In conversation with

Nellie Ryan

In conversation with

Community is at the heart of everything we do here at Max and with the ongoing ebb and flow of good news to bad, we think it’s important to connect with one another now more than ever. In order to keep connected with you during this time, we’ve launched the first of our Max Workshops in collaboration with NZ textile designer Nellie Ryan.

Nellie Ryan is an NZ artist, textile designer and the mastermind behind some of our most loved prints. Nellie boasts an impressive portfolio of varying work from illustration and textile design to graphics.

Whilst taking us through her botanical pencil drawing process, we were lucky enough to be given some insight into Nellie’s creative process and how she approaches her work.

Nellie Ryan

Inspired by silhouette, Nellie begins her process by studying the various shapes of her chosen flower - the unusual twists, turns and bends that make it unique.

Simplicity is often a driver in Nellie’s work, showing us one her favourite sketches,

“It doesn’t have to be a beautiful, expensive flower but something like that (a weed) I loved because it had quite interesting shapes.”

As Nellie starts to sketch, she demonstrates how the pressure applied to the pencil and line tension helps to tell the flowers story while keeping the sketch fantasy like and ethereal in the process.

Sketching the delicate petals to small indents, you can tell she holds an appreciation for the imperfect forms of nature.

Nellie Ryan

Approaching her illustrations with a ‘no rules’ methodology, perfectionism isn’t strived for but something that takes time. Talking about process, Nellie acknowledges that behind all her designs are a variation of others that didn’t work out and it’s not about getting it right the first time but trusting the creative process to eventually get the final illustration.

“You see artists or designers who might be showcasing four beautiful illustrations or botanical drawings, behind those four there are probably 30 working drawings before the time they got to that point so don’t be precious.”

Highly recommending lots of paper and the mindset of not being too precious, Nellies encouragement through the drawing process is to keep trying because the first sketch is never the final product!

Head over to our IGTV to take part in the workshop.

Photography by

Liv Hemus and Nellie Ryan

Words by

Courtenay Lewis

Nellie’s latest textile prints