Welcome to the beautifully bold world of Shandra Smith!
Shandra is a Canadian artist and self-taught surface designer. Her exceptional, vibrant patterns take life on textiles and are used for wall murals, puzzles and, of course, canvas prints.
We sat down with Shandra to find out what inspires her to create her fantastic florals and her working process.
Can you talk us through your method of creating a piece of artwork?
My process used to involve a lot of taking photos of colourful papers or craft items, then digitising them and manipulating them. But lately it’s been more intentional, thanks to some new digital brushes with botanical and flower shapes. There’s definitely a lot of experimenting, like “I wonder what would happen if I do this?” in terms of layering designs I wouldn’t necessarily think would go together. Sometimes the result is magic!
What is an art tool you use that you cannot live without?
My Wacom stylus and tablet. A fairly new addition that allows me more precision and a new direction for my work. Also, it's not exactly an art tool, but I can’t seem to work without a cup of herbal tea in my hand.
What artists influence you?
Collage artist Rex Ray, abstract artist Claire Desjardins and indigenous artist Ted Harrison
What do you think about when you're creating art? What influences the outcome of your artwork?
When I create, I don't really want to think. It's a way of getting out of my day-to-day life. There’s a lot of 'not thinking' going on, and its more of a feeling I’m striving for - kind of a 'letting loose' feeling - its very intuitive. On a personal note, I need to be creative most days. On a professional note, of course in order to sell or license my designs, I do need to consider colors and subject matter, so I adjust as required.
How do you know when a picture is completed?
The balance, the composition, the “feeling” of it. After a while, you just know.
How did you find your ‘Beautifully Bold’ style?
Years of just “showing up.” It’s definitely ever-evolving, you have to just keep creating work, then sift through the not-so-great ones to focus on the good ones. As for the “Beautifully Bold” term, a wall mural company that I work with came up with that description a few years ago and it kind of stuck. I do like to live my life in colour; pretty bold, but in a beautiful way.
Amongst your artworks of murals and patterns, correct me if I’m wrong, you seem to like creating colourful flowers, why do you think this is?
You’re right! I started off doing specifically abstracts and as I improved my digital techniques, I started making flowers because they are kind of loved universally and I realized if I adjusted the abstracts a bit and pinch them, I could use those funky colors to make some unique flowers. I also layered in some actual parts of flowers too from photographs that I had.
Do you have a story behind Fab Flower, Floral Explosion or Pretty Petals artworks?
I like the fact that flowers bring joy to people and the idea of blooming and growing applies to real life. People have told me they like my flowers because they are a mix of colors they wouldn’t expect, so I’ll just keep making them!