Since moving to Asheville, NC a few years ago, I have become increasingly interested in the art of woven and hand-dyed textiles. Fiber artists are able to turn such simple materials into stunningly complex pieces of artwork and I am in awe of their ability to make their vision come to life in this way.
Today’s featured designer does this masterfully. Kathleen Fitzpatrick specializes in traditional techniques, doing all of her own hand weaving and hand dyeing. From these pieces she experiments with and creates digital images for print that are inspired by “the southwestern United States as well as the remains of a once industrial city found in my own backyard.”
Kathleen Fitzpatrick graduated from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania in 2014 with a Bachelors degree in Traditional Textiles and Art History. It was here where her interest in the arts quickly evolved into a passion for design. After earning her Bachelor’s Degree in 2015 she began to work at a local digital printing company. “In this role I guide textile designers, artists, and interior focused firms through the process of building custom fabric collections for print. This includes offering assistance with fabric selections, designing repeats, and color management.
“In 2016 I combined my workplace knowledge and enthusiasm for design and founded Tie-Up Textiles, a boutique business dedicated to both preserving and challenging traditional textile techniques. Tie-Up Textiles is an eclectic brand with a style not easily defined. My eye for texture and abstract motifs is inspired by the remains of a once booming industrial town here in my own backyard. However, my preference for natural, earthy color palettes and simple geometrics takes on a style all its own.
“My hand woven and hand dyed fabrics reflect the traditional side of my work, while the modern side incorporates those finished fabrics for use in continuous repeats and custom design. Moreover, digital printing allows me the ability to manipulate my weavings and dyed fabrics to substitute color, pattern, and texture for a vast array of new collections. The finished pieces – using either traditional or modern methods – are used in-house to create throw pillows, table linens, and one-off upholstery statement pieces for the home.
“There is a sort of discipline and patience required by the art of weaving and hand dyeing that I’m attracted to. Both require process and structure in order to achieve the final product; there are no short cuts. And, these techniques cannot easily be mass produced, which is often a perk for my clients. They love that their piece has been thoughtfully and personally created, and that it is truly one-of-a-kind.
“On the contrary, my digital work is often a less labor and time intensive process. But together they balance each other. When I feel creatively stalled with one, I simply jump to the other. I believe it is this balancing act that continually inspires my experimentation in merging traditional and modern processes.”
Each month Textile Design Lab members have the opportunity to take part in our “Chelsea’s Challenge” design challenges. This month, the challenge is based around the theme of light, and includes sub-themes on prisms, iridescence, and more. Over the course of four weeks, TDL members will work on building a cohesive collection of 3-5 patterns based on this theme. We provide mood boards and downloadable Pantone colors as a jumping off point, but love watching our members’ ideas blossom and transform from the provided inspiration!
The first step is putting together a “backbeat” for their collection, which includes ideas on a target customer or market, any trends they wish to incorporate, and how their own personal style and favorite artistic techniques can be utilized in developing this collection. Along the way the Textile Design Lab team and fellow members from the community provide feedback on our private forum. It’s a blast to see collections develop this way from beginning sketches to a polished pattern collection. You can check out some of the work our students have created in the past on our dedicated Chelsea’s Challenge Pinterest board!
If you’d like to get involved in the challenge and become part of our supportive e-learning community, we invite you to join us in the Textile Design Lab. The deadline to complete the Light challenge is Monday, September 4th, so there’s plenty of time to dive in…we hope to see you there!
These luscious patterns are a part of Return to Nature, a new womenswear fashion collection created by printed textile designer Abigail Pymer. I was immediately struck by the youthful, vibrational energy of Abigail’s work, as well as excited to learn more about her background and process.
Abigail shared: “Return to Nature informs the importance of the natural environment and responds to seasonal Spring/Summer 18 trends in colour and theme. It is a celebration of botanical gardens, an exploration of the plants which inhabit the glass houses, including the interior structure surrounding them.”
For Abigail, she was “inspired by sensory experiences, vibrant natural palettes, and architecture. The designs will exist within a commercial high street market, combining geometrics and florals through digital drawing. Including a capsule collection with a bespoke edge, combining hand screen printed process and embellishment.”
Abigail Pymer is a recent graduate from Leeds College of Art in West Yorkshire, England. Abigail plans on living in West Yorkshire for one more year before achieving her dream of living and working abroad as a fulltime or freelance designer.
Abigail was kind enough to answer a few questions about her time at school and her design process:
I would love to hear more about your time at Leeds College of Art. Was there one course or professor who was highly influential?
Throughout my three years at LCA, I have grown and learnt so much as a practitioner/designer. With only 2,500 students stretched out over Further and Higher Education it is a small University, which is what I love most about it. Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design is a brilliant course, and LCA has provided me with the chance to get involved with competitions and live briefs for industry professionals such as ASDA and Hallmark. In my second year I had the chance to enter my designs into the Bradford Textile Society Prize and won 2nd for a printed fashion textile design. My practice involves a majority of screen printing, therefore I spent a lot of my time in the print room at university and I can’t praise the technicians enough. They work so hard and are willing to help anyone/everyone if and when they can. Laura Slater was very inspirational as one of my main tutors in third year. She would give me another perspective on my work. This can be exactly what is needed when there has been a lot of time spent on one design.
Can you tell us a little bit about your design process? How do you get started? Do you start your process on or off the computer?
My process begins with research, into trends for colour, themes, and style. I often find inspiration on WGSN, PatternBank – where I have been featured – and also on their blog and Pinterest. I also think Instagram is an amazing source of inspiration. From there, I then begin by drawing in black, using fine liners and ink. These begin to inform colour studies, in which I mainly use acrylic, goache, inks, and pro-markers. I prefer to draw from life but can also draw from photographs, in which I have gathered some primary research. (In this case Botanical Gardens for my degree show work.) I scan in my imagery and begin working on it in Photoshop. I tend to work from drawings, but have completely designed patterns using my Wacom tablet on the computer. A sample of that design is attached below. When designing for screen print, I use two methods; I prepare the screen separations on the computer and I also create screen positives from directly drawing onto the Kodatrace. I enjoy working this way, as there is much more freedom for expression and I cannot plan what the outcome will be—which is exciting to me.
What lessons did you learn while creating Return to Nature?
Whilst creating Return to Nature, I learned how much I enjoy screen printing. It is a process I would like to continue to develop and refine now that I have graduated. I gained so much more confidence in my work throughout this project, which is so crucial. Exhibiting my work at New Designers in London gave me another amazing confidence boost and I have some exciting things lined up for this summer.
We’re preparing for an exciting week at Pattern Observer. We’re going to be taking a trip to Portland, Oregon. During this time we’ll be meeting with clients who we’ve worked with in the past and also potential clients who we are really excited about having the opportunity to work with. We’ll be showing them our spring and fall pattern collections.
To do all of this, it takes some prep work for the presentations, and this is what I’d like to share with you. I hope that it’s helpful as you begin to prepare for your own pattern presentations.
What’s Your Story?
The first thing I do when I begin preparing for a presentation is to think about how I would talk through my patterns. From doing this I realized something important; that I like to think about the customer’s journey and the type of patterns that they may want to wear throughout the season. To demonstrate this, I divided our portfolio of over 300 patterns into 5 stories. You can see this here in Adobe Bridge.
After that, I scroll through our Dropbox of patterns. This is where I will click and drag each pattern into its appropriate story. This is part of what’s so wonderful about Bridge, as the location of the files in the Dropbox doesn’t change when you do this. It simply created the collections within Adobe Bridge.
But how about creating a new collection? This is simple! You will:
Click on the “new collection” button in the bottom right hand corner of your collection window.
Name the collection whatever you like.
Click the back button to return to your original screen.
After this, you will begin clicking and dragging patterns into your new collection story folder. Make sure you choose the patterns that best fit the story that you’d like to tell. For me, I will choose to tell my story through seasons and through the customer journey. This may work for you, or you may prefer to use more traditional pattern collections or trends to divide your overall portfolio.
Organize your Adobe Bridge collection
Once your collections are done click on a collection to open it. This is where you’ll review your collection as a whole. Ask yourself these questions:
What colors stand out?
Do I need a larger variety of patterns?
Based on your thoughts about your answers you can then adjust the order of the patterns to best fit the color palettes that you’re using or the story that you’re telling.
In this example I may want to consider: 1) using these brightly colored patterns at the end of my story; and 2) beginning to tell the story of starting the collection with these icy winter blues and slowly warming up into spring, oranges and yellows, and then ending with the bright reds of summer.
As you look at your patterns, click through each one and imagine the story that you might tell. Think about what you might tell your clients about the pattern or the collection as a whole. This is how you can effectively arrange your printouts and fabrics in the same order. You’ll feel more confident during your client presentation from these efforts.
This has been my method for preparing for our upcoming sales trip. How about you? Do you have any presentation techniques or tips that work great for you? The entire community – and me too – would love to read them in the comments below.
Chelsea’s Challenge is a monthly post series in the Textile Design Lab, in which we share trends and inspiration to help our students build pattern collections for their portfolios. During the month of June our Chelsea’s Challenge focused on the “Bloom” trend that takes its cues from the amazing floral patterns we are seeing coming up in the Spring ’19 season. Lab members spent four weeks working through the pattern development process, which resulted in some truly stunning floral collections. Today we are sharing a small sampling of these collections that were created around the Bloom trend. Enjoy!
“This is my BLOOM collection. This topic was very inspirational for me because it represents a huge trend in home decor and I want to develop BOLD BLOOM collections for my portfolio.
I have tried to make a joyful and colorful pattern collection. I have used my own color range because I believe in great coloration for AW18. I have used my iPad Pro for the bloom and watercolor stains and I have used some Photoshop effects also.
The big leaves and the digital flowers were created on Illustrator.
I love the mix of styles. I think it is trendy and it can be very useful for the home decor buyer. Today, the customers want to develop a product range with very different coordinates and this collection’s success is due to the link between the topic and the color harmony.”
“The Bloom collection is for SS19 fashion market and is targeting a confident woman. It is loosely inspired by etched glass, lace appliqués, and experiments with bold outlines, negative shapes, and the recent color clashing trend. The designs were created using hand drawn ink and pencil elements that were digitally manipulated, colored, layered, and sometimes drawn over a second time.”
“The target market for this collection was high-end activewear customers such as Lululemon, Seafolly, or the Upside. My inspiration was water plants such as lotuses, and water ripples. I combined a range of techniques to create a free-flowing collection. These techniques included hand drawn linework, and digital manipulation of photos of lotuses and other flowers. I included a deep blue feel to the main print to achieve a watery aquatic feel.
Marielle is currently in the process of starting her website – ‘Patternluxe’, to showcase and sell her textile designs. In the meantime you can view her graphic design portfolio here.
“My collection is called “Infinite Digital Bloom”.
My Inspiration and concept idea – I walk around NY a lot and love going upstate also. So I take a lot of pictures of flowers since this is the perfect season. I never get tired of photographing flowers and then start thinking about how to incorporate them into new patterns. In this case I used photographs and played with many blending modes and juxtapositions. I also researched how to create nebula and cosmos effects in Photoshop and incorporated these effects into the patterns. I am targeting young trendy women and would see these patterns work very well in fashion, for high end beachwear and activewear but also expandable to many other fashion items.”