Lillian Farag

Maker Spotlight

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Lillian Farag is a painter and illustrator with quite the colorful eye. While her collection boasts a large variety of styles, there is a definite theme in palette and whimsy. We particularly love how Lillian marries her unique designs with a variety of wearable accessories, from clothing to leather pouches!

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Have you always been passionate about design?

I’ve always been an artist of some sort. I would often buy used clothing at a thrift store and reconstruct pieces to look different by adding to it in some way- dyeing the fabric or sewing on embellishments. I used to buy handbags, paint them and sell them to my friends and family when I was in high school. I was always drawn to creating things from scratch or reinventing them in some way to feel unique. It’s funny, I still do that from time to time for myself.

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When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?

I attended Savannah College of Art and Design, and from there I slowly started to transition my painting and illustration skills to be more fabric focused. After I graduated, I worked for a large corporate company (Macy’s) developing prints and patterns for one of their private labels. After several years of working in the industry, I decided that I wanted to try a more hands-on approach to what I do, and get back to painting and illustrating for myself. I haven’t looked back since!

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What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

This is a good question (although a hard one to answer), because I often look to other artist’s work for inspiration, and I feel developing one’s own style is super important. I guess the main thing that sets me apart is the looseness in my hand. I often create artwork without having a real idea or layout in mind. I find that some of my really strong ideas come from just playing around with color and shapes, or doing a quick warm-up sketch. I try to paint how I feel in the moment or draw weird things while I’m doodling. Often those are the pieces that people are most drawn to!

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Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?

My biggest challenge, by far, is running a business. Sure, I get to paint and make “things” for a living, which is great! However, when that becomes your means for living, there is an overwhelming pressure that goes along with it and sometimes, your creative channels and motivation for new ideas get blocked.

I have to constantly work and set aside time to paint for myself. I’ve learned through the years that painting is where all my big ideas and breakthroughs happen. I also try and make time for taking classes on the side. Being around other independent artists is a great way to boost creative thinking.

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Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?

The biggest thing I have sacrificed is my free time. Running a business means that you don’t always get weekends or week nights off. I juggle multiple projects at once and it can be challenging to manage workloads. I have to remind myself that it is okay to turn off once in a while, otherwise I can get overwhelmed. My mind never really stops cranking. New ideas or how I could better my business is always on my mind. Even when I’m not physically working, there is still a constant motivation and thought process going on in the back of my brain on what my next project could be or goals haven’t I met.

What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?

It is the most rewarding feeling when someone feels a connection to my artwork or pieces. A lot of the time, I work in my studio alone, in my own head testing new ideas or colors and deciding, “I’m going to go with this because I like it and for no other reason.” I never know how the public will perceive my work or if they will want to wear it themselves. One of the reasons I love participating in RCF so much is because I can connect with shoppers and see what pieces resonate with them. When someone gets excited about something I’ve made, it really reminds me that I’m doing something right.

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How does the city you live in influence your work?

Living in this city is everything! I love that most everyone has a style, an agenda, ideas, and motivation. I feel that energy in a positive way. I get great inspiration from the people around me and being constantly influenced by them makes me a better, well-rounded artist.

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What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?

While working in the industry for over 6 years, I was able to get first-hand experience on how to get from an idea to a finished product. I gained a lot of technical skills and experience creating prints for fashion and accessories. It gave me a good sense of the process.

I also realized that there was a lot that I didn’t know about running a business, and probably wouldn’t be exposed to learning that specifically unless I took a different path and started working for myself. Once I felt that I had the basic tools I needed to take the leap, I just went for it.

I had hit a wall in terms of learning new and exciting things while working in such a corporate environment and I felt that it was time for change. I have always been more of a “hands on” artist and wanted to explore other design opportunities that allowed me to paint and pitch my own ideas. I also felt confident that I had the tools and experience I needed to be a successful print designer and I had a lot to offer.

Being an independent designer allows me to collaborate with other designers/brands and that is something I felt I was missing working for such a large company.

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What are some inspirations for your work?

I find inspiration in almost anything around me. I’m really inspired by texture and color. I love looking to nature and experimenting with new shapes. I tend look at other artists and pull inspiration on how they are using different mediums in their work. Fashion and self-expression are hugely influential in my work as well, which living in New York has really made me realize.

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What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

Try to break boundaries with your ideas and allow yourself to move forward and grow, don’t get too hung up on a bump in the road. It’s really hard to stand out in this age of Instagram and Pinterest where you are exposed to so many amazing things. I often get intimidated by all the talent that I am exposed to. It’s important to remind yourself that if you truly enjoy what you do, the art begins to speak for itself.

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All Things Lillian Farag:

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