If surface pattern designers come in all stripes, Miriam Dym may just be this stripiest of us all. Miriam comes from the fine art world, but says that her current project is moving "out of art, and in[to] interior decoration." One of the interviewers in the video muses that Miriam may be a "business woman with bad art habits." In response Miriam quips "or radically out there as a conceptual artist, and deep deep undercover." Watch the video for more on Miriam's ideas about commercialism, and art making. Or simply click on the image below to be linked to the video.
The video was produced by Gorky's Grandaughter, a documentary art project, the brainchild of Zachary Keeting and Christopher Joy. They visit artists in their studios, and interview them.
Guild member Sarah York was featured on tractorgirl.au this week.
Julie Gibbons is the girl behind tractorgirl.au, a website that focuses on the visual side of your creative business. She offers insight on branding tips, small biz how-to, and design and making how-tos. This is a blog well worth checking out.
See more about Sarah, and her beautiful work at her website sarahyorkdesigns.com.
And then there's us, the Guild!
We can't believe we didn't notice this sooner. Back in September Swiss surface pattern designer Simona Cellar called us out as one of her Top 10 blogs about surface pattern design! The Surface Pattern Design Guild is right there in the mix with Pattern Observer, Uppercase Magazine, Make It In Design, and more! Wow! A big thank you to Simona!
Imagine that you have developed a fabric pattern and want to offer your design on aprons. A practical production run might require $30,000. With Kickstarter you can tell the story of your aprons and what makes them special and set a funding target of $50,000. If your sponsors pledge $50,000 or more, you’ll have the money to go forward with your production run. Once the aprons are produced, you can mail them to your sponsors. If you don’t hit the funding goal, no money moves and you can walk away.
All Kickstarter projects have a deadline that you get to set. Typically it is 30 days. After the Kickstarter project ends, you can choose to sell your aprons through traditional channels, but you don't have to. All my projects are available at calamityware.com.
How did your Kickstarter projects get started?
Several years ago, I inherited a traditional blue dinner plate with fancy borders and a landscape with pagodas in the center. Variations of this design have been around for more than 200 years. You can find plates like this at almost any flea market. It’s usually called a blue-willow pattern because there is always a willow somewhere in the scene.
I admired the intricate detail of that plate and thought it would be fun to draw one in my sketchbook and add a pterodactyl. I found myself drawing a series of different plates, each with some unexpected calamity to add spice to the traditional tranquil scene. I called my plates Calamityware.
I don’t copy old plates. I try to mimic them in my own style—to capture the feeling of traditional plates with my own forms. I do that by looking at a bunch of traditional plates and then putting them away and drawing whatever I can remember. That way, I can capture the spirit of old plates with new details.
When I posted my drawings on my Flickr page, people said they wish they could have real dinner plates with my drawings. I launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding project to discover if I could find enough people to fund a production run of a porcelain plate. It wasn’t difficult to find a couple hundred fun-loving people who were willing to support something beautiful, utilitarian, and funny.
I’ve now done nine Kickstarter projects for Calamityware—plates, bandanas, and letterpress prints. So far, each project has met its funding goal.
What kind of people support your projects?
People who monitor Kickstarter are looking for something new or unusual. They like the idea of finding a product that isn’t in any store.
My projects appeal to people with a sly sense of humor. Many of them describe a scenario where they serve dinner on a Calamityware plate and wait for their guest to discover the calamity. Some have described using Calamityware as a filter. Guests who fail to notice that their plate is strange aren’t invited back.
What do sponsors expect?
Obviously, sponsors expect some kind of reward. Most projects create a hierarchy of reward levels so that sponsors can choose to contribute a little or a lot. These rewards are important. It isn’t always practical, but I try to include a little something extra—an unexpected lagniappe—in addition to the reward I promised. Sponsors of my BADbandanas also get a pack of silly postcards. Sponsors of my sea monster jamboree letterpress print get a bonus rhinoceros print.
