Nature lover and artist Tracey Wegner of My Little Print Studio was born and raised in the Riverland, from where she draws her inspiration to create her gorgeous cyanotype prints and artwork. From her extensive lived experiences in the country, Wegner aims to replicate the wonders of the place holds a special place in her heart.
A personal favourite of Wegner’s botanical-inspired prints are the ones that are placed in special double-sided glass metal frames, which offer a nostalgic and vintage feel. Finished with the perfect touch of a thick rope to make them hang in any nook of your cozy home, the prints are designed to help your worries float away, as you get lost in the beautiful patterns.
Wegner will be participating at the upcoming Gathered Design Market – Virtual Edition during the weekend of April 18 and 19, 2020 and I was fortunate enough to have an e-questionnaire with her – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, Tracey?
Tracey: I grew up in the small town of Cobdogla (near Barmera and Berri) in the Riverland. My parents had a vineyard and my sisters and I were always outside, where we’d play with our dog, ride bikes, and eat fresh fruit straight from the veggie patch. We climbed the trees on our property. We played tennis every summer and netball in winter. We helped my parents picked grapes and we loved exploring. My dad loves to go fishing and we were always near Lake Bonney or in the boat on the river. We went camping every year and would climb those crazy-high cliffs along the river’s edge where we found amazing seashell fossils. We would pick wild mushrooms and get stuck in ‘love grass’. We would hunt trap door spiders and set scorpion traps. We would roast marshmallows on the fire and loved to pull up the shrimp nets and catch yabbies. I guess you could say the country has my heart and creating art where nature is the forefront connects me to all those wonderful childhood memories I have.
Art was my favourite subject at school and I studied the subject all the way through to Year 12. I moved to Adelaide after high school to study Interior Architecture full time for 4 years at the University of South Australia. I suppose I was trying to find an arty job that paid, because I was made to believe that artists don’t make any money. When I finished studying, the world was in the midst of the global financial crisis and, as a result, there weren’t many jobs. I landed in the banking industry and have been there for about 12 years. I work for Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. It’s a great day job, with an amazing culture and lovely people. I am a mum of 2 little boys – Cooper (1 year old) and Cooper (3 years old), and 1 big boy – my husband (laughs).
Tema: Can you tell us a bit about what qualifies you as a botanical artist?
Tracey: There are no official qualifications as I am completely self-taught, just like a lot of other artists. This time last year, I was having a hard time being a mum of 2 and art was the distraction I needed to find myself. Cyanotype print-making was something I learnt in Year 12 Art at high school and the beautiful simplicity of the process has always stayed with me.
Tema: What made you decide to set up your own business and what has that journey been like, so far?
Tracey: My little business is only a year old and during this time, I have met some amazing people. I have received great feedback and I have loved showing my work at Gathered SA and Bowerbird. My cyanotypes are stocked at the lovely store Her Name Was Nola in Croydon and her customers have been snapping up my work. However, during the Coronavirus, she has had to close her doors and is open via appointment only. The journey so far has been wonderful and I look forward to seeing where my work takes me after we get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tema: Can you share with us some of the products and/or services that are offered via My Little Print Studio?
Tracey: I create original, unique, and one-of-a-kind cyanotype pieces in varying sizes. Customer orders are very welcome and I’d love to chat to anyone who may be interested in purchasing my artwork. I can print any certain flower or leaf in a specific size (A4 or A3). I have a range of original cyanotype cards, art cards, note books, and tote bags.
Tema: Going from your Instagram account, it seems like there is a predominant focus on blue tones – can you tell us a bit about that and why that might be the case?
Tracey: Cyanotype photography is a process dating back to the mid 1800’s. It was primarily used by engineers to make ‘blue prints’ or copies of architectural plans and drawings. They are made by coating paper in a dark room with a special sensitizing solution. These chemicals are what produce the cyan blue colour and the white is where the real flora or fauna is placed on top of the paper. With the idea of the color blue sparking a sense of calm and relaxation, it is my go-to choice to create my prints that aim to soothe you – it’s just like looking at the blue sky or the ocean!
Tema: How long (on average) does it take you to create your prints?
Tracey: This process is a labour of love. Each print has my attention for a few hours from start to finish. Firstly, I cut the paper to size and coat the paper in the sensitizing solution. The next day, I source the flora or fauna that I want to use. At home, I carefully arrange the flora and fauna on the paper and place it together in the sun. The time needed in the sun varies each day depending on the level of UV and the effect that you’re after. A print could be in the sun for five minutes or a couple of hours. The cyanotype is then rinsed in water and left to dry. I may then tone the cyanotype black. Finally, I trim the print for a second time and most likely, put it in a frame.
Tema: What would you like your customers to experience, when purchasing something from your business?
Tracey: I truly hope that each customer loves their original cyanotype. I put a lot of time, thought, and care into each one and only release my best work. I hope they admire the artwork and that it brings them peace and a sense of calm. I hope they smile when they receive a gift card and I hope they resonate and enjoy a touch of our natural world inside our modern homes.
Tema: How do you think your products can add value to their homes / lives?
Tracey: I have a few pieces on show in my house and I find them eye-catching and extremely memorizing. I love the details, the shadows, and the varying tones of blue. I love that nature has become a part of the home and the blue hues have the ability to calm the viewer. A black cyanotype is just as stunning – I am working on a few for the Gathered SA virtual market edition and they should be online during that weekend.
Tema: How do you come up with the designs that you offer via My Little Print Studio?
Tracey: Each cyanotype piece will vary depending on the position of the sun, the way the paper was painted, and the piece of flora and fauna I have chosen. The trick is to recognise how well that plant matter will transpose into a cyanotype.
Tema: Do you offer standard designs or are you open to doing custom works as well?
Tracey: Like any artist, I have my favourite subject matter, but I am always after a challenge and would be happy to discuss any custom works.
Tema: What do you think helps My Little Print Studio stand out from the rest that may be pursuing a similar business model?
Tracey: I think my strong point is the way cyanotypes are made. Each piece is an original, unique, and is locally handmade using real flora and fauna. I don’t think I have a great business model – I am just enjoying doing something for me and love that others also enjoy the results.
Tema: What do you think has been rewarding about being a small-scale business in Adelaide / SA?
Tracey: Networking and meeting other small business mums and boss babes. I follow a lot of locals on social media and I love seeing what other creatives are getting up to.
Tema: What do you think has been challenging about being a small-scale business in Adelaide / SA?
Tracey: Time management is a personal challenge – trying to squeeze in everything is hard.
Tema: Do you have a physical shop front or do you primarily operate online?
Tracey: I have an online website and I love to be present at markets to chat with customers and explain how Cyanotype printing works. Her Name Was Nola in Croydon is my first stockist and I love the amazing compliments her customers pass on.
Tema: What are you expecting from your participation in the upcoming Gathered SA virtual market?
Tracey: No expectations, as it’s such a hard time for everyone. I’d just love to get my name out there a little more and offer my customers with a piece that would help them relax and rejuvenate – especially during these uncertain times!
My Little Print Studio will be participating in the upcoming Gathered Design Market (Virtual Edition) during the weekend of April 18 – 19, 2020. Please head to her official website and support local by purchasing a print (or few) for yourself or a loved one who may need a state of tranquility and calm during these challenging times, in addition to helping in keeping the business afloat.