This design challenge theme was the cause of a big discussion among my family about what “rockabilly” really was and how you could represent it. Spoonflower’s design spec said “Originally from the 1950s, the iconic genre has a strong following that has withstood the test of time. As you create your entry this week, channel the rockabilly style with themes centered around vintage tattoos, pin-up girls, polka dots and even skulls.” My parents (who remember the original rockabilly trend) said they thought of it more as Elvis and ice cream sodas. We had a good time going through the contest entries and seeing how everyone interpreted the design. (Lots of cherries. Lots of skulls.)
My dad is a collector of vintage guitars, so I decided that rockabilly era guitars were my inspiration. I modeled mine after a Gretsch guitar from the 50s. I started drawing them in shades of grey just to work out the design and get the repeat set, intended to add some color. But the more I looked at the shades of grey, the more I liked it. One of the motifs that popped up when I googled “rockabilly style” was dice, which I didn’t really love, so went with card suits, which I felt like had the same vibe and I loved the tiny pops of red that it added to the design. This was all vector Illustrations in Adobe Illustrator.
The 33 you see on the swatch of the design above is the place I finished in the design contest. 33 of 325, which is my third highest finish ever in a contest (I have ranked #11 and #22.) THANK YOU if you voted for my design. You can find it here on Spoonflower.
The design challenge theme this week was “Moon Landing”, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon. It was a partnership with Princess Awesome, a company that designs science and technology themed clothes for girls. Many designers went with “girls in space” interpretations of the theme, but I wanted to celebrate the event itself.
I did some photo gathering online and looked at the way I would have experienced the moon landing: watching it on TV. I found lots of pictures of people gathered around television sets. I drew a collection of slightly wonky retro televisions from elements I saw in the photos and made illustrations of some of the iconic images from the broadcast with astronauts on the bright surface and deep shadows. On a few tv screens I put the captions that were on the broadcast. (This photo is from a friend of my mom’s who took a photo of his tv screen while he was watching.)
I wanted my televisions to be black-and-white, so I added a vibrant blue background to the design and then some transparent pops of color on top.
It was fun to work on and especially fun to do the photo research. You can see more moon landing designs at the contest page.
Welcome to my first Office Hours video. I am starting a series of quick video lessons about fun things you can try while designing fabrics. Many of the topics are going to based on questions that I have gotten from students, friends and fans. So if you have something you’d love to know – just ask!
This first video isn’t quite perfect, as is always the case with technology, right?! FB dropped the video after a couple of minutes, so I started up again and have stitched those two videos together. Even though it didn’t show it to me on the screens I was watching, it also squished the ipad screen a couple of times. I decided that it wasn’t ideal, but you could still definitely follow what was happening. Hoping to fix that for the next time.
Animal prints are not my cup of tea, but I get why they are appealing; I do love bold graphic patterns. Instead of going with a leopard or zebra print for my design challenge entry, I wanted to pick something that was a little less obvious. So I decided to go with ducks. Female mallards are pretty well camouflaged with their brown feathers, except for the bright blue, black and white bars on their wings. You almost don’t see them at all when they are sitting quietly, but as soon as they take off there is a flash of that blue. (Thanks to my mom for the mallard photo above.)
I drew a vector illustration for this design, layering the feathers so I could make a repeating pattern. I felt like the design was a little flat. I often feel this way about vector designs, I often feel like they need a little more texture. So I layered it first with a watercolor pattern to give it some light/dark/grunge. Then I added a chevron stripe to mimic the “grain” of feathers.
The overall pattern makes a stripe which I think would be fun for couch pillows or tote bags.
You can check out more animal prints at the design challenge page.
In 2018, I participated in every one of the Spoonflower Weekly Design Challenges. Every week there is a topic posted and artists are challenged to design something to match the theme. Themes range from art elements (large scale black and white) to color limits (navy, orchid, maroon, white) to topics you can interpret anyway you like (sloths, four wheels, astrology). I wrote about how 2018 was for me and what I learned in a previous post and I realized that although I had shared all of those designs on all of my other social media channels, I talked about very few of them here. So for 2019, I am going to remedy that.
The theme for the first week of January was “Be My Valentine”. One of my strategies for coming up with a challenge design is to challenge myself. I first think about the immediate image that comes to mind when I look at the theme (red hearts, arrows, roses) and I throw that out. I try to never design the first thing I think of because often that’s the cliché. And for me, I like to think about what I want a design to be and what I want it not to be. When I was thinking about my Astrology theme design, I knew I wanted it to be fish (for Pisces), but not starry sky.
There is a legend in my family of the Valentine card that my dad made for my mom way back when they were 20somethings. My dad wrote her an irreverent poem and drew her a picture of a heart. A “real” anatomical heart. It wasn’t exactly what she was expecting at the time but it is one of my favorite stories of the two of them.
At first glance, you might think that the photo at the top of this post represents the metaphorical dumpster-fire that was 2018, but it actually might be one of my favorite things about the year.
As we were heading in to the end of 2018 and holiday season, we realized we didn’t have any plans. I don’t mean “no plans” as in “we only have a few family things and we might have a day to lounge around in our pajamas”; I mean nothing. We had scheduled alternate dates to celebrate Christmas with family, no one was visiting, and we were so busy with wrapping up year end at our various jobs that it didn’t occur to us to even make plans with friends. Two weeks with nowhere we had to be and nothing we had to do. No one to entertain, clean the house for, or cook for except ourselves.
It was glorious.
So we rented some dumpsters.
I know that might not sound like everyone’s ideal way to spend the holidays, but it was amazing. We moved in to our house almost 20 years ago. (I have no idea how that much time has gone by.) We came from a different state and a tiny condo so we had nothing when we got here and we just moved with everything we had. Turns out that the nothing multiplied into a LOT of junk. Things from college days. Hand-me-down furniture that people gave us because we had empty rooms in our house and no chairs. Things that we might get to “someday”, like a weaving loom I never use. More chairs. Old carpet left by the previous owners. And we put it in places and on shelves and in boxes and kind of forgot it was there. A sea of clutter.