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2023 Winner Pt.1 - Amber Lily

Where did you study and what was the course title?

Manchester School of Art, Textiles in Practice and I specialized in mixed media and embroidery.

Name of your lecturer – course tutor?

My course tutor was Kate Egan, and I had a lot of help from technicians Susan Prestbury, Vicki Wild and Elizabeth Edwards.

Have you got a creative mission statement?

As a multi-disciplinary artist/ designer and colourist my practice primarily focuses on replicating texture and colour from it’s inspiration. Beginning with photography, drawings, and mark making, these are then taken forward with dyeing, print, embroidery, and collage. I focus on replicating shapes I find in my everyday surroundings to create organic forms and abstract results. Colour and colour proportion are also prominent, combined with the composition. I work intuitively with these, utilising creativity as a form of self-expression and mindfulness.

How did you feel about winning the Colour in Design Award – what does it mean to you?

Winning the Colour in Design Award felt like a dream. I had to keep reminding myself that I had won. It was such an honor to win against all the other amazing designers as the talent at New Designers is on another level. Hearing such positive feedback on my pieces and the story behind them felt surreal. Winning the award was very emotional for me, I felt so proud that all my hard work was finally starting to pay off and it has really motivated me to carry on doing what I love.

How important is colour in your work and how do you choose and narrow down colours?

Colour plays a significant role in my work. I often stick to about six colours which are picked using my primary research photos and photoshop. Once I have the palette, I use the photographs as a guide for proportion or sometimes choose to create my own. I experiment to discover which best conveys the mood I want to create within my piece. Josef Albers colour collages inspired me to make my own. These test how different colours in my palette react to one another, such as if a colour is contrasting or complementary. When layering mediums, I refer to my colour tests to get the most effective outcomes.

What is your main source of inspiration?

My source of inspiration comes from everywhere. I am constantly scanning for interesting textures and colours wherever I go. I like to focus on the colours and shapes I see and collect photos to look back on that inspire my new work. This way, I pair colours I wouldn’t usually and create more interesting shapes. Mark making and shapes could be based on stains or litter to plants and traffic cones, the possibilities are endless. I find this so exciting as I never know what I will find, often finding beauty in the mundane.

What makes you happiest/most fulfilled in your creative process?

The part in my creative process that makes me most fulfilled is the embroidery. I absolutely love free-motion embroidery and have recently purchased a Juki Irish to achieve this in my new studio. I love this part as it is when I put the most energy and passion into my pieces and it’s also the part where it all starts to come together. The texture that the embroidery gives is unmatched. Adding bold outlines to the collage or screen-prints makes them stand out even more and just gives the finishing touches my pieces need.

Creative high point?

My creative high point has been this last year in university. Although challenging, I have been really motivated by my tutor to develop my practice. She guided me to keep going with my colour work and pushed me out of my comfort zone to start using bright colours which I now love! Moving into my own studio has also been a high point as now have my own space to carry on after finishing university.

Creative low point?

Starting university through a pandemic was a creative low point. I was difficult to stay motivated when locked inside, as I was accustomed to being around like-minded people through college and my foundation year. I was something I needed to adjust to, and once back to in-person learning I made sure to take advantage of it. Fortunately, we could still communicate with our peer via video calls, which helped me to get past any creative roadblocks.

Where do you want to be in 3 years’ time?

In three years’, time I would like to be well on my way with my freelance career whilst also working in a design role. I know this will take time so I don’t want to put too much pressure on it, with hard work and determination, good things will come. I would also love to get my pieces in some more exhibitions too so that is also something I am aiming for. The future is exciting I never know what is around the corner.

Please tell us about a special person during your studies/life who has really made a difference to you on your creative journey.

I can’t choose just one person who has made a difference to my creative journey. I have been so lucky to be supported by the most amazing friends, family, boyfriend, and tutors. Each person has played such a special role in my development, whether it be cheering me on, giving advice or picking me up when I’m down. I would not have made it this far without them and I will need them more than ever now I am starting my career.

What is your favourite colour?

My favourite colours would be either pink or green. I can’t choose between them as it depends which mood I am in! Pink is soft and playful whilst green is calming and peaceful.

Image credits: Amber Lily

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