For our first drop of Summer 2018, Hemlock Hat Co. launches our debut artist collaboration teaming up with celebrated creative, illustrator and pattern artist Llew Mejia. We got in touch with Llew to ask a few questions about how the Westbourne came to life, his artistic process summer days and his inspirations.
1) When did your illustration work begin and who are your design heroes?
I began in art school, but that was just the beginning of what I do now because I never really thought I would also do textile design. It branched out and I'm really glad it did because it's arguably more interesting seeing your work on people's beloved personal objects.
As far as inspirations I can't name a lot of people who are heroes but I can say that I'm really inspired by people who went nameless and worked in textiles in the early 40s- late 60s they are my biggest influences.
2) As an illustrator, where did your inspiration for the 'Westbourne' print come from?
I also get a lot of inspiration from antique etchings of nature from scientific illustrators . I find that for this one it was especially helpful to look at books such as the Cabinet of Curiosities. As well as books by Ernst Haeckel, who's also one of the greatest illustrators of ocean life in all of history. I also make it my own with color and style but you get the idea.
3) Have you ever tackled an underwater/sea-life print? If so, how was this one different?
I have done so before yeah, I think it was more fun just because I got to do whatever I wanted and I hadn't drawn certain animals in the print until this one came along so that was great. I think also the application of it on a hat I had never done that before which I was really stoked on!
4) When creating a print or illustration, where do you typically begin and what are some steps between concept and final product?
I usually look at a lot of imagery online and otherwise but I like to gather as much different reference as possible be that going outside and getting some sun or going to an aquarium for reference, or just looking over my collection of scientific illustration books I think getting your eyes on different things is important to create an end product that's varied . Then comes the boring stuff sketch, scan , finagle , modify, sketch, color and final ;)
5) What is your process when in the early stages of an illustration? Is most of your work initially hand-drawn and eventually finished on the computer?
Yeah it totally depends on the project some are start to finish analog work and others are digital.
It depends what kind of look the client likes a lot of the time it's easier for all of us if I start analog and end digital so we can modify colors easy for printing processes. But I like doing both they each have their upsides and downsides.
6) You have a unique perspective on American and Mexican culture; are there any specific experiences that you drew from in creating the Westbourne print?
Hahaha. I can't say directly that there were any specific experiences but I suppose subconsciously all my work is influenced. I spent some time in Australia at the Great Barrier Reef as well as swam with some sharks when I was a kid in Mexico which in hindsight I don't understand why my parents were chill with that. I guess no risk no reward or something haha.
7) What is your favorite Hemlock Hat Co. style? (Other than the Westbourne!
I think I would have to say the Cape Town, just because it reminds me of the very retro era of design in Hawaiian bark cloth style shirts. It pays homage and I think that's important and it's nice and subtle.
8) Describe your ideal summer day.
Cloudy, bit of rain, humid but altogether tropical, hopefully near a coast surrounded by beach life and the smell of the ocean.
9) Outside of making art, what are some of your interests?
I read books on psychology, I also really like looking at art shows in town , traveling as much as I can without going broke haha and Netflix and chilling heavily.
10) What are you working on right now? After we launch the Westbourne, there are bound to be new eyes on your work!
Haha let's hope so! Eh at the moment a artist spot with a art material company, a few deals with hotels that hopefully pan out and then the usual helping out surf life companies which is always good and I'm always down to work with folks like that ;) that's all I can say for now!
See more work from Llew Mejia via his website.