Flori Pate: An Artist with Flair

I love the style of artist Flori Pate. Back when she was my neighbor in Greenville SC, I loved the artistic flair she used to decorate her house. Her clothes, shoes and jewelry also showed style, and the artwork she created for her graphic design business always amazed me. Flori’s bold designs have a happy flair. The images she creates make you want to smile. This is true of Flori herself too. Being around her makes you want to smile, so living next door to her was awesome! I’m not exaggerating when I say that one of the saddest days of my life was the day I watched Flori, her husband, baby, and two big dogs drive away when they relocated to Oregon. If I had known at the time that a year later I’d be relocating too, maybe it wouldn’t have been so hard! Flori and her family now live in Asheville, NC where she runs her graphic design business. I am really excited that she agreed to shower some of her artistic flair on Nerdy Chick’s Rule. (Flori nerdified her portrait just for us!)

Thanks for joining us Flori! I ask everyone this: If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?   I would say “follow your dreams.”  In the 80s, so much of our culture placed huge emphasis on money. Therefore, I had several adults tell me that you can’t make a career in art and pointed me in different directions. But art WAS my dream! It took me a while to realize those adults were not necessarily correct. I would have been miserable doing anything else.

I had people tell me not to write, too, Flori, so I think that’s great advice. What is your favorite way to flaunt your brain power?  I flaunt my brain power on paper. And usually with lots of color!  As a kid I was always in charge of “signage” for our summer lemonade stands, a job which I took very seriously. Marketing is everything, you know. As an adult I have the ability to bring a business or product to life by creating a brand using elements of design, illustration, and type. I love meeting with new clients who have worked so hard to start or sustain a business but have not been able to establish the look, feel or voice they desire. I listen and ask lots of questions. Then my brain starts imagining all the wonderful ways to create a brand that breaks through the clutter and avoids the sea of sameness all around us.  My biggest reward is when my clients say “I love it! You nailed it! I never would have thought of that!” That’s how I strut my brain power.

Tell us more about what you do. What skills are needed to pursue a career in graphic design?  To survive in this career, you must entertain everyone’s opinions, always accept change and possess endless curiosity. The ability to come up with many creative solutions to a singular challenge is a must. It’s always important to be able  to work within tight budget constraints and not let that stifle your creativity. You must have thick skin. This career is so subjective. I once worked on a project for Sonoma County Bagels and showed the fruit of my labor and all the client could say was, “I hate purple.” You’ve got to be able to bite your tongue and roll with the punches. My Creative Circus teacher once said, “Opinions are like belly buttons, everyone’s got one.”

Your work has a definite style and flair! I love it! Is there something that inspired you to create that look?  When I was in first grade I won the book fair poster contest. I drew Snoopy on his red dog house reading a book and wrote, “SNOOP ON OVER TO THE WEST SIDE BOOK FAIR.” I loved watching all of the Peanut’s TV specials and reading Charles Schultz’s Sunday comics. Looking at my work now, there’s no doubt that Charles Schultz’s body of work was an influence.

I never thought of that, but your work, like Schultz’s, is full of joy! Do you have a favorite project you have worked on so far? If so, what’s the story?  “Favorite” is hard for me to say! -maybe we should say “MOST RECENT.”

Good point! Tell us about your most recent project.  I was approached by a start-up local business to be the first featured artist to show in their gallery. The assignment was to create “candy” inspired art. I had hardly gotten out of our initial meeting and into my car when I grabbed scrap paper and pen and began drawing. I then stayed up drawing and playing with different concepts until the wee hours of the evening several nights in a row and I couldn’t stop. My very late night ideas ended up being my favorite.

Love those! Especially the jelly beans one! Tell us about a well-known artsy chick you admire and why you admire her.  I LOVE the English illustrator Lauren Child. She has brilliant simple lines to her work that convey imagery of exaggerated emotion and humor. She also incorporates great patterns, textures and color palates. Her style is fresh and fun. Here’s the kicker- she’s also WRITES her books. The quintessential Nerdy Chick!

I like Child’s work too. What’s something you like to do that might be considered a tiny bit nerdy, but is actually really fun? Label lingering. (I just coined that term which, is also very Nerdy!) I appreciate well designed packaging and find great pleasure in reading food labels. Having time to meander at the grocery store, perusing the aisles and reading the small print of ingredients is a favorite past time of mine.  I have a passion for whole food, and cooking. Label lingering kind of goes hand and hand with that.

Because of this interest, I really enjoyed creating a logo for our community garden and also a series of veggie inspired note cards with recipes on the backs.

I’m thinking I’m not a label lingerer, but it’s true that labels have more oomph than they used to.  

You can see the radishes Flori mentions in this sample of her work. To see more of her designs, visit her website http://www.floripatedesigns.com


Thanks for answering these questions, Flori!  I look forward to seeing what you’ll create next!

To learn more about Flori, and to see the kind of projects she takes on (everything from personalized invitations and cards to billboards) visit www.floripatedesigns.com.