Natalie Couto

Natalie Couto is an illustrator and surface pattern designer who moved to Malta from Toronto in 2015. She finds daily inspiration for her designs in the seaside, in nature and in the ancient architecture of the Maltese Islands.

You can meet Natalie at her pop-up open studio on The Trail at DePorres Hall in Sliema, where she will be busy creating new designs and chatting to visitors about the creative process behind her work. She will also be offering visitors the opportunity to recolour several of her digital designs, based on their own choice of colour palette.

As a young girl, Natalie would spend hours painting and drawing alongside her grandmother, Annaliese, who enjoyed painting portraits, flowers, animals and landscapes. Prior to moving to Malta,  however, Natalie worked in the hospitality sector, which allowed very little time for art. Natalie squeezed in just thirty minutes a day, during which time she drew tiles and patterns in 4’x 4 squares, a meditative as well as creative practice.

Moving across the world and living a different way of life gave Natalie the freedom to tap further into her creativity, and she soon knew that she was hooked on creating these kinds of designs. Now, having set up her own design studio Patterntalk, Natalie enjoys drawing and creating digital patterns for textiles and wallpapers. The style of her artwork varies from the delicate and intricate, to bold graphics with vibrant and often unusual colour combinations which serve as conversation pieces.

Natalie feels that pattern choices and the colour in which they’re chosen speak volumes about a about a person’s cultural influences and approach to life. Browsing Natalie’s patterns, I feel I have an insight into Natalie herself – there’s chic contemporary leopard skin where azure seas lap at a palette from which an ochre crosses into wild grasses that, for me, capture a Canadian prairie where husks rustle in rich dark blue night skies. And I see Malta in the simple repeating retro patterns, and I’d love to know whether these are in part influenced by the simplicity and primary colours of the traditional tiles underfoot her in the Middle Sea. But it is the tropical colours in many of her patterns that entrance me most of all – just looking I feel as if I am exploring an Amazonian rainforest, strong plants and magnificent blooms crisply designed for contemporary tastes and homes. There’s excitement, a rainbow of variety and a freedom of spirit corralled into crisp yet organic repeating patterns, inviting you to look again and explore further.” says art writer Esther Lafferty.