I love great design, especially surface design. I have an enduring curiosity and love for well executed colour and pattern. It's fabric is a muse for me or the creative "spark" in my sewing. The designers whose fabric you see at Fabric Spark are all super talented, inventive, and have the ability to get our imaginations firing because of their work.
Hello Designers! is a chance to get to know some of them a little better. I started by reaching out to one of my all time favourite fabric designers, Rashida Coleman-Hale. She very generously agreed to answer a few questions to give us a little more insight into how she works and who she is.
You can tell from her responses that she is charming, dedicated to her art, has a great sense of humour, and is generous (look how much time she spent on this!). Please read through to the end where I've posted some of my favourites of hers, and the reasons you will always find lots of her fabric at Fabric Spark.
My first creative job was my first gig as a freelance graphic designer. I worked for an Airbrush Tattoo company, called Airtoo (yes, for real) back in 2004. They needed someone to translate their designs to vector format and asked me if I knew Adobe Illustrator. (I didn't. Hahaha!) Of course I said yes, because I really wanted the job! They hired me on the spot and gave me a bunch of designs to work on and return them the next day. I stayed up all night searching the internet trying to figure out how to use this program and taught myself how to use it. I finished the work and they loved it! That's pretty much where my great love for Illustator began!
I started designing fabric back in 2010 after my first book 'I Love Patchwork' was published. I sent my designs to several companies and got a ton of no's. Being the persistent person that I am, I sent an email to Timeless Treasures and quickly got a response from their Art Director. She had JUST picked up my book the same week! How crazy is that? My first collection was called "I Heart..". It was actually a combination of two collections that I designed named CuteBots and FlowerShop. Looking back on that group, there are definitely some things I would do differently. I've learned so much about design over the years and I'm truly feeling more confident about my art.
I have to say that I don't think my greatest influence has been one person or thing. I love mid century design, Japanese art and design, vintage children's book illustrators. Some favorite vintage designers/artists are Sonia Delaunay, Celia Birtwell, Mary Blair. The list is SO long and vast! It's hard for me to pinpoint one person or thing. :)
I use a combination of both. Depending on my mood or the look I'm going for, I typically start out sketching on paper. I'll scan the art and then start working in Illustrator to create the final design. Sometimes I just jump right in and go straight to screen. It really just depends.
I'm usually drawn to fushias, aquas, and warm yellows. I try my best to step outside of my comfort zone, but I always seem to come full circle and use some shade of those colors. Not a fan of burgundy, forest green, and mauve. I'm sure they have their usefulness, though.
One of my favorite designers is Anyan. (http://www.anyan-sha.com/pattern.html) His work is just so cute and whimsical! He's based in Japan, so we don't see a lot of his designs on this side of the pond. I'd love to see his work popping up more State side.
I started sewing garments when I was 12. One Summer my mother (and Grandfather, who was a tailor) decided that I needed to learn a new skill and sewing was it. I reluctantly spent my Summer learning to sew pants and a vest and the fabric was hideous. It pretty much looked like a clown suit, but I was oh so proud of that clown suit. I knew then that I wanted to make clothes for the rest of my life. Fast forward to high school graduation and I was on the plane the NEXT DAY to New York. I studied Fashion Design at FIT. Turns out, I actually don't enjoy sewing clothes all that much. Hahahahaha! All that to say I really and truly love a good quilt. Hee.
Believe it or not, I really, reeeeeaally wanted to join the Air Force when I was a in high school. I wanted to fly so badly! My folks said no way. FINE! I'll be a Fashion Designer. Geez! *rolls eyes*
The Accidental Creative - How To Be Brilliant At A Moment's Notice by Todd Henry
A great book about creative productivity. I highly recommend it!
Well, I'm off to San Diego to hangout with my folks at the beach this weekend. Right after that, next week I'm off to Atlanta to work with the Cotton + Steel family on new art for 2018. Then I'll be heading to St. Louis for Quilt Market in May. I hope to make it somewhere overseas before the year is over. Fingers and toes crossed. I'll keep you posted! ^_~
And this is why I asked Rashida to be my first Guinea Pig for "Hello Designers". These are a small sample of my favourite Rashida fabrics in recent history...
Current collection - Kujira and Star (loved them all but these four were real standouts for me).
From SS Bluebird - It was dreamy in Black (Black and White) but it's crazy good in red.
Past All Stars (not in any order, all favourites of mine)
I've sewn with most of the above, but I made this one into a favourite Merchant and Mills Top 64
My sister turned this one into a One Hundred Acts of Sewing Dress with the border and selvedge for the hem ( or lack of hem) - perfection.
Looking at these few examples above, you can probably see right away what I love about her fabric designs. Rashida always does just enough - never too much. There is always the right amount of negative space for the design to breath and to make sure you see what's important. Her designs sometimes yield a little reward or surprise for those who look closely (some teeth are happy, some are sad). She often uses elements from the natural world, but they are also graphic and modern. And, her sense of colour is both broad and original.
It's been a real treat for me to say Hello to Rashida. I hope it was for you too!!