Designer interview : Pauline Teunissen • La Scarlatte

Pauline Teunissen © La Scarlatte

Instagram is a great platform to discover designers and illustrators all over the world. And of course also great Dutch designers! The work of illustrator and pattern designer Pauline Teunisssen (La Scarlatte) stood out for me. She has a unique style, and her love for the natural world shows through. As a nature lover myself I enjoy watching her intricate work which focus on botanical and animal life. Therefore I am pleased to have the opportunity interviewing her in this second ‘designer interview blogpost’! 

Can you tell a bit about yourself?

I’m Pauline, and I work as a freelance illustrator and pattern maker under the name of La Scarlatte. It’s the French name for a really shy red small bird, which about sums me up. I’m always getting myself into trouble because I’m a perfectionist and never seem to be able to stop working on something or making it less detailed. Working on creating artworks more efficiently at the moment. Tea (herbal) is my IV, I have to have the biggest mugs of tea next to me, which I always forget and sometimes dip my paintbrush into. When I’m working I love to listen to music or audiobooks.

How did you become an illustrator and surface designer?

I’ve been drawing and painting from a very young age. It has always been my go to thing, it relaxes me and it’s the thing that allows me to visualize my thoughts. It was a logical decision to go to Art School, and from there I started working as a pattern designer at an Amsterdam based accessories company. In the end I was eager to create my own art so I started my own business (first with a colleague, later solo), and have been freelancing ever since.

How would you describe your style?

My very delicate pencil and ink drawings are almost always covered with flora and fauna. By blending textures and organic shapes I create a combination that moves rhythmically and sometimes repeats as a pattern. The artwork embraces every organism and object, it offers a place for people to wander in carefree spaces (where even death is beautiful) and tales of forgotten worlds can be discovered.

Can you share a bit of your design process, and your main inspiration source(s)?

Inspired by natural science, folk tales and the (Dutch) Golden Age, I am often found in the city, the zoo and the botanical gardens, where I draw an ever growing collection of animals, people and plants. By collecting all kinds of drawings and (self-taken) reference photo’s, I’ve created a sort of “image database” that’s really practical to consult when starting a new project. I usually research my project first, then sketch. When working for a client, there are a few sketch rounds, and when approved, I move on to the final artwork. Most of the times I draw everything by hand and colour my work digitally (I use a tablet monitor, they’re great), and sometimes I draw and paint everything by hand.

What was the best advice you got from a teacher/mentor or other (creative) person to help you with your creative work?

When I was still a student, I met up with an illustrator that I looked up to a lot. He invited me to his studio to discuss my portfolio. He looked at it all and said, “why are you trying to create all different kinds of art in different mediums? When looking at you and the majority of your work (I was wearing a botanical patterned dress, which I almost always do) you have a big affinity with nature, florals and detailed drawing. Drop everything else and devote yourself to what you love most.” Best advice ever 🙂 .

What is your creative dream at the moment?

I just gave birth to my first child so at the moment I’m hoping to create a routine where I’m both a mother and an illustrator 🙂 . But for the future I hope to create more gallery work, and balance that with my client work. I just moved to a new house where there is a huge studio space, and I hope to divide and decorate it into two parts, one where I can paint and draw freely and one for the deadlines.

Who are your favourite surface pattern designers/illustrators and why?

There are a lot of illustrators that I like, almost impossible to name favourites… When it comes to current artists, check out Aitch (I love her colours and the folk inspired designs) and Zoe Keller (incredible details!), for past artists one of my all-time favourites are the animal drawings of Albrecht Dürer, his pen strokes are almost poetic.

What is your best recommendation for other (emerging) designers?

Basically the same as the advice I got: do what you love most and devote yourself to it.

Contact & more of La Scarlatte:

Visit the website of La Scarlatte!
Buy original artwork, cards, posters, scarfs and the dress you saw in this blogpost in her shop.
Follow La Scarlatte on Instagram or Facebook
Or contact Pauline if you have a request for a project

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