What started as a fun way for local artist Shandra Smith to handle her chronic pain, is taking a big leap into the fashion world.
For the first time, her colourful, bold patterns will be shown at a fashion show in Paris, called Premiere Vision, Sept. 19 to 21.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” said the West Kelowna resident.
As part of a fashion collective, her designs will be sold at a show booth. Her dream, she said, will be to walk into a store one day and see her patterns as part of an article of clothing.
Smith started with surface designs, like with cell phone cases and wall art in Hotel Zed, before moving into fashion with Bucketfeet shoes.
“To me, (Paris) is the big leagues,” said Smith. “It feels good because you work hard as an artist and a designer… so getting the pay-back in the end is what you want. It feels like things are coming together.”
Smith is also stepping into the book world with her patterns.
Her first stencil books, called Scratch & Create, features 32 of her patterns underneath a scratchable surface. The books will be available through Amazon, Chapters and Mosaic Books Sept. 26.
Smith will be doing a meet-and-greet at Mosaic Books, Sept. 30 from 1 to 3 p.m.
A stay-at-home mom, she dabbled with design in high school and worked at the Kelowna Art Gallery when she was pregnant. But as an artist, she is self-taught.
At the gallery, she saw that art was accessible to everyone, and doesn’t require a degree.
“I basically have this notion of fooling around,” she said, which allowed her bright, vibrant designs to flourish when she started creating them around 10 years ago.
But it’s not easy as she has to deal with health issues. Diagnosed with fibromyalgia, she said it has inspired her striking colours and unique patterns.
“Sometimes I’m physically in a lot of pain and I can only work for 30, 40 minutes because my arms and shoulders are hurting, but this colour comes out of me and you forget about the pain for a while,” she said.
However, there’s a silver lining.
“If I didn’t have this pain, I would’ve gone out to a regular job,” she said. “It sometimes makes you quite down… I find that colour kind of lifts me up.”
She loves magenta, coming back to the colour in her work. Her process usually starts with playing with coloured paper from a dollar store, and inks.
After taking a photo of the pattern she created by hand, she mixes the design through Photoshop.
She uses YouTube to teach herself through trial and error.
Smith finds support from her daughter Zarya, 12, son Waylon, nine and husband Fergus Smith.