, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Homebase. Marie is now back in Hampshire where she works from home as a freelance designer and blogger.
When I started Print & Pattern in 2006 I remembered the Banksy statement “Nobody listened to me until they didn’t know who I was”. At the time of registering with Blogger I knew I wanted to use a pseudonym to remain anonymous and as my hero is David Bowie I tried a few variants which were all taken. On the bookshelf was a David Bowie book called “Bowie Style” which is all about his different images over the years. If I had known it would go on to become an identity I might have thought a bit harder about it, but at the time I could not imagine Print & Pattern would become so popular.
How much of a part does art and creativity play in your life?
Design is pretty much my whole life. I enjoy looking at the design of everything from everyday food packaging to fashion. I manage to find print and pattern that pleases me everywhere.
I also love interior design, music, theatre and I am mad on Georgian and Classical architecture so everywhere I go I observe art and creativity.
Who are your favourite designers and why? What or who influences you and your work?
My favourite designers are Orla Kiely and Cath Kidston because they have put prints and patterns at the very heart of their design businesses. The motifs and colours are what have created the brands. I also admire many of the designers we feature on the Print & Pattern blog. They may not be household names but there work is fantastic.
My own designs are influenced by Scandinavian style with lots of flat graphics and bold motifs. I like to simplify flowers and animals into colourful graphic representations.
What is the history behind printpattern.blogspot.co.uk. Why did you decide to start it and did you ever imagine that it would be as successful as it has become?
I was working as an in-house designer and had to produce a lot of information and mood boards on print trends for clients so I began to look at blogs but could not find one that focused entirely on the printed surface. Most were for general interior design or fashion – so I decided to start my own.
Over the years many people have asked me what is a Surface Pattern Designer? So it was a real passion of mine to let more people know about the role. To point out there is little or no difference between designing a greetings card or a roll of wallpaper. I never thought it would go on to help so many people obtain design jobs or commissions and be so well known within the industry.
How did the Print Pattern series come about? Can you tell us a little about your latest release Print & Pattern Geometric? Are there plans for any more books at all?
The Print & Pattern blog had become really popular by 2008 and I was approached by the publishers Laurence King about the idea of a book on Surface Design. Believe or not there had never really been one until then. I hadn’t written a book before but very excitedly I took on the challenge. Luckily it did very well and more titles followed. Laurence King are fantastic and allow me a very free hand to curate wonderful artwork from some of the very best designers and companies in the industry today.
I hope there will be yet more titles in the series. For this latest title I have focused on the amazing things you can do with geometric shapes. The artists creativity with circles, triangles, dots, dashes etc seems to know no bounds. I think it is the boldest most colourful one so far. We featured designing especially for children in the last book and hope to cover more individual subjects going forward.
Do you have any moments that stand out in your career as a textile designer and/or blogger?
Print & Pattern has opened doors for me so I consider myself very lucky, for example through the blog I was invited on a personal tour of the Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke on Trent. Meeting Emma and visiting their design studio was a real privilege as I have been a fan for years. I was also very pleased to hear that Orla Kiely also enjoyed the blog and requested a signed copy of the book.
I also get to attend a few press shows to get a scoop on forthcoming designs from companies such as Habitat, Cath Kidston, Laura Ashley, etc. It was very exciting to see my books on sale in the Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
What advice would you share with budding designers? Is there anything you wish someone had told you when you first started out, or anything you have learnt along the way that you would like to pass on?
When I left school I was not told of the many options of surface design – being pushed instead towards graphic design or becoming an illustrator. Hence I have since made a bit of a mission to let people know that there are more options available.
Going to Art College changed my life, not just with the actual art training but also on the history of art and cinema, etc. It gives you a fabulous cultural grounding so would recommend formal college or university education to anyone who want to be a designer.
If you have already passed that stage I would say get yourself a web presence and make yourself visible online so art directors can find you. Focus on the areas of design you feel most passionate about, for example children’s design, greetings cards, fashion prints, etc. and work towards creating a portfolio you can showcase to companies in that industry.
Finally, what are your hopes for the future of your work?
I would love work with some of my favourite brands or even to license work under the Print & Pattern name. My dream job would be to design some book covers for classic fiction such as Jane Austin. Pattern based of course !
Marie’s new book Print & Pattern Geometric (under the name Bowie Style), published by Laurence King Publishing is available from all good book sellers including Amazon now (rrp. £19.95).
If you have an inspiring story of your own to share and would like to be interviewed in our ‘We Meet…’ feature (or know someone who should), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.