Becoming Cassidy Demkov

We started the Becoming interview series after reading Michelle Obama’s book Becoming in our book club a few years ago. We wanted to hear from women in different walks of life and how they were approaching creativity, mothering, career goals, and more. It’s been amazing to conduct these interviews and get a “behind the scenes” look at so many inspirational women!

This week’s interview comes from the intricately talented Cassidy Demkov. An artist, illustrator and designer, her inspiration comes from gardens and the colorful world around her. Her luscious floral motifs have been an inspiration to us as we come out with our new line of floral phone cases. We’re so excited for you to get to know Cassidy better!

Please write a short, 3rd-person bio about yourself

Cassidy is an artist and surface pattern designer living in Salt Lake City, Utah. She enjoys designing intricate hand-drawn & painted floral patterns. Her art & patterns are inspired by her love of traveling,  flowers, animals and vintage things. Her love for art began at a very young age; from the moment she could pick up a crayon her grandma & family was always encouraging her creativity. 

Cassidy has always had a love for art & architecture. That love is what originally drew her into the interior design field for many years including a summer spent studying in Florence, Italy. Her favorite part was working with the textiles & home decor. Her passion for color and pattern made her dream of designing her own textiles. When she was given the opportunity to return to college for Visual Arts & Graphic Design she knew she had to pursue it. While she was finalizing her Visual Arts degree she accepted a temporary job to gain experience which led her to creating art & patterns for paper collections. This opportunity gave her a lot of experience designing patterns & paper products. However, she still wanted to design her own textiles so after 5 years she left to pursue her dream. 

Currently, Cassidy works as an illustrator & surface pattern designer and has designed multiple fabric collections currently licensed by Cloud9 Fabrics. She also licenses her designs to be used on a variety of products such as women’s clothing, baby products, pet accessories, stationery & gifts. In addition to this she has started a small but growing stationery line where she incorporates many of her patterns & illustrations. She hopes to expand this stationery line into including a variety of stationery & lifestyle products. Most recently she has been spending time developing more designs and patterns for wallpaper, home decor, pillows and fabric which she plans to put more focus on in the next few years.

What do you consider yourself ? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business  person, educator, etc.?

I would consider myself a few things including artist, textile designer and illustrator. 

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what  you do now?

Mostly in Salt Lake City, Utah but I did live in Texas for a period of time when I was a child. My grandma and family always encouraged my love for art and creativity. 

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

My love for animals made me want to be a veterinarian until I realized what that really involved. Then I had being an Interior Designer in my head for a long time. I remember even dreaming up how I would design my dolls’ houses and decorating my own bedroom. 

Is there a person who has been influential in your chosen career path?

There are a lot of people who have been influential, including artists, designers and creatives I admire. I have also definitely had a lot of encouragement and support from friends and family to be able to do what I am doing now.  

What sparked your interest in art?

I remember my grandma always being so creative and really admiring her. Even her home decor and  garden always seemed very unique to me. The first piece of art that really caught my eye was “The Girl with a Watering Can” by Renoir. She had a print of it in her hallway that is now in my home. This interest grew over the years. Then, when I spent a summer in Florence and had the opportunity to see original works of art like Botticelli’s, the appreciation grew even more.

Years after that I have had some great opportunities to travel. My travels have always been focused on seeing historical architecture, museums &  gardens. This has had a huge influence on inspiring my creativity and design. Visiting so many beautiful villages, estates and gardens has influenced the design of my own home and garden.  

What inspired you to become a surface designer?

I was inspired to become a surface designer because it gave me a way to collaborate with other brands I admire. It also gave me the opportunity to see my artwork come to life on their products. Seeing a flat design come to life on fabric or a product that someone will use in their daily life is very rewarding. Anytime I am in a store I see products and instantly think of how I would design them or what patterns of mine would look good on them. I especially love designing fabric because I instantly get to see the way my designs inspire  another person’s creativity and all of the different things that are created with the fabric.  

What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?

I don’t necessarily have one individual piece, but I am proud of my stationery collection. It started out as a little side project to sell some of my designs on cards at a local shop, Salt & Honey Market. This little passion project quickly grew to become more than just a side project. 

I am also really proud of my recent fabric collection, Flora, because I was able to see so many of my floral patterns come together in one single project. This project took a lot of time and detail but overall it came together really well.

What is your design process like? Where do you find inspiration for new creations?

Anytime I am traveling or in my own garden I take tons of pictures of flowers. I save all of these images in folders so I have inspiration when I want to design a floral or other project. Sometimes I just go to my garden directly when the weather permits and I gain a lot of inspiration there. I spend time arranging bouquets or gardening which always inspires me to draw.

Then I sit down and sketch ideas. This is often ideas for future projects that I can easily reference. From these sketches I refine my ideas and patterns. After sketching, I trace over them to get a really crisp, detailed illustration. Depending on the style or detail of the project, I do additional layers with paint or more pencil drawings. From there I scan these drawings into Illustrator to create the final patterns. 

