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Lillian Farag

Tell us. Tell the word! What is your name and where are you from?

I'm Lillian Farag and I work out of my studio in Brooklyn, New York.

So, how long have you been a handmade designer for and how did you get started?

I've always worked on handmade items in some way or another. When I was in high school I used to hand paint purses or make my own greeting cards and sell them to friends and family. So I guess you can say that I've been a maker for a while now.

I graduated from Savannah College of Art and design (SCAD), majoring in Fibers Arts where I obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts. That is where I really started to get more involved with dying and printing on fabrics and surface design in general. 

I really started to pursue turning my craft into a business about 2 years ago. After moving to New York and working in the fashion industry for 6 years creating prints for big brand retailers (mostly working in photoshop etc.), in my heart I knew I wanted to get back to creating work by hand and focusing on my own ideas. I had a decent amount of knowledge and wanted to see how I could use it to make a business out of what I loved to do most. 

Why do you make what you make? 

The main focus of my brand is always the artwork itself. I tend to experiment with a lot of different products and collaborations, but the thing that stays most consistent throughout all of it is my hand in the process.  Most everything I create is hand painted or drawn and sometimes manipulated digitally. Being a surface print designer is exciting in that way because there really isn't one single product to focus on and I love that. It’s exciting to see my work on a dress or a bag but then turn around and see it on a surfboard as well. My brand is relatively new and constantly evolving which I've learned to embrace.  It keeps me spontaneous and fresh.   

What is the rocket science behind your products or designs? What materials do you use, what is the creation process like, and how long does it take you?

Everything I make most often is hand painted in the beginning. I usually start my studio days mixing paints into tiny jars and painting pieces inspired by whatever comes up. I love to experiment with color, shapes and textures sometimes bringing in new materials. 

I rarely create work with a specific product in mind.  Sometimes an opportunity comes up where someone will see the design and want to collaborate using it on something they've made. It’s most exciting when that happens because it gives the artwork a whole new life that I couldn’t have anticipated. I love the spontaneity of it!

If anyone could wear or own a piece, who would you geek out for? 

I often geek out anytime older more sophisticated women buy my pieces. I don't design for anyone specific in mind. However, I like to think that the person who buys a bag or kimono is someone who can think outside of the box and feel inspired to create a really unique look with it in mind. I have always been a fan of Iris Apfel, she is a good example of that. I absolutely LOVE that she breaks all "rules" (or lack there-of) when it comes to fashion and accessories. I feel a connection to that way of thinking.

What inspires you in general? Business stuff aside, what makes you feel like “fuck yea – this is exciting.” 

I love living in this city at this time in my life, where finding inspiration around me is so crucial to my craft.  I get really inspired by how people express themselves though clothing or hair color. There is a freshness about it that I find super exhilarating. People watching has been something I've learned to really love. Everyone here is just doing their thing, making it work, I find that inspiring in it's own way. I love to thrift shop and rummage through old bins at flea markets. I also LOVE to dance. I can come off as quiet and shy, but any of my friends would tell you "put her on a dance floor, and she'll show her true colors." I'm not ashamed!

Was there a point in building your own company when you felt like, “Shit. This is a bad idea.” Any bumps in the road you had to overcome?

Uhh yes, everyday! Just kidding. In all honestly, whenever you take something that you feel extremely passionate about and start worrying about how others will perceive it, or whether or not it will sell, it loses its sparkle and excitement.  I struggle with that every day.  As my business grows, so does the pressure of creating for reasons other than just to create for art’s sake! When you can step away from all that "business noise" that is when the MAGIC happens! (this is where I like to use that special *sparkle emoji*)

What were you like as a child?

As a child I was always carrying around a little briefcase with ALL of the art supplies I could get my little fingers on. I grew up as an only child and raised by a single mother who worked a lot. So as I spent countless hours alone, I found ways to entertain myself by making collages and painting in every book I ever owned (which I now regret). I loved movies and magic and anything fantastical.  I was really into Shel Silverstein and practically memorized every poem in Where the Sidewalk Ends. There's something about his crassness that I felt I could relate to as a child.  His illustration style has hugely influenced my work today.