Being an Australian owned family business, we pride ourselves on supporting other local artists, designers and businesses alike. With Melbourne being our home and one of the most visited cities by tourists, we put a strong emphasis on having an amazing array of Australian designed and/or made products in each of our stores. This includes a beautiful collection by the wonderful artist and author Renée Treml. At our stores, we carry a range of her gorgeous children's books, as well as her collection of super cute Australian animal crockery, notepads, tea towels and more from Urban Products.
We caught up with Renée to find out a bit more about her design technique and what she loves most about Australia.
Hi Reneé, so what got you into art and illustrating?
I have always loved making art. As a child, I used to draw teeny tiny pictures on any piece of paper I could find. I studied science at university and it wasn't until a few years into a professional career that I realised art was my true passion. So, I quit my job and dedicated my time and energy to creating art and illustrations.
You refer to the technique as scratchboard. Can you tell us a bit about that and why you use that technique?
Traditional scratchboard (aka scraperboard or scratchpaper) is a wood or paper surface that has been coated with a thin layer of smooth white clay. I paint and draw layers of black ink on the surface and scratch into it with a craft knife to reveal the white underneath.
I love this technique because I can create fine, detailed linework - which is perfect for my favourite subjects which almost always have feathers and fur.
You have a few cute characters on the products from Urban Products can you tell us a little bit about each?
I've created several designs featuring native Australian animals and botanicals. I love making elegant illustrations that highlight our amazing wildlife. I've designed a koala, wombat, kangaroo and echidna, as well as some other cute creatures which will be released next season.
You’re not only an illustrator but also a writer. We have a couple of your children's books. What do you love about writing story books?
I wrote my first picture book because I felt like my illustrations were trying to tell a story. Writing is hard for me... it's like painting with words and it takes a lot of practice to get it right. I love to be challenged and I am continuing to learn with each re-write and revision.
What do you think makes Australian wildlife so interesting and special and why do you love to draw them?
I have been fascinated with Australian wildlife since my arrival here over ten years ago. I've always been extremely interested in birds and their ecology, but the marsupials have captured my heart. They are amazingly unique and diverse and I think the world should know about all of them -- the wombats and bilbies and quolls and antechinuses -- as well as the koalas and kangaroos.
How does it feel to know so many people have a piece of your art and stories with them at home and that visitors from overseas take them home to friends and family to give them a little bit of Australia?
It makes me so happy to share my love of Australian wildlife with locals and visitors. I hope it inspires them to learn more about the animals and this incredible country.
Find our range of products featuring Renée Treml's designs and books here.