Featured Designer: The Gently Unfurling Sneak

FK talks to Anika from Melbourne based label, The Gently Unfurling Sneak.

How would you describe the style of your work?
It’s a bit of a mix of absurdity, vintage illustration, stripes, words and strange creatures. I make anything from clothing to framed collages to wooden and fabric accessories – it’s more about the illustration style on the pieces rather than sticking to a particular type of product.

What is your background in art and design?

I did a Bachelor of Creative Arts at Melbourne Uni but it was only towards the tail end of that course that I stumbled into using the old papers, imagery and words that formed that basis of what I now do. I started selling screen printed tees at the Rose St Artists Market in Melbourne whilst still at uni, and just kept going afterwards (mainly because I couldn’t think of another job I wanted to do). I also do a bit of web design on the side, which is something else that I stumbled into and really enjoy.

Who or what inspires your work?

I’ve always been a big reader, and I often re-visit my favourites to get the brain going on Wednesdays (Wednesdays are sometimes a struggle for reasons that remain unclear). I keep copies of Peter Pan, Catch-22, Northern Lights and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay in my studio in case of emergencies. Visually, my dog-eared Coles’ Funny Picture Books are still much beloved, and I keep going back to Max Ernst etchings, Gustave Dore, Russian Constructivism (more fun that it sounds), Magritte, anything fun and absurd.

What inspires you about Melbourne and what is your surrounding workspace like?
What I like about Melbourne is that there’s always something clever going on – every week there’s a new place to go that sells coffee, house plants and limited edition lithograph prints from a space about half a metre wide. Melburnians are tenacious and excitable in that way. My workspace is currently the spare room in my house, but I’m about to move into a new place called River Studios in West Melbourne which is EXTREMELY exciting. I’m very much looking forward to working around other people, because my talking/singing to myself habits are getting a bit out of hand.

Where does your name come from?!

Good question! It comes from my original name, Sneak Design, which is now an umbrella brand for my web design, illustration and everything else. My nickname is Neaks, so Sneak comes out of that, but as for the Gently Unfurling bit, I’m not entirely sure! I sat down in a sunny corner with a notebook, a lot of coffee, and the intention of inventing an intriguing and original name, and that’s what came out. People either love it, or they’re very confused.

What are the popular pieces in your work and what is your personal favourite?
The most popular thing I’ve made would be the hoody cape from this winter’s collection. It had a lining that I had digitally printed with one of my illustrations and even though it was the most expensive piece I’ve ever made, it sold out in no time! It’s up there with my favourites, but I’m also very partial to the Eyelashes paper cut,  the hoody dress (also all sold out) and the Shhh brooch, which can be very handy, and which I sell most often to librarians and school teachers.

What has been your favourite project so far?
In August I was invited to be part of a group exhibition for Craft Victoria’s Craft Cubed festival, which had the theme of Childhood. I made a group of six prints based around the idea of imaginary friends and it was so lovely to be involved with – excellent fun to make the pieces and the exhibition was just beautifully done.  Ahhh.

What are you planning for 2011?
So many things! I’d like to do some new accessories that will depend on whether I can get my occasionally dodgy equipment to do what I want, and I’m planning some new clothing for an August release. Firstly though, I need to figure out how I can get my leather-top desk up the stairs to my new studio – once that’s sorted, everything else will fall into place.



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