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Eirian Chapman’s Creative Freedom

Eirian Chapman may have gone into graphic design “not really knowing anything about it,” but that didn’t stop her from coming out of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology with Honors in Communication Design.

Eirian is now a freelance illustrator and graphic designer whose work has been influenced by folk art, fashion, soft sculpture, cats and 60s posters, among many things. This spring, she dug back into the treasure trove of her childhood memories to come up with the design for The Future, which you can find in our Spring Collection. Here’s a little more about Eirian.

How did you first get into design?
I really wanted to study fine art at University but chose to do Graphic design instead, not really knowing anything about it. The fine art courses just didn’t seem as interesting. I only really started to ‘get’ design when I attended AGIdeas, a Melbourne design conference, and discovered the possibilities of graphic design and illustration.
How would you describe your style? What’s the most satisfying part of your work?
I like to think my style is kinda creepy and weird, the people I draw are always aware of the viewer. I’m really loving patterns and geometric forms, mixing them with stylized figures or portraits. My illustration style is very much influenced by my design background, and I do feel most excited when I merge the two together.

Star Women is an ongoing project where Eirian recasts her friends as star women. The colors were influenced by the palette used in the kitsch paintings by Vladimir Tretchikoff.

How do you keep motivated? Any career highlights?
A definite career highlight was quitting my full time design job to focus on my own style of illustration and design. Giving myself the time and space to really immerse myself in art was great! Going freelance has given me the opportunity to be involved in some great design and illustration projects and meet amazing people. For me, devoting time to do personal work as well as commercial projects is really important, having projects going on all the time is what keeps me motivated.

Who/what do you think are your biggest influences?
I’m going to say the internet :^) It has really helped me find a creative community to be inspired by and become a part of. Starting a blog and getting involved on twitter have been great motivators.

A lot of female illustrators are inspiring me at the moment; Beci Orpin, Jillian Tamaki, Rilla and Andrea Innocent to name a few.

The Octocat (half cat/half octopus) is the mascot for Eirian’s online magazine, the Crafty Magazine. “I thought if anything is going to be crafty or sneaky its going to be an octocat!” Says Eirian.

What inspired your shirt design for Poketo?
I was obsessed with Robin Hood and Peter Pan as a kid, (my favorite film was Hook!) I made a bow and arrow from sticks and string (Dad also carved me a sword from wood) and I would re-enact scenes. I have always liked the aesthetic look of arrows, the patterns, types of feathers used and also their mixed symbolic meanings of death, war and sexual attraction.

What’s Melbourne like? Could you tell us a little bit more about it?
The cliches of Melbourne are: graffiti covered lane ways, hole-in-the wall restaurants and galleries, bluestone city streets, people wearing black, but that’s only inner city Melbourne. I love riding my bike through the parks and one of my favorite things about Melbourne is watching the large fruit bats fly over as night falls.

Tell us about the art/design scene over there?
Melbourne is a great city to be creative in. I live in the inner north and there are a lot of fun places to explore, lots of exhibition openings to attend and great cafes and restaurants to meet people at. I love going to exhibitions at The Compound, a large shared space with an illustration agency, letterpress printers, design studios and a framer/silkscreen printer.

What are your favorite chillout pastimes?
A perfect day would be a bike ride along the bay and fish and chips on the beach. A gallery opening and dumplings after, anything involving food!

What do you think is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in life that has informed your work so far?
The need for creative freedom.

Check out Eirian’s design at
More from Eirian Chapman at

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