Sunday, October 10, 2010

the creation of a fabric collection

Hello! How was your weekend? I hope your weekend was relaxing and full of important ingredient for a happy life:) I laughed a lot. We had friends over for dinner and ate lots of food, shared stories of life and stayed up way to late. A great time! It is these precious moments with friends that make me forget about the stresses of the week, and realize that everything is going to be OK.

I thought I would share a little behind the scenes with you on the design process for "Sweet Tooth" and "Folk Life", my two recent collections with Anthology Fabrics. These two collections are very special to me for a number of reasons.

First, these are my first collections on fabric where my name is actually on them. I have been designing for major retails for over 15 years. I have seen my designs on everything from clothing, plates, even snow-globes. But my name was never attached to them. When you buy "Sweet Tooth" or "Folk Life", you will find my name on the selvedge! For me, that is really cool!

Second, they are 100% Diane Kappa, no one telling me to change anything. No compromise, no committee of people saying to change the color, the changes! Actually there was one person who kept having me change My inner critic is the toughest one to please:) Having no changes is very unusual for designers. There is almost always someone telling you to tweak something about your design to make it better...but I will talk more about this in a bit.

lets get started on the creation of the collections...

Step 1: I always buy the newest magazines for inspiration, color and to keep me current with trends. However, I don't like keeping the magazines around for very long. They quickly start taking up space and they make me feel less mobile...strange hugh? And honestly, do you ever go through them again, really? So, after a month or two I go through them very meticulously and tear them up. I create small print boards (A4 size) that are based on color. These become very handy when starting a new collection.
6 boards that inspired the colors for Sweet Tooth and Folk Life
Step 2: Next is the most important step for me. A clear mind, no computer and traditional tools...a pencil and paint brush. I sketch and paint to find inspiration…to create the basis of my designs. For some reason, drawing with a pencil (not a mouse) and using a paint brush helps my mind feel free and clear to explore different ideas and take risks-there is no undo!

Here is where Sweet Tooth and Folk Life came to life. We took a weekend trip to the Csákbereny where I only brought my sketchbook. This was my "studio" for the weekend.
Kis Alma Haz (Little Apple House)
All the images in the Folk Life photo series are taken at the cottage we stayed.
The bottom left image of the cherries was taken by
Barnabás Imre, the photographer who took my portraits. I love the way the cherries pop from the image and the faded red chair in the background....hints of blue showing through...ahhh...
Being at this sweet cottage was the true inspiration for me.

Step 3: After getting good solid ideas sketched out, I redraw them with black pen and scan them into the computer. I perfect the illustrations, play with layout and finalize color placement.

Images of my sketchbook from that weekend.
Step 4: Color can sometimes be the hardest part. I often fall in love with a color combination that I know will only appeal to a small part of the population. So, I tweak, tweak and tweak...making the blue a little less green, or should it be a little more green and making the pink a bit more orange, a little less purple...I try to think about what colors are trending in home furnishings and create color palettes that will compliment what people may already have in their home.

Step 5: Remember I said there is no community of people telling me to change things....well, there kind of is. After I think I am finished, I send the collection and color ways to 5 people who I respect as artists and designers. They give me honest feedback on the collection as a whole, the colors I have used and each individual print. This is so important to me! After working with the collection so closely for weeks, I need fresh eyes to look at it and give me feedback. Recently, I have added 4 quilters to the group. They give feedback from a quilter point of view. This is invaluable for me!

Step 6: After I receive all the feedback from people, I look for common comments. Often there will be two or three comments that over lap...change the scale of one of the prints to be larger, use less colors in a print or try adding a pop color. The comments are great! I pull the collection out again and try the changes being suggested. Sometimes I agree with them and make the change and sometimes I think it looks best as is.

Step 7: After I am happy with the collection, I send it to Anthology Fabrics. From there, they start the manufacturing process and we both start the marketing process. In many ways, the hard part is just beginning...selling and marketing.

Sweet Tooth: my favorite colorway
Folk Life: My favorite colorway
So, that is how I design a collection. I hope this post was interesting and give you a bit of insight into my work. Are you a designer or artist? I would love to hear your process. Post your blog in my comments and I will check it out!


Anonymous said...

hi diane, love ur work especially the colors! do you use a pen tool or live trace your patterns in illustrator?

Diane Kappa said...

I use a wacom tablet and pen and I love live trace! I just got CS5 and love the blob tool (with pressure sensitive) also. It gives the same effect as when I paint on silk.

Anonymous said...

Folklife....the colors appeal to me most. Love your sketchbook drawings. You have to feel exhilirating with your accomplishments! Life is good!

Stephanie Ryan said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing. I know how you feel about having your name finally placed on product. I have a similar situation with dinnerware. I have been in the industry for 8 years and finally have a collection with MY art and MY name!!!!! So exciting and liberating isn't it? Love your collections!

Diane Kappa said...

Hi Stephanie!
Thanks for comments. I have been following your blog and I love your watercolors! You are a true inspiration for me! And congratulations on the dinnerware. This is fantastic! Please keep in touch and good luck! Keep the blog posts coming - I love the video you posted of you drawing.

Diane Kappa said...

Peggy, Yes, life is good. I cannot complain as I love what I am doing. I am very lucky!