Ellen McKenna – The Love of Design

A closely cropped photo of Ellen McKenna sitting in front of a bold graphic painting and a selection of art supplies and books.

Ellen McKenna is a featured designer in the Next State Artwork Library.

What is exciting you about design in 2024?

I’m always excited about colour design and I’ve found myself thinking and talking about colour a lot this year. I think part of that is due to my studies into interior design which has a strong focus on colour schemes, but it infiltrates into all aspects of my life. It really is all around us – in fashion, interiors, advertising, film, street signage, fabric design. The list could go on and on – it is everywhere.

Are there any skills and areas of focus you plan to develop this year?

So far in 2024 I have been focusing on designing for fabric. I have really enjoyed working closely with my fantastic fabric partners in Australia and internationally. It’s very exciting when I launch a new bunch of designs and then I see them going out into the world to be sewn up into beautiful things. That thrill never gets old.

You’ve had a long career in painting and surface design now, how have you seen
your style evolve?

My style has evolved as time has passed, but interestingly, I have found myself coming full circle in some ways. Designs I created in the very beginning of my career still excite me and lately I have found myself exploring my archives and re-colouring designs with 2024 palettes. I’ve also come back to introducing photography into my designs – which is where I started back before I was a repeat pattern designer, when I was designing standalone prints for kid’s T-shirts for my own small brand Freckled Duck.

In terms of new designs, over the last few years, my style has become more experimental than I would have imagined I would be when I started out. I am always thinking of new ways to create art and new ways of technically creating them into repeat patterns. I’ve experimented with new mediums like waxy pastels, paint, water wash on canvas, pencil and now photography again.

What is your dream collaborative print project?

There are so many collaborations that would be dreamy but if I need to list a few that would be my ultimate (however unattainable) dream art / pattern/ exhibition/ design/ any kind of collaboration, right now my top 5 would be:

  • The National Gallery of Victoria
  • Marimekko
  • Ikea
  • Never Too Small
  • Nooworks

Ellen McKenna is not only a talented textile designer she is an artist who creates textural bold and modernist artworks that are available for sale through artist platform Blue Thumb Art Gallery. You can see how Ellen’s use or painting informs a lot of her textile design. As a creative Ellen is able to use her skills in digital design and traditional painting to get mutual outcomes for different end use.

As a designer Ellen is a wonderful example of how we need to take the time to play and experiment within our craft and also try new things. Ellen is a self taught artist and textile designer and her journey is one that inspires us to think about the long term learnings and opportunities we can create for our selves in design.

We are delighted to host a collection of Ellen McKenna’s fabric design in our Artwork Library

Discover Ellen McKenna Artwork in Blue Thumb Art Gallery https://bluethumb.com.au/artworks/search/ellen-McKenna

Learn more about Ellen and her creative pursuits on her website https://www.ellenmckenna.com/