We're not sure what kind of reputation Edith Rewa had back in school, but judging by her work these days, we wouldn't be surprised if she was crowned 'most likely to chair a plant appreciation society'. The talented illustrator can often be found with her nose in the bushes, studying the native flora scattered across suburban front yards – an activity that informs most of her work.
In case you missed the memo, Edith is also the lovely lady behind the floral artwork found in the 2019 frankie diary (see it in full over here). To celebrate the release of the diary, we had a chat with Edith to find out how her designs came together.
For those who aren’t across your awesomeness, please tell us a bit about who you are and what you do. Hello, I’m Edith (or Edie). I spend a lot of time illustrating plants – mostly native Australian flora to share my enthusiasm about them with you all! Sometimes I draw for myself and sometimes they end up in designs for clothing, books, branding or - in this case - the 2019 frankie diary.
We’re rather chuffed with the patterns you designed for this year’s diary. What was your inspiration? I have recently relocated from the Blue Mountains back down to Melbourne, so I’ve been looking at different kinds of plant landscapes every day. A lot of the patterns in this year’s diary developed from plants, colours and patterns seen along the naturestrip during my neighbourhood strolls. There's a spectacular firewheel tree planted at the corner of the park by my studio in Brunswick East, and a plethora of different flowering gums, wattles and planted correa.
Talk us through the process from brainstorming to sketching, and then the final designs. Before I start brainstorming for a project, there are usually a few ideas already floating about in my noggin that are pushing to be let out and explored further. I was already feeling pretty excited about Melbourne’s front gardens, so this was the perfect opportunity. It grew from simple sketchbook elements, isolated and repurposed into patterns. I used my trusty black pen, copic markers, ink, gouache, textas and pencils to play around and create a combination of naive, abstract and textural patterns, mixed in with my usual detailed sketches. These were scanned onto my computer, where I played a little more with composition and repetition in Photoshop. I worked with the frankie team to solidify the visual direction, then together, we whittled it down from around 14 different pattern ideas.
What is your personal connection with Australian flora? You’ve done a lot of research over the years! I think growing up among Australian flora gave my bones a really deep appreciation of their particular beauty.
How did you feel when you first got your mitts on the 2019 frankie diary? Did it look like you expected it to? Pretty special! Books and printed media are my favourite mediums to work on. I loved opening up the pages when I got it – it feels so nice to flick through. It was exciting to see it all come together in one place.
Is there one pattern that you have a particular fondness for? I think my favourite would have to be the scribbly gum pattern (July). I had fun working in a loose, playful way with that one. My other favourite would be the paper daisy pattern (December). I think it captures just how cheery I feel when I see their buttery centres looking up at me!
How would you like people to use the diary? I hope that this diary stimulates and encourages nature-loving frankie readers to look above and around a little bit more. Check out the leaf glossary at the back of the diary for some cool plant facts.
What makes your artistic style unique? That is a tricky question. I guess everything I do comes from a big bunch of things I've learned and seen and stored away in my brain somewhere. I think everyone has their own lens on life, and that translates down the arm, into the pen, and onto the page.
What do you love about what you do?
I love being able to learn, illustrate and share my love of native plants with you all.
To get your hands on a copy of the 2019 frankie diary, head over to our online store or pop by any good newsagent.
Photos by Georgie Blackie.