Meet Zoe

MEET ZOE


Meet Zoe Wenban, Textile Design student and winner of the Applied Art Batsford Prize and Cass Art Award 2018, hosted by Pavilion Books.

Creating everything from general surface designs and illustrations, to needlepoint and cross stitch pieces, Zoe’s work may appear colourful and celebratory but it often contains a darker conceptual meaning.

See her work at New Designers, exhibited by Falmouth University at the Business Design Centre from 27-30 June 2018.

www.zoewenban.com
Follow Zoe on Instagram

Hi Zoe! Congratulations on your recent win of the Applied Art Batsford Prize and the Cass Art Award. How has winning the prizes helped you so far?

Thank you very much! It was such an honour to win one prize, let alone two. I’ve been super busy since the awards ceremony as I’ve only just handed in my degree work, so have since been putting up my final show at Falmouth University and preparing my graduate portfolio. The prizes will be so beneficial for all the final material costs for my course. Winning the awards has also definitely boosted my confidence to show my work and be proud of it too.

Photo by Ellouise Gray 

No More Mr. Night Sky

Your designs are playful and brilliantly captivating. How would you define your creative style? 

I like to think my designs are definitely playful, colourful and enjoyable to look at, and ultimately showcase my style as an illustrator and surface designer. All of them, however have their own individual concept—many of which hint to a darker undertone.

My No More Mr. Night Sky wallpaper design, for example, is a faded gradient from orange to blue, which has a constellation over the top. Whilst this may look calm and reassuring, it actually alludes to how the stars disappear into an orange glow over cities due to light pollution. It is concepts like this that I have featured across my final degree design collection, which gives my designs more of a purpose and message.

Your designs are playful and brilliantly captivating. How would you define your creative style? 

I like to think my designs are definitely playful, colourful and enjoyable to look at, and ultimately showcase my style as an illustrator and surface designer. All of them, however have their own individual concept—many of which hint to a darker undertone.

My No More Mr. Night Sky wallpaper design, for example, is a faded gradient from orange to blue, which has a constellation over the top. Whilst this may look calm and reassuring, it actually alludes to how the stars disappear into an orange glow over cities due to light pollution. It is concepts like this that I have featured across my final degree design collection, which gives my designs more of a purpose and message.

No More Mr. Night Sky

Have you always been interested in design? What made you want to work in textile print?

I’ve always had such a huge love of colour and pattern and have constantly collected scraps of fabrics and papers. I always knew I was interested in design, but it wasn’t until I visited New Designers 2014 (the multi-university textile graduate show in London) that I knew for certain I wanted to study textile print.

I love combining my illustration style with a practical use for fabric or surfaces, and the Falmouth course was everything I loved – colour theory moodboard making, screen printing, etc. I’ve had such an amazing three years meeting like-minded people and studying my passion. I can’t wait to make a career from it.

What Are They Waiting For?

The subjects in your works are very intriguing, for example, the characters in ‘What Are They Waiting For?’, the snake in ‘Botanical Serpent’… Where do you get the inspiration for your prints?

It mostly depends on what the theme of imagery is that I need to depict. It can be from real-life objects, images in old books or art films, but also sometimes it’s purely my imagination. I like to use my university library a lot for visual inspiration and I’ve always been drawn to photography books. I am often inspired by unique moments that have been captured and the stories within these pictures.

My What Are They Waiting For? design was inspired by the photograph ‘What are all these people so worried about?’ by Barney Cowherd, which is a black and white photograph of a range of American people on a street corner. I loved the way this picture didn’t tell the whole story and as the viewer, you are left to respond to the title’s question.

Other designs are constructed from my imagination, in particular the Botanical Serpent painting. I then use my knowledge of colour to ensure the piece looks well balanced and visually strong.

The subjects in your works are very intriguing, for example, the characters in ‘What Are They Waiting For?’, the snake in ‘Botanical Serpent’… Where do you get the inspiration for your prints?

It mostly depends on what the theme of imagery is that I need to depict. It can be from real-life objects, images in old books or art films, but also sometimes it’s purely my imagination. I like to use my university library a lot for visual inspiration and I’ve always been drawn to photography books. I am often inspired by unique moments that have been captured and the stories within these pictures.

My What Are They Waiting For? design was inspired by the photograph ‘What are all these people so worried about?’ by Barney Cowherd, which is a black and white photograph of a range of American people on a street corner. I loved the way this picture didn’t tell the whole story and as the viewer, you are left to respond to the title’s question.

Other designs are constructed from my imagination, in particular the Botanical Serpent painting. I then use my knowledge of colour to ensure the piece looks well balanced and visually strong.

What Are They Waiting For?

You’re specialising in textile print but also create general surface designs and needlepoint. What does experimentation or collaboration in other mediums mean to you?

I’ve always loved the idea of my work being more than 2D, and experimenting with how I can translate my paintings into alternative mediums. The needlepoint idea was actually inspired by my grandmother, who constantly made cross stitch and needlepoint pieces. I noticed that the canvas had the design printed onto it first, and I realised that I could use my knowledge of print design to make my own. I never like to limit myself to one particular way of making or depicting motifs. I like to do a range of collaging, painting and stitching to show my illustrations.

Botanical Serpent

Bloomsbury Moth Design

You have already achieved so much and you’re still a student! What do you hope to do once you graduate?

I’ve got a busy rest of the year ahead of me as I’m exhibiting at New Designers in London this June. I have also been working on two illustration commissions for other Falmouth students – a recipe book and an album cover, both of which are due to be released in May 2018. I was really pleased with the outcomes of both of these, so hope to undertake more commissions in the future.

I’m currently looking into internships where I can learn the business aspects of running a textile business, as well as the creative side of the course. I would really love to start working full-time in the industry from next year. Winning the prizes has definitely been an amazing start to my journey.

You have already achieved so much and you’re still a student! What do you hope to do once you graduate?

I’ve got a busy rest of the year ahead of me as I’m exhibiting at New Designers in London this June. I have also been working on two illustration commissions for other Falmouth students – a recipe book and an album cover, both of which are due to be released in May 2018. I was really pleased with the outcomes of both of these, so hope to undertake more commissions in the future.

I’m currently looking into internships where I can learn the business aspects of running a textile business, as well as the creative side of the course. I would really love to start working full-time in the industry from next year. Winning the prizes has definitely been an amazing start to my journey.

Bloomsbury Moth Design

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