What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?

I received a set of Beatrix Potter books when I was a child and I was always fascinated by all of the cute drawings in the stories. I loved her style and creativity. Recently I visited her home in the Lakes District of England where I learned more about her life. I have grown to appreciate her as a person just as much as her art. She used a great deal of her wealth from the sales of her books to preserve land in the area she lived.  

Other artists and styles of art I really love are many of the Dutch Masters florals and impressionist artists including Renoir, Van Gogh and Monet. I definitely hope to work on my fine art skills in the near future. I would love to be able to create some of my own floral masterpieces.  

As far as textile designers, a few I greatly admire are the hand-painted interiors of de Gourney, the botanical prints by Josef Frank and the design work of Dorothy Draper. 

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from? Do you have a  personal motto?

A few of my favorite quotes, which I have incorporated into my own work and life are: “Even the smallest one can change the world,” (Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter).

“I’m going to make everything around me beautiful-that will be my life,” by Elsie de Wolfe.

How do your surroundings influence your work?

My surroundings have a great deal of influence on my work. I am much more creative in the months that  I am able to spend time outside in my garden and in nature. I think this is why I enjoy illustrating flowers so much. The little animals that live out in my garden have been featured in a quite a few of my designs because they inspire me. They make me smile every time I am gardening.  

What is a typical day like for you?

This varies a bit depending on the season. An ideal day is one where I am able to wake up and spend the early morning entertaining my pups and sitting in my backyard. When it is warm enough I like to spend the morning out there working and planning out my day. Once I have my tasks planned out for the day I get to work. This varies from day to day. I have days that are dedicated to my personal work projects and creative work.

Other days are focused more on client projects, my stationery brand sales, and packing/shipping products. I think a lot of people think being an artist means getting to just sit around drawing  flowers all day. But I do have to do a lot of other things like sales, packing/shipping, ordering products, restocking stores and even some accounting.

Do you have a secret talent? What is one skill that you are working on?

I don’t know that I have any secret talents, but I have a few skills I am working on and would like to focus more on in the future. One of these is floral arranging. Another is focusing more on some fine art skills such as oil painting. I would love to someday be able to create and paint florals like some of the Dutch Masters.  

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?

I personally think that there are so many wonderful online classes available. Having a budget for taking online or in-person classes will always make you a better artist, even if the class isn’t necessarily directly related to what you do. I have found that even something like a gardening class can easily spark my creativity. I also think it is important to try out many different art styles and constantly learn new skills. Doing this has helped me find the things that I enjoy creating. It’s also helped me realize that even though some things inspire me, I don’t necessarily enjoy them myself. Another piece of advice is that  you won’t be great at anything without continued work and practice. It takes a lot of experimenting to develop a skill. 

Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business?

This one is really tough because what is available or works for one person doesn’t always work for another.  However, I can say that if you really want to pursue your dream, you have to be willing to work for it. You also have to do the research. It requires a lot of trial and error. Another piece of advice I have for new artists is that you cannot expect to be successful immediately. It takes time to learn, grow and really refine your work. I highly recommend looking for jobs that will allow you to do this.

Once you are no longer growing or feeling fulfilled, it is time to move on from that and look for your next step or opportunity. This may even mean taking a step back financially so you can move forward. Leaving a full-time job to work for yourself means taking on so much more responsibility and sometimes even a pay cut. Personally, I’ve had to make some lifestyle changes because of this but my progress is worth it to me. I’ve been fortunate to have lots of support and understanding from friends and family. I have had to work much more than I did when I could just clock out and go home for the day.

Also, being willing to invest in yourself and business is big. You will see more growth by  doing so. Sometimes you have to work multiple jobs to help fund your dream. I actually started my stationery line to bring in a little extra income each month and now it has grown into a much larger portion. I have also had to do freelance jobs and pick up projects that I didn’t necessarily love. By working the extra hours and doing these things I have been able to continue working towards being able to pursue my own projects full-time.  

Is there anything more you would like to “become?”

This is a hard question to answer because there are so many things I would love to become. Career-wise I would like to see myself focus more on my home decor and interior textile designs in the near future. I’d love that to become a larger part of what I do. It’s difficult because I originally had home textiles as my main focus but along the way I have found that I still have a passion for designing stationery products, clothing and other non-home decor related things. I hope that in some way I am able to balance all of the things that I enjoy designing and creating.  

What is your long-term goal? or What do you hope to accomplish within the next 10 years?

I’d love to have more opportunities to collaborate with more brands while I also grow my stationery and home decor lines into their own unique things. I hope to grow my business to a point where I don’t  have to “do it all” and I can focus more on the parts that I am most successful like the creative direction  and illustration. 

 

You can read more of our Becoming interviews here.

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