I met Lillian Farag on a camping trip in the mid 2000’s on Chincoteague Island—a beach on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that is known for its majestic wild ponies. Caught in a violent thunderstorm and ravaged by mosquitoes, we never had the chance to ask one another about our jobs.
I only learned about her work many years later when Michael, Mohinders' founder, was showing off his new purchase from West Coast Craft—a beautiful veg-tan leather wallet adorned with hand-painted squiggly green snakes. I couldn't believe it when I saw the signature on the wallet "L. Farag!" And so began this serendipitous and years-long collaboration in the making.
Tell us about your background — where you grew up and the role art played in your home life.
Hi! I’m Lillian. I’m an artist and textile designer currently living in Los Angeles, CA. I attended The Savannah College of Art and Design where I obtained my BFA in Fiber Arts and Textile Design. Soon after I graduated I moved to New York City where I spent the next 16 years living and working, focusing on my craft and starting a business. Art has always played a role in my life, I remember experimenting with materials from a young age and always had artistic hobbies to use up any of my free time. I attended Dreyfoos School of the Arts in Highschool, in which I discovered my love for screen printing and working with fabric design. This is when I would say my love for design and fashion really flourished.
Has your art changed at all since becoming a mother?
The thing that has changed the most about my work is my scale and process. I’ve dialed my workload back quite a bit and I’ve scaled back on collaborations. I try to only take on projects that make the most sense for my growing business and that bring newness and excitement.
Do you have a favorite / most memorable design – either visually or symbolically?
I really enjoy creating my Marble Leather Collections. The process is grueling, since it involves so many steps and there is always trial and error. But! You never know what designs you’re going to get and that is the most exciting part.
You have one chance to get a good pull, so the stakes are high. The colors are so vibrant and the designs come out so organic and fluid that once you get into the groove and get the perfect pull it's like unpacking a new gift. It's a really different process than my other collections and that's probably why I find it to be the most gratifying.
Do you ever experiment with different mediums? Textiles, clay, etc.
Yes! Experimenting is a huge part of my work. It's part of the reason I’ve stumbled upon so many different projects and collaborations. My background is in textile design so I do a lot of work in that field. I’ve recently discovered a love for ceramics and while I’m focusing on it as just a hobby for now, I’m having a lot of fun working with my hands and creating small scale sculptural lamps that I think may have potential for future project releases.
Has your artistic process evolved at all over the course of the pandemic?
Yes definitely, I’m taking on less projects and trying to experiment with new materials more often. I’ve taken on a few new hobbies and I’m definitely traveling a lot less. I’ve allowed myself to focus more on things that are benefiting my process and artistic growth and letting go of practices or goals that no longer suit me.
If you could see one of your leather pieces in ANYONE’S wardrobe, who would that be?
Hmm the Bucket Bag in Jennifer Lawrence’s hands would be pretty neat.
Do you have any self care rituals that have become part of your artistic and/or personal practice?
I used to go a lot harder taking on more than I could chew often at times working late hours as well as weekends. I’ve slowed it down a lot over the last two years taking more time to be present and enjoy life. I have a two year old now and that is very demanding of my time. I find myself finding joy in watching her discover new ways of being creative without thinking too much about what she's doing. It taught me to slow down and be in the moment more often. I also try to incorporate more water in my life. Baths, Beach etc... Grounding is really important for me at this stage of my life.
What did the beginning of Lillian Farag look like? How has your style evolved over the years?
I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable in my own skin. Taking bigger risks in my design choices and collections not to mention acknowledging when I need to slow down or knowing its okay to just creative without having it be a part of my business but more for myself and personal growth.
How would you describe your personal style? Is it as expressive and whimsical as playful and colorful designs?
I try to keep it as playful as possible. I love anything bold and eye-catching and I've never understood why more children brands don't offer more adult options when it comes to rompers, hats and shoes. I love to mix and match solids and find unique pieces that bring me joy to wear.
Biggest source of inspiration for your designs?
Color, shapes textures and the idea that you can change the way you feel by just expressing yourself through fashion and wearable art.
What is the most important thing you have learned about representing yourself as an independent artist?
Go with your gut. No sense in waiting for the perfect time. Remember that it's ok to just be a working artist and not always come off like a bigger business to keep up with the demand. People enjoy it all more when they can relate.
Favorite day-trip from LA?!
If you could have one person's work hanging on your wall, who would that be?
I love kinetic sculpture, so I would say Alexander Calder
Tricky question....East coast or west coast?!
They are both so different and honestly have fed my soul in different phases of my life. I would say East Coast when you are young and free with energy to spare. West Coast for when you want a different pace and more SPACE :)