In a July 2012 blog post Kiera brought our attention to Vera Neumann and her seemingly unstoppable design brand. Since then I have wanted to read the book Vera: The Art and Life of an Icon, and I am so glad I did. This book is a feast for the eyes and a true inspiration for all designers.
Vera Neumann is now an icon and household name, but what you may not know is that she was a true revolutionary in the field of textile design. She is perhaps the first designer to brand her textiles and herself. When someone purchased one of her scarves or tablecloths they were also buying a life style.
Vera hand painted all of her work, covering the gamut in motifs; from loose floral to geometric to conversational. As a child she found her inspiration in nature, a theme she returned to throughout her career. As an adult Vera loved to travel, and folk art was a never ending source of inspiration. Never afraid to buck the system she chose bold colors for her modern patterns, at a time when the market was glutted with dusty florals. She did what she liked when she liked it, and customers loved her for it.
I really loved this book from cover to cover. Susan Seid and Jen Renzi really delve into the life and work of Vera and I think you should too.
Part design math, part creative alchemy, this blog post from Pattern Pulp is the inspiration for our May Design Challenge. Only this time the formula is two very different images, mixing and mingling in the artist's eye to become an original design. Looking at the inspiration we can see color commonalities, and forms that seem to dissolve, and re-emerge as something entirely the designer's own. She writes about it beautifully, and I particularly love this excerpt:
...the flow [...] is often a combination of experience, serendipity, inspiration and style. We can’t control the visuals we
consume or the color combinations we absorb, but the resulting products usually reflect aspects of these processes.
Again quoting Pattern Pulp “While the imagery as a whole seems a bit disjointed, there’s overlap between two of the three [images] at all times.”
This challenge is about the journey, but I can’t wait to see what destinations we all arrive at!
Surface Pattern Designers, have you checked out Pictaculous? The site is a wonderful engine for pulling palettes from photos. Just upload a photo onto the site and they make a palette directly from that photo. I took this recent shot with my camera while on a hike, and voila! Instant color palette. After uploading the first one, I found I just couldn't stop. Give it a try yourself, and if you have an iPhone you can upload the app.
I've only recently begun to peruse the Uppercase blog on a daily basis, so I missed the submissions call for their surface pattern design guide. That doesn't mean we have to miss their Surface Pattern Design special though! One hundred artists will be featured, including Jessica Nielsen, Nadia Hassan and Elizabeth Olwen. No. 21 is due to arrive on shelves and in mailboxes in April. If you made a submission, we'd love to hear about it. Meanwhile, to make up for my oversight, please enjoy this awesomeness!
Textiles: The Art of Mankind, Mary Shoeser
1,058 color illustrations
Thames & Hudson Publishers 2012
Author Mary Schoeser is a world-renowned textile expert and author of several books. Her scholarly experience and love for textiles shine as she takes the reader on a journey that explores human invention and ingenuity, from the earliest fiber arts to printed fabrics, from handmade to machine-made. The book is like a tapestry itself, in terms of its presentation, elegance, and richness of story and color.
Contemporary and historic data correspond cleverly to the way the book has been arranged in six chapters: “Impact”, “Ingredients”, “Structure”, “Surface”, “Added Dimensions”, and “Imagery”, each chapter accompanied by a wealth of gorgeous color plates. It is important to note that the book is not presented in a chronological manner. Contemporary textiles and historic textiles appear together to highlight similar skills and themes, whether made by hand or by machine. This is a wonderful approach that brings a whole world view of textile arts that illustrates the complete human experience, and shows how different cultures and needs have influenced each other. The approach makes surface pattern designers like us appreciate our roots in the spectrum of textile arts.
The section called “Painting and Printing”(found in the chapter called “Surface”) addresses the evolution of surface design. Schoeser discusses the earliest known uses of dyes and inks and their development over time, as well as the beginning uses of marking with pigment—with a finger, brush, stamp, or stick. Innovations in printing technologies throughout history are discussed, including how freelance printed-textile designers were being used by the 1930’s. Examples of surface pattern design appear throughout the book.
Overall, “Textiles: The Art of Mankind” is an informational and visual treat, a must have for anyone interested in the development of textile arts throughout human history. This book is a joyful, inspiring read and candy for the eyes.
-Jennifer Holbrook and Ben Corrales