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Folio FocuS designer: Rima Tessman

Earlier this year, we created a Live Brief in partnership with Folio Focus for budding designers. We received some gorgeous submissions, with one of our top 3 being the work of Rima Tessman. Rima told us a little more about her work and style in our Wraptious Interview.

1) How long have you been a designer? Is it something you've always done?

I'm a self-taught artist - at university I studied English literature and French! I've always made art in some form or another, but over the past five or so years, I've embarked on a very focused path towards design and commercial illustration. 

2) How did your particular style develop? What were your influences?

Over the years I've dabbled in many different art forms - from humor writing to printmaking to textile art and embroidery, and I think that all the aspects I loved most about the things I've tried have contributed to the formation of my style. I was raised in a bi-lingual household, as my parents emigrated to the United States from Lithuania in the early 1950s. Since Lithuania remained Soviet occupied all throughout my childhood, they wanted to make sure that the language and culture was preserved for future generations, so I was pretty immersed in it as a child. Though it may not be immediately obvious in my art, Lithuanian motifs and themes have definitely influenced it.

3) Which artists do you admire? 

There are so many! But Marc Chagall, Alex Katz, Louise Bourgeois, Maira Kalman, Becca Stadtlander, Mary Fedden, Mandy Patullo and the Gee's Bend quilters immediately come to mind. 

Illustrations by Becca Stadtlander

4) How did you take the step to start selling your art?

 I was experimenting with relief printmaking and someone asked if I was selling my prints, so I set up an Etsy shop. That was really the launching point for other opportunities at galleries and shows and such.

5) How did you start promoting yourself?

Initially I just had a Facebook, but that didn't turn out to be ideal for me. Recently I've really embraced Instagram as a platform to meet other artists and share my work. I also find it really helpful to participate in the various art prompts that go around, and to enroll in online courses (like Folio Focus!) 

6) What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome as an artist? 

Finding the time to bring to life all the ideas I have swirling around in my head, then sorting out which markets/companies they are the best match for. And then of course, finding the right people at those companies to approach as a freelancer! 

7) What's the best piece of advice you could give to emerging artists, from your experience? Hmm, well I'm a bit of an emerging artist myself, but I think that it's really important to put yourself out there and get as much exposure as you can by entering competitions, contributing to online forums, posting on social media and just trying to get as many eyes on your work as possible. I realized early on that the chances of simply "being discovered" without being really proactive in promoting yourself are rather low :) And this is still a struggle because I find it very difficult to say, "Hey, everybody, look at me!" I also think that it's important to make the kind of art that you would love to have yourself because that's how you're individuality comes through.

8) What was your process when designing for the brief?

I knew right away that I wanted to work traditionally with paint and canvas for this brief, but first I brainstormed words and emotions that it evoked and wrote them all down in a stream-of-consciousness. The color palette sort of resolved itself with this process, too, and then I just began by blending paints for the base layer. I put on some music that I felt would be conducive to a relaxed stated of mind because that's what I wanted to convey with the piece, and just went to town with paintbrushes, scratching implements, gold foil and a spray bottle! I touched the piece up a bit in Photoshop, but for the most part it was done traditionally.

9) In an ideal world, what would you be doing?

I would be represented by an agent so I could devote even more time to creating art for everything from book covers to gift products to home decor collections. I'd love to see my work on a plate (or a mug, or even a doorknob!) at Anthropologie. 

You can find Rima's cushion designs on our website. Or why not take a look at her own page


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