"...if you want to create for a living, put your work out in the world daily. Doing so has lead to some amazing opportunities I never would have had..."
Artist Barbarian (real name Barbra Ignatiev) sure has a way with bright bold botanical-inspired patterns. From her local Oakland neighborhood in California, Barbra gave us a few minutes of her time explaining how she works creatively. Barbra has emphasized the importance of being creative every single day, and shared with us her history of maintaining a daily painting practice.
Barbra recently stopped by the Redbuble San Francisco offices to do an in-house demonstration of how she creates her patterns. We got to see a glimpse into the way she works and what makes her tick.
Be sure to check out her shop for more luscious floral prints.
Where do you draw inspiration from? I love your light, bright palette.
One of my favorite things is to step outside and go for walks around my Oakland neighborhood, where there is a great variety of plants and flowers growing. I also take many trips to the beach and local hiking spots. This lushness and adventurous spirit shows up in my work through my colorful palette and subject matter.
"Being creative is a brave act and I hope that through my work I inspire people to live creative lives, whatever form that takes. Life is short - make stuff, do what you want, be the human you are!"
How have you developed style or aesthetics over the years?
About 2 years ago I started a daily practice of doing one painting a day. It changed my life. I gave myself 30 minutes to complete a painting and post it. That forced me to not be perfect and gave me the experimental outlook that produced my style today.
I mainly paint loose florals and ikat tribals because those are the things that make me happy and put me in a sense of flow. I see my style as ever-evolving and changing. I think my style will always have elements that are free, colorful, and loose because those are the things I crave in life. Abundance, freedom, and happiness.
Can you tell us about your background – how did you get into creating, have you always been creative?
I have always been an expressive person and feel deeply stifled when I’m not allowed to express myself. Some times the stifling is self-inflicted – not being brave enough to make things, worrying about outcomes. For a long time I did not make anything. I was sad then. After some soul searching I realized I needed to make stuff to truly be happy. That’s when I made a daily challenge for myself. Being creative is a brave act and I hope that through my work I inspire people to live creative lives, whatever form that takes. Life is short – make stuff, do what you want, be the human you are!
What advice or tips do you have for people who want to expand or increase their creative output or creativity?
Cannot say this enough – you need a daily practice! And, if you want to create for a living, put your work out in the world daily. Doing so has lead to some amazing opportunities I never would have had had I not gotten brave and committed to painting every day.
For instance, I’ve had the thrill of collaborating with the Sakroots brand on a new print for their accessories line. Being a fan of the brand for years it has been awesome seeing my art come to life on their products. Keep your practice simple, keep limits and guidelines so it is sustainable and stays fun. Most of all, make stuff you are excited about – not what you think people will like. If you put your work out there, eventually you will find that sweet convergence of what you like to make and what people like to buy. Then focus on that.
What’s your favorite Redbubble product to design for and why?
I love the challenge of creating a pattern that will work for many products. Lately it has been fun to see my floral prints on the new Chiffon Tops. I get really excited about the studio pouches for some reason – they are a great little multi-purpose accessory and I have so many of them. Throw pillows are great for brightening up rooms and my patterns work really well on them. We perhaps have too many Barbarian pillows in our home!
"I have learned that being entrepreneurial is more than simply working for yourself. It is a spiritual mindset, especially if you want to sustain your success."
What has been the biggest artistic or professional learning curve you’ve gone through?
I have learned that being entrepreneurial is more than simply working for yourself. It is a spiritual mindset, especially if you want to sustain your success. I’m still working at my mindset and I hope that I always am! I am a self-help nerd and have taken business classes, read a lot and am continuously learning.
Not only has this helped me in business, but in life and relationships. I think anyone could benefit from an entrepreneurial mindset because it is all about realizing you are alive to be happy and also help people.
What’s your creative process like – can you walk us through a normal day of painting, drawing or creating?
I create patterns the old fashioned way – where you cut up the paper to make the repeat. It is a fun challenge and a bit of a mind-melter and it also forces me to be brave. Every day I set up my creation station on our dining room table – its where the light comes in the best. The act of setting up every day gets me in the mindset to create and some days if I’m not feeling it I know if I simply set up my station I’ll suddenly be in the mood.
Once I am set up, I loosely sketch out an idea with pencil. I paint a lot of florals which are made up from my brain and I try to come up with a pleasing juxtaposition first. Then I paint in watercolor, using intuition and music as my guide. I try to just get into the zone and not plan. When I did a demo at the Redbubble offices in San Francisco I requested funk music – always helps loosen me up! I try to put a cap on how long my patterns take otherwise they can get very boring and stiff-looking. I shoot for 30-45 minutes of drawing and painting time. If it doesn’t work out, I simply paint another!