I often get questions about my design process, so I thought I’d give you a peek into my process and studio here. This is something we’ll add to the new website when it goes live, hopefully in a few weeks.
To create my large-scale floral prints, I use both traditional and digital art media.
A design begins with inspiration, of course. For me, this comes from books and the internet, from visits to shops and museums, and from my own photographs. I’m constantly collecting this material, so that, when it’s time to start a new design, I have a library of images to cull through to create what you could call a ‘mood board’, or a starting point.
Then I create a rough pencil sketch on a large piece of paper, or several pieces of paper taped together against a wall. I use this sketch as a means to pin down