Coral Fowley is a Textile Artist based in the South East of England, combining Digital Printing on Fabric with Embroidery. We first met Coral at New Designers 'One Year On' a few years ago and got to chatting about digital fabric printing and her practice. We absolutely love seeing her design files come through Bertha (the printer) as we know we are only getting one part of the puzzle, so love then seeing her Instagram posts pop up, where we get to see what she has worked into the fabric bases that we have printed for her. I think you'll agree they are beautiful!
That is it that draws you to work with fabric and what benefits to your process does Digital Fabric Printing bring?
I have always had a fascination with fabric, more so that other mediums. I love experimenting with different materials and surface manipulation. I initially trained as a screen printer however Digital Fabric Printing is now at the core of my process. I create prints, I then work into them using other textile techniques such as hand embroidery. I adore the fusion of the digital with the traditional.
How would you describe your work and what do you see as your greatest career related achievement so far, something you're particularly proud?
I would describe my work as conceptual yet interactive textile art. Although my work visually appears abstract there is a lot of research behind each piece. The beauty of textiles is that it is intentionally tactile. It is a sensory medium, I encourage exhibition visitors to touch my work and connect physically with it.
My greatest career achievement to date has to be my solo exhibition last summer. It was also the most terrifying. As an artist exhibiting my work is what I am working towards, I can’t wait for the next one.
Describe your work space?
I have two dedicated work spaces, one small desk is full of my inks and paints. I call this my messy desk. My second desk is where I do all my digital work, scanning in my paintings and textures, editing images and creating new compositions.
The beauty of embroidery is that I can work anywhere. The large scale pieces are slightly trickier and I usually work at the dining room table. For the smaller hoop pieces, I love working in coffee shops, a change of scenery is always welcome and sometimes needed.
When do you work best, are you up with the lark or a night owl?
I usually relate more with a night owl, only because I find myself totally unaware of the time and working right through until the early hours. However there are some tasks that require natural sunlight, the most important for me is colour matching threads with my Digitally Printed Fabric.
Where did your love for art/design originally develop from, what or who, have been your influences?
Yayoi Kusama is my absolute idol. I adore her work and am constantly inspired by her approach to working and how prolific she is as an artist.
I fell in love with textiles when I saw sculptor Rowan Mersh work. Although my work has developed, I am still inspired by his work and how multiples of simple shapes create fluidity.
In terms of procrastination, what are you doing, when you should be doing something else and what, if anything is your 'impossible task'? The thing that you struggle most to motivate yourself to do work wise?
The great thing about embroidery is that I can listen to music, podcasts and binge Netflix shows for hours without feeling guilty.
My procrastination crutch is definitely social media. I love Instagram, I find it inspiring and love sharing my work. However, I can easily get lost in the comparison loop. I have now taken to using planning apps and limiting my usage of the app for my work and my well-being.
How do you overcome designers block?
I just have to ride it out, I do try and limit my social media use. It only makes me feel worse about not making.
I just keep busy, drawing or focusing on things which usually are last on my todo list; photographing previous work, updating my website and applying for open calls.
We like to hear about new and up and coming designer and artists, can you recommend someone new or new to us, that we should know about, and why do you like their work?
Alexandra Knie, is an amazing artist based in Spain. Although an established artist I only stumbled across Alexandra’s Instagram earlier this year. Her work is incredible and bridges the gap between art and science. She is a true inspiration to my practice.
What is the best advice, you’ve ever been given, business, creative or both and who gave it to you.
While its not advice in the traditional sense, the following phrase as changed the way I approach everything from my relationships to my practice.
“Negativity breeds negativity.”
It’s a pretty famous phrase and I am not sure who said it or where I heard it but its changed everything.
The way I feel about my own creative urges is a rollercoaster, however looking for the positives in every situation has allowed personal and creative growth. In particular, when it comes to creative blocks. If I feel in a negative space, I will never see my own work as successful and that is only self destructive.
What advice would you give your younger self?
That creativity is multifaceted. Allow your creativity to rule you rather than societies pressures of what is successful. Happiness is the only measure, everything works out if you let it.
What your favourite thing about working with BeFab?
I like knowing who is printing my designs. My work is so personal to me and I know working with BeFab means they are being printed with the same care and attention that I have for them.
I also value how reliable BeFab are. They are my trusted printers.
Aw Coral, thank you! That thing about, care and attention, it's what we prid ourselves in the most, (well that and being good at the printing, I giess that's pretty important!) is makeing sure that every designer, maker or artist knows that we care just as much about there designs as they do, because that's our background and the get it.
Check out more of Coral Fowley's work here: