There’s nothing more I love than sharing the journeys of creative, inspiring people.
Which is why I couldn’t be happier to introduce you to Sharnee, the illustrator and founder behind the gorgeous picnic rug brand, Wandering Folk. You may recognise her gorgeous work from the post we did a while ago about *that* amazing DIY platter, and after meeting in person recently I knew I had to share her work and words here. Spoiler alert… You’re going to want one of everything.
Hi Sharnee! Tell is a little bit about yourself, what made you so creative and with such an amazing eye for nature and illustration?
I grew up in a small coastal town just north of Byron Bay, across the road from the beach with a jungle backyard and a creek, nature is my medicine. My family were camping lovers, we always camped pretty fancy, mum didn’t like to rough it. My dad always taught me all the plants & birds names. I’m still obsessed with birds. I was always creative from a small age, my grandma is an amazing painter and I would spend hours drawing and painting with her, my mum is an amazing sewer and would make clothes for me and my sister growing up. My childhood was quite the fairytale.
What has your creative journey been like?
I always wanted to do something creative as a career and when I stumbled across Textile Design I was hooked, I moved to Melbourne to study a BA of Textile Design at RMIT. After graduating I got an amazing job at a leading Print Design Studio in Sydney, and spent 3 years working, learning the ins and outs of the Fashion industry. My artwork was purchased by DKNY, Victoria Secret, Bec & bridge, Lover the Label and was even on the NYC runway for Rebecca Minkoff. I decided to take the leap as a freelancer and haven’t looked back, I’m very lucky to work with some amazing labels, Ninelives Bazaar, Mr Simple, Kip & Co, Seafolly, RM Williams and The Assembly label.
I worked as a freelance designer for about 2 years before starting Wandering Folk as my own little creative project. I still work as a freelance print designer on the side as I love getting to paint and draw, because running Wandering Folk can be very business focused at times.
How did you start experimenting with picnic rug design?
I always wanted to have my own project, not a fashion brand, something that was timeless not trend driven and was high quality focusing on prints. I love camping and all the good quality camping mats are so ugly. So that’s how the picnic rug idea came about.
I made my first sample and took it on a 6 week road trip adventure around the US with my best friend to test it out and make sure it was made to last. It took another year of sampling before I was happy with the product to launch it into the world. I have so many fun picnic accessory ideas in the works, slowly chipping away at samples.
The cooler bag was a 2 year project, testing and sampling to perfect it. I really like to focus is on the details and making the highest quality product I can. I guess I found my niche and other people were also looking for a beautiful picnic rug, we now have over 60 stockists around Australia and the world stocking them.
What inspires your use of materials in your designs?
The base of the picnic rugs are made from a waterproof canvas inspired by the wax canvas that swags and canvas tents are made from. I use a beautiful cotton canvas for the top of the picnic rug that is digitally printed with high quality Italian inks to make all the details in the designs stand out. The prints on the picnic rugs are inspired by vintage pieces, nature and flowers, my most recent picnic rug Native Wildflower is all hand drawn Australian flowers.
What is the process behind creating your designs?
Research I normally start with researching, Pinterest is my favourite place to start. I collect images that inspire and spark ideas that could morph into there own theme. For Example, my Emerald Forest picnic rug print, was inspired by Art Nouveau an international style of decorative arts and William Morris a textile designer from the 1800s, It has free flowing ornate motifs and block print flowers.
Moodboarding Once I have collected inspiration images, colours and styles I put together a mood board that forms the base of that design.
Sketching Once I have this I can start drawing, sketching details from Architecture details and wood block artwork in pencil all inspired from the moodboard images. After I have a few pages of drawn motifs I scan these into photoshop and start to add in colours. When the motifs have colour I start to play around with layout ideas, all of my picnic rug designs have boarders so I start with creating the boarder and the rest flows from there.
Choosing Colours After the print is ready, I pick pantone colours to match my on screen colours to send to my printers. The printer will develop the sample and send it to me for approval. I’m pretty fussy when it comes to colours, so this can be a slow process of getting the colours perfect.
Manufacture Once its all approved the factory we work with makes the print into a picnic rug, the tassels are hand dyed to match a chosen colour from the print , then we go ahead with production.
Do you have any creative advice for us?
Surround yourself with creative people that inspire you. If you see someone that inspires you, reach out to them and tell them and always ask for advice.
Also if you are struggling with creative inspiration I find spending time in nature to be a great way to get things flowing again. Whether it be as simple as a quick picnic at a quiet beach or a week long hike through a nature reserve, anytime that I can spend away from my phone or laptop will make me more inspired and productive once I sit back down to start designing again.