In conversation with Bristol based designer Rosie Carmichael
Welcome to the wild and "low-fi" world of Bristol based artist Rosie Carmichael.
Can you share a little about your background and where you grew up?
I was brought up in inner-city Birmingham, surrounded by wax crayons and poster paint. I always wanted to be an ‘artist’. I loved reading and the worlds I could get lost in. Drawing was a way for me to share my interpretations of the words of others. I did my BA in illustration at Bristol UWE where I started working on more graphic projects. It was then I realised how atmosphere could be created through subtle uses of shape, colour, text, material and medium. Although my interpretation of the word ‘artist’ has changed, I feel I’m still working towards my childhood dream, 25 years later.
I always wanted to be an ‘artist’ when I grew up, I loved reading and the worlds I could get lost in by doing so. Drawing was a way for me to share my interpretations of the words of others.
What is it about the energy of Bristol that inspires you?
There are so many creative people, artist run-spaces and projects here. It means there are always opportunities to get involved in. I feel most inspired when working on projects from across creative industries, whether that be with writers, filmmakers, or musicians. Bristol provides an amazing space to make this happen!
You describe your visual style as a strong ‘ lo-fi’ – aesthetic. How has your creative output evolved in recent years?
I used to make zines with my friend Kali when we were 16. I think an element of that DIY punk aesthetic has stuck with me. At University I traced the visual roots of punk to Dada and Bauhaus, two design movements that have also informed my style. Another recurring motif in my work is inspired by science fiction; linking back to the zine influence, with the first ever fanzines credited to being created by science fiction fans.
A recurring motif in my work is inspired by science fiction – linking back to the zine influence. The first ever fanzines were created by science fiction fans!
Although my work is a lot more polished now, I think there is still a warmth and sense of the handmade that comes from those influences. I mainly work with collage, restricting myself to found material from old newspapers, magazines, and books, and later exploring infinite options of composition, scale and colour, digitally.
Do you get much opportunity to travel?
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Peru and Vietnam in the last year; travelling with other creatives and turning the trips into projects has brought more personal value to those experiences. Whether it’s painting murals on the outskirts of Lima, or connecting with local artists and discovering the art scene in Ho Chi Minh City, its always a shame to leave, but after both these trips I’ve been inspired to get back into the studio and make new work.
Tell us about your studio. What do you surround yourself with?
I run and work from a shared studio, Loft 6D, an open space, home to over 20 creative practitioners from hugely varied backgrounds. Fine artists, designers, shoemakers animators, seamstresses and musicians to name a few.
These are the people that have the biggest impact on my work; good advice, new contacts and lots of exciting collaborations have come about by sharing space with such a variety of people.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m just coming to the end of running a month-long artist residency at Loft 6D Studios; working with a photographer, illustrator and painter to produce a collaborative exhibition. I’ve been calling in favours from various creative friends to run workshops, seminars and critiques throughout the process. I enjoy facilitating as much as creating and hope to continue collaborating in this way.
Maybe it’s crazy to rely on a piece of equipment that is so quickly becoming completely redundant, but I can’t live without my photocopier.
Creatives often have a coveted piece of kit, what’s your most loved design tool?
My photocopier! Is my favourite and most used piece of kit. Maybe it’s crazy to rely on a piece of equipment that is so quickly becoming completely redundant, but I can’t live without it at the moment.
I have a stack of printed ephemera that I hunt through at the beginning of most projects, before manipulating on the photocopier or scanner, adding hand-drawn elements and finally composing my work digitally.
Self-employment has given me time to be more creative and explore passion projects.
And for the rest of the year, what are your personal or career aspirations?
I took the plunge and went freelance two months ago. So my main focus is keeping my head above water and scraping together enough money to pay rent! However, this step into self-employment has given me time to be more creative and explore passion projects.
I’ve always been interested in creating work that surpasses the boundaries of the printed or digital page. Although rarely have the opportunity to do so; one of my recent projects, Kinetic Conscription, was developing a piece of dystopian fiction into publication and live performance. I’m really looking forward to working with the writer, Elizabeth Kane, on a new project this year. We’ll be using sound and projected visuals to tell a story.