It was while pregnant with her first child that Lamai Anne started to dabble in illustration on her computer – and winning an international design competition set about a career change.
“I have always been quite creative, but never really explored it enough. Growing up, I didn’t have the opportunity to go to university – I had to earn an income – otherwise I would have immersed myself in textile design then and there. Being pregnant gave me that opportunity,” says Lamai.
“After my first fabric collection showcased through Robert Kaufman three years ago, I was approached by a large homewares company to work with them. It was a dream come true.”
Hailing from a quiet semi-rural setting in Victoria, Lamai’s artworks draw on her love of Australian flora and fauna.
“I love gardening and nature. When we moved into our current home, there was a flowering gum in the backyard that had laid dormant – one day it just exploded, and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I knew I just had to capture that beauty somehow.”
Completely self-taught, each of her pieces has a strong focus on colour, and can take over two weeks to complete.
“My background as a signwriter helped me learn a lot about colour, and now I’m addicted. I get so wrapped up in a drawing that I need to step away for a few days. It’s a great way to reassess the design, especially the colour palette which is so important to get right – and it’s also a good opportunity to catch up on the pile of washing in the meantime!”
Lamai currently splits her time between her part-time role, her family and her own art.
“Working with buyers to develop product in a commercially driven company, you realise that as much as you want to be an artist who does your own thing, you need to find that happy medium – people respond well to passion, but not everyone is going to love your work. I love exploring different styles, but that can confuse people – so it’s important to stick to a distinctive style.”
Her current collection Native Grace features beautiful limited edition prints, with only 25 available in A1 size, and 50 in A2 (from $135).
“I feel like I’m constantly working on new pieces and trying new things. Being limited edition helps me explore further works, and it also means that I can give people something special, personal and exclusive.”
As hard as it can be to pick favourites, Lamai’s personal choice would be her Gum Tree print.
“I just love the humble gum. So many people will walk past it without taking much notice, but all it takes is a closer look to discover all of the colour and beauty – it’s simply inspirational.”
Lamai shares her advice with other budding artists: “Don’t be afraid to show your work to the world – and don’t ever think that you’re not good enough. Rejection hurts, but it doesn’t have to hold you back. Dust yourself off and try again, because you never know when that ‘yes’ will be lurking behind that ‘no’.”
Lamai has teamed up with homewares brand Nathan + Jac to produce a selection of limited edition prints and cushions – stay tuned for the release in October! In the meantime, Lamai hopes to continue sharing her work with the world – and we hope that she continues to do so.
“Passion drives me. If this wasn’t really a part of who I am, then I wouldn’t do it. But now that I do, I couldn’t function without it.”