From when I first started out on Spoonflower, I have admired the fascinating designs of Tina Vey, an artist from New York City also known as Ottomanbrim (a name as quirky as her art). Her work is instantly recognizable with its striking use of colour, shapes and texture.
I would say that Tina is among the top most popular designers on Spoonflower; her contest entries usually garner the most ‘favourites’ of all, before a contest has even started! I was going to quote some of the ecstatic comments people made about Tina’s designs, but there are just too many to choose from. Please convince yourself by visiting her shop.
I’m happy and grateful that Tina agreed to answer some questions I had about her, and I hope that you will enjoy this glimpse into her life as an artist, and of course these gorgeous examples of her work! Clicking on the designs will lead you to their shop pages, where they are available for sale on fabric, gift wrap and wallpaper.
How did you come to be an artist?
I just grew up believing I had to be an artist. My mother was a painter and a welder and my father was a photographer. I was always painting and drawing as a kid and much preferred that to the obligatory piano lessons. I went on to study art in college. Between then and now there have been all sorts of twists and turns in my career path but my obsession with shape, form and color has persisted.
What is your favourite artistic medium / technique?
I love the computer! I am so thrilled to create art without all the mess. I am really fascinated with trying to duplicate a hand made feel in a vector program.
My early textile designs were cut paper and I did enjoy painting huge pieces of paper with bright gouache. I was always loved the beautiful subtle texture of the painted paper and loved cutting spontaneous shapes from it. But the gluing was so toxic and tedious and there were so many times I had to redo the piece because the glue would leak all over the painted pieces. Today I often will cut out a shape and scan it to try to recreate some of the freshness of the cut paper shapes.
Are there any subjects you are particularly drawn to?
Subjects that I am drawn to… well subjects that I am not drawn to are animals (even though I love animals especially cats) and people. I love abstract shapes. But it appears that most people love animal designs so I push myself to do them. And they tend to be best sellers on Spoonflower. So I’m really pleased when I push myself into areas I am not necessarily comfortable.
What I try to always achieve is an overall look to the design where all the elements are balanced and one thing does not stand out. Sort of like a nice outfit. I would rather someone say they liked the way I looked rather than they liked my shirt. The same goes for textiles. I want the eye to travel around and not focus on any one element. Someone once described my designs as having a place for the eye to rest. I like that description. I don’t want to overwhelm. I’m always trying to achieve something that appears simple and not overworked. In most cases though, I have worked on it tirelessly making minute adjustments to shapes and color. Sometimes I repeat “serenity now” from Seinfeld to get in the right mood.
What and who inspires you?
Philip Taaffe was a huge early influence. I remember going to a show of his paintings in New York in the 80s and was blown away. Looking at them just made me happy, they were giant textile designs.
Of course vintage textile design is a big influence. I always loved Marimekko and Vera. I always look to Matisse and Picasso for color reference. I love the color and shapes in Diebenkorn and Hopper paintings.
In this modern day world of computer artists I am fascinated by Sarah Bagshaw. She also seems to be drawn to simple shapes and opacities and how a slight change can give a piece a totally different look. I love her energy and fearlessness.
Would you please share some of your plans, hopes and dreams for your career as an artist?
I just want to keep learning more and more and trying to push myself out of my comfort zone. My goal has always been to only put work out there that I am happy with and that doesn’t happen that easily. I’m hoping that some day instead of reworking a piece 200 times maybe I’ll be happy after 80 or so reworkings.
You can also view (and purchase) Tina’s work on various products at her Society 6 shop, including art prints, bags, mugs, t-shirts, pillows, and even shower curtains and electronic device covers!