IG Design Group is one of the world’s leading innovators in the design and manufacturing of gift packaging, greetings, social expression giftware, stationery, and creative play products.
They are the largest producer of gift wrap in Europe, selling an incredible 850 million metres in 2016 – more than enough to go to the moon and back! Their products are sold in over 190,000 stores across 80 countries and are proud official suppliers of Christmas crackers to Her Majesty the Queen!
Following a visit with IG Design Group and an interview with Head of Creative Sarah Barker (found our blog and in MOYO Magazine), today we are delighted to share our interview with Lauren Childs, IG Design Group’s experienced Illustrator and Designer.
All About Lauren
Lauren specialises in ‘kidult’ characters and bespoke illustrations. In fact, her drawing and illustration skills are a couple of her biggest strengths and are the reason for her quirky and whimsical design style. Lauren says her work is influenced by Scandi and retro pattern designs in addition to children’s book illustrations.
Outside of her design work, Lauren’s absolute favourite thing to do to spend time travelling and having fun with her family and best friends. They even took a trip to Iceland and last summer to go Kayaking in the Stockholm Archipelago!
We are incredibly excited to bring you a fabulous interview with Lauren below – she truly is an inspirational and creative individual and we hope you enjoy all Lauren has shared with us today!
- Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m a creative individual with a love of colour. I believe that design should always be be both effective and beautiful. I am constantly inspired by nature and changing weather patterns. I love mountains and my work is often inspired by the beautiful Welsh countryside. I’m a wife and a Mamma with a beautiful moggie and I‘m usually sporting bright red hair!
- When did your interest in design first start and how did that come about?
I’ve loved drawing and making since I was a child but always doubted my abilities. When I was 15, on a whim, I decided I wanted to be an interior designer but at the time I wasn’t even studying Art! Fortunately I met an incredible teacher who enabled me to switch courses and complete my GCSE in a year. I went from an F to an A* as my final grade and I am eternally grateful to that wonderful mentor and generally awesome lady!
- What steps did you take to get to where you are now as a designer?
I’m prone to being indecisive and actually studied Silversmithing and Jewellery Making at University for the first year. It’s still a passion of mine but just wasn’t right at the time. I think I was a little afraid of illustration but I also liked to work three-dimensionally and just wasn’t sure which course to take. I went to chat to the Illustration Department and showed them my portfolio and they welcomed me with open arms. I spent the next three years creating unique characters and dabbling in animation. It was hard work but rewarding and very inspiring. However, this did not ultimately lead to my career as a surface pattern designer. That came some years later as a direct resulting of taking the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design course.
- How would you describe your design style?
My style is very whimsical and quirky and I love to create kidult characters. I consider myself as an artist before a designer. I love to work organically and without restriction and I find that a mistake in a piece of artwork can often turn into something wonderful. When I first graduated I was afraid of working digitally but I knew I needed to embrace it. This only really happened when I started working at IG Design Group. I’ve since learned to combine my traditional and digital drawing and painting skills and I’m having so much fun! The possibilities are endless when you add software into the mix. I do strongly believe though that good drawing skills are essential to a successful career and will always be sought out by art directors. If you can use both skills well then you’re onto a winner!
- You joined us for The Art & Business of Surface Pattern Design (ABSPD) e-course a few years ago – can you tell us your experience of it?
I joined the ABSPD course for it’s initial run and I just remember being terribly excited as I hadn’t seen anything like this before. I was desperate to start drawing and painting again and to rediscover my drawing style, but I needed a platform and a structure to guide me through this. One of the things that I loved best about the course was the mix of tutorials and avenues for gathering inspiration. The course suggests a variety of creative tasks, ranging from drawing exercises, software tutorials and ideas around how to collect and display inspiration. It kept things fresh and ensured you could approach things differently everyday. The ability to watch the tutorials at an appropriate time was a must as well with working full-time. I think the course really spoke to me as it reminded me of my art foundation course and all the freedom and fun I had whilst taking that. The course structure is very organic and naturally guides you from initial inspiration and sketches to final patterns.
- How do you think the ABSPD e-course has helped your design career?
Before I took the course, I was floundering and lacking direction. I had all this creative energy and the necessary design skills but lacked the confidence to combine them and present my work. I was desperate to work in the creative industry but I didn’t have confidence in my portfolio. The course sent me back to my roots to re-explore mark making and my personal drawing style. The live briefs also allowed me to bring design concepts to life and visualise my work as real-life products. By the end I had a full Surface Pattern and Illustration portfolio that I was proud of and could present it to potential employers.
Prior to the ABSPD course I had no training in surface pattern and little knowledge of the industry. I wasn’t really aware that this was a career choice. The course provided me with the fundamental skills I needed to work in this area. Most importantly though it boosted my confidence and and I finally believed in my creative skills. The first job I applied for was at IG Design Group and it took a lot of courage as it was an Experienced Designer position. I felt a little out of my depth but knew I had to go for it. On this occasion I wasn’t successful but I was able to present my portfolio and get a foot in the door. Amazingly a few months later they requested to interview me again for a maternity cover role. I’ve been there for four years now and I haven’t looked back. I’m proud to say that I am now an Experienced Designer!
- Would you recommend the ABSPD e-course to others? Why?
I would definitely recommend the course as I think the structure is very good and the pace is achievable whilst studying or working at the same time. As you gather your own inspiration you can totally make it your own and put into it as much as you want. It’s also an excellent community and I’m still in touch via social media groups with many of the designers who took the course with me. More than anything though I had of a lot of fun and gained confidence in my creative skills. Even if you’re not looking for a new career or to improve your portfolio, if you love design then do it for the sheer fun of it.
- You now work at IG Design Group, can you tell us about what your role involves, what you love about it and what you’re working on right now?
I love my job and I’m fortunate to work with a wonderful group of people and my team are so supportive. People laugh when I say that I draw Santas and Snowmen all day but sometimes this really is the case! It was a steep learning curve for me when I joined because my software skills were somewhat lacking but this wasn’t a problem. IG were supportive of this and it was simply a case of transferring my hand-drawn skills into the software programs. I have learnt so much technically in my time there. Recently, I created a range for our Luxury In-house brand, Tom Smith and I feel really proud of this collection. It was a challenge to consider all of the design elements and individual products that go into a range. As a studio we are also technically trained in-house to ensure that designs are fit for production which is a huge advantage.
- Looking ahead what are your major goals for the next couple of years?
I’m very excited about this chapter of my life as I’ve recently become a Mum. So for the next year I’ll be mostly focused on that. However if I do find some spare time time then I hope to do some sketching and painting and improve my illustration skills ready for my return to work!
Quick Fire Questions
- What three words best describe you?
Tenacious, Considerate and a Daydreamer.
- Who or what inspires your work?
I had another wonderful teacher on my Art foundation course who introduced me to Lucy Casson, who has remained an inspiration. Her 3D models are so beautiful and quirky. Lucy uses found and recycled materials to create them, resulting in wonderful colours and a great sense of movement. I’m also constantly wowed by the illustrators Oliver Jeffers, Alex T. Smith and David Litchfield. For print and pattern inspiration I often look to Jane Ormes, MissPrint, and Ikea.
- What quote or saying do you live by?
“The biggest mistake you could ever make is being too afraid to make one”.
- What’s your favourite design tool?
A black fineliner for sketching and mark-making.
- If you could be any pattern, what would it be and why?
I’d be a retro-modern floral. I love patterns because they are bold, quirky and often brightly coloured