Drawing inspiration from the street, nature and people, Shannon Heath’s naïve and whimsical textile artworks are quickly gaining recognition on an international stage. Now based in Portland, Oregon, Shannon is working on a creative collaboration with Cotton On and TBar, to expose her wearable art to a whole new audience.
Tell us a little about your background – what path led you to becoming an artist and to creating the style of textile artwork you are currently making?
My background is in-house textile artist and brand/art director for a few Australian street and surf wear brands. More recently I managed the graphic design team at Cotton On before relocating to the US. For me, the artwork process always fascinated me more than the final outcome. This led me to experiment with all kinds of medium. By fine tuning my visual art practice with my graphic design disciplines I discovered a true artisan approach to my textile designs.
Do you follow trends? Where do you turn for creative inspiration?
Yes for sure. I always look at runways for top line trend inspiration. Any major youth, entertainment or cultural events like Coachella, Glastonbury or even The Oscars red carpet are great to look to for inspiration. I’ve been lucky enough to travel and attend design and textile conferences around the world. Getting off your front doorstep always expands the mind creatively. If you can’t though, blogs are great for a quick inspo fix but I’m a huge advocate for flicking through an old book or magazine for some vintage gold!
I love hunting through thrift stores or antique markets for vintage textile treasures too!
How did you grab the attention of retailers such as Scanlan Theodore, Mink Pink and Staple the Label with your Kasbah artworks (or did they come to you)?
The Kasbah textile collections are represented by a Sydney based textile and fabric agent who sells the artworks to designers in Australia and New Zealand.
In general, how much do you tailor your designs to the brand you’re working with?
If I’m employed directly by a brand the artwork is always tailor made to suit the brands aesthetic.
How involved are you in decisions around what your designs are printed on?
When I worked in house I was always heavily involved in the whole process. From trend, colour, concept to design and production. I always played a huge part in the decision making for print technique, colour and garment treatment too.
Can you give us a little insight into the process?
Usually the client knows my style so in terms of arriving at the finished product there is usually two or three steps involved. The client will usually provide a written brief with accompanying visual references. I’ll then draft up a sketch (in not too much detail) and submit for review. Once the draft concept is approved I go straight to finished art. Generally there will be no updates after this stage and we usually go straight to artwork spec.
With its global positioning, what has the TBar x Cotton On collaboration meant for you as an artist?
The exposure to an audience on a global scale has been quite significant.
What role has social media played in your journey?
There’s no denying social media proves to be a powerful platform to showcase and expose creative talent globally. I certainly have a love/hate relationship with it as I feel many people become obsessed with portraying a life of perfection rather than reality. On the flip side though, I absolutely love how you can open yourself to a broad spectrum of people from around the world. I love how you can use social media as your own sounding board, by posting something you’ve created for instant feedback is pretty cool.
Any tips for budding artists?
Don’t try to replicate what other artists are doing. No one wants to see a copy-cat. Be authentic. Be unique. BE YOU!