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Finding My Style

Sheree BurlingtonComment

My fabric design journey began in 2011 when I picked up a copy of Kimberly Kight's new book, A Field Guide to Fabric Design. I was lead to her new publication by a link on her popular blog, True Up.  Kim has since moved on from blogging about fabric to a collaborative fabric design effort for Cotton & Steel, a division of RJR Fabrics. Yay Kim! 

Most of my attention was focused on the pages describing the mechanics of repeats. Because to the untrained eye, it kind of looks like magic. In the section "Designing Repeats by Hand" she explained explained step by step how to physically create a repeat. There was something about the act of drawing, cutting and reassembling the design that solidified the concept in my mind. 

According to Kim, textile designs fall into three distinct categories: Floral, Geometric and Novelty. With the exception of my first ever Illustrator (Ai) teacup pattern, most of my patterns fall into the floral category. While I was not consciously aware of the choice, florals are a good choice for the me because stylized flowers are easy to draw and are happy even when rendered in non-traditional colors.

Because I've been designing in black and white for almost a decade, working with color does not come naturally. And since it slows me down so much, my last several designs feature the same recycled color palette. The cool thing about Illustrator is that recoloring designs is incredibly easy - literally the touch of a button. 

Finding one's personal style is an organic, evolutionary process that can't be rushed. It took me more than a year of creating abstract design collages before a distinct style began to emerge. It was fun to hear followers say that they recognized my work before even seeing my name. My newest pottery designs are based on hand sketches and are a real departure from my earlier work. Even they have a Sheree-ness to them. Eventually, so will my pattern work. 

In my 30 year long design career, all of my mistakes and missteps have been made in private. I've shared my work only after it's been worked and reworked and scaled and tweaked to death. Sharing this very personal design process, along with all of its imperfections, is a bit scary. And a bit fun.