Elizabeth Olwen creates highly considered patterns and illustrations that are lovingly assembled, piece by piece, into something special. Born in Canada and based in Portugal, the print and pattern designer is inspired by the world around her — from the beautiful forests of Ontario to the pastel colors and tiles of Lisbon to her cherished and plentiful travels abroad.
“I had always adored patterns,” she shared with Ballpit Magazine, explaining that she had been sewing her own clothes from an early age, and was obsessed with wallpaper. “I decided to take a creative sabbatical in Berlin, to give myself the time to play around and see what happened,” she recalled. “A few months later I returned to Toronto with a portfolio of patterns and a fire in my heart. Now, I create patterns and illustrations and license them out for all sorts of different products, like bedding, rugs, pillows, aprons, floor tiles, stationery, fabric and so much more. That’s one of the things I love most about what I do — I never know what new kind of product collaboration is around the corner.”
Describing her wors as “fresh, whimsical, organic yet graphic, graceful and modern, with a nod to days gone by”, her patterns are often floral or based on nature, a celebration of the strange and beautiful world we live in. “Sometimes my work is incredibly minimal and simple, other times, quite complex,” she relays. “I like to bury little hidden treasures in my work, little details that you only notice when you’ve taken time to really look at them.”
“Art has the potential to really move people, and therefore, I find art is full of hope,” she says. “And on a far more superficial level, art just brings beauty to the everyday… and I feel we need that now more than ever.”
Her work, driven by what she calls “the desire to leave something beautiful behind”, is printed on a varied assortment of products from decor to paper to fabric to bedding. Check out some of her intricate patterns in the gallery below.