Sponsors also expect updates. Because a Kickstarter project can stretch over many months from the time the project is launched until rewards are shipped, you need to send periodic reports to let sponsors know what’s happening. Sponsors have an emotional investment in your project. They love to see pictures and hear reports about how your design evolved and what decisions you are making. They expect to get a peek behind the curtain and see the creative process.
Sponsors also expect transparency. They don’t mind hearing bad news. Sponsors want to hear about any problems or delays you encounter and what strategies you are using to resolve the problem. Often major roadblocks appear. One of the attractions of supporting a Kickstarter project is to glimpse the production process and the challenges of bringing something new to market.
What about crowdfunding projects surprised you?
I have been surprised at how easy it is to communicate with sponsors, both individually and as a group. People who are excited about your project will share their impressions, complaints, and ideas with you. It’s almost like they are looking over your shoulder and commenting on what they like and don’t like.
What mistakes should novices avoid?
There are two mistakes I warn novices about.
First, crowdfunding is not a charity. People aren’t giving you a gift so you can realize your dream project. They expect some kind of reward. In general, listing a sponsor’s name on a web page or sending them a thank-you post card isn’t enough. They want something significant.
Second, make sure you set your funding goal high enough. You cannot change your goal once the project starts. If you don’t collect enough money, there’s no way to ask your sponsors for more.
You must anticipate all the little hidden expenses that may come up and make sure your funding goal is adequate. My first two projects were small, so it wasn’t a disaster when I discovered that I hadn’t allowed for some extra fees, increased postage rates, extra packaging materials, and a few other troublemakers.
The Textile Collective has selected SPD guild member Charlotte "Lotti" Brown as their Featured Artist this month. Lotti worked for many years in interior and garden design, and as a color consultant. I recent years she discovered Spoonflower, and became aware of the world of surface pattern design. Lotti is inspired by the flora of her rural Yorkshire surroundings, the sea, and the nearby ancient city of York. She has completed Rachel Taylor’s course, Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design.
The Textile Collective is a relatively new venture, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. It provides a platform for artists seeking to showcase and license their work, while setting their own prices.
We like to follow our guild members in their careers, and mark their successes. If you have something to share, we'd love to hear about it! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your news.
It's Surtex time, and our members are to be found strutting their stuff around the web.
Many of us let our creativity out in multiple outlets. Why confine yourself to just one medium when there are so many to be explored. I often find myself drawn to designers/artists that are not afraid to try different things. Ultimately for us any painting, drawing or sculpture could become the basis for a fabric design. For me, one such artist is Yayoi Kusama.
Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese multimedia artist that got her start in New York in the 1960’s. Kusama has worked in many different mediums over her 86 years creating art. While in New York she became well known as a fabric and clothing designer; with her own boutique and hosting pop-up Happenings, she was the talk of the town. In 2012 Kusama came back into the United States visual sphere as part of a collaboration with Louis Vuitton. Before the year was out everything Louis Vuitton was covered in Kusama’s signature polka dots.
While recently reacquainting myself with Kusama’s flowing rivers of polka dots I came across this trailer for a movie called Self Obliteration by Martin Rietti of her working. To see her work in her studio surrounded by her canvases is inspirational. As Kusama says about her own work, “When I am facing a canvas my mind is blank and ideas just come in my head when I am drawing.”
May we all face our blank page, canvas or screen in the very same way.
It took a year and a half to develop the collection, from the beginning of the design process to the launch of the final product. “When we started, we realized that our organic design style would work well with the hand-block print process,” Sarah says, “but even so, as we designed, we really kept the mechanics of the process in mind.” Their color palette is also well-studied: “The colors fit right in with current home decor trends, and each design stands both individually and enhances the entire group. We have a very mix and match collection for a more daring interior!” says Ruby.
The results are stunning. The marriage of the colorful, graphic designs and the artisanal process make for wallpaper that is bold, organic, and simultaneously modern and traditional.
Check out The First Impression Collection on Sarah & Ruby's website.
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pattern design related news, information, or tips to share? We want to hear from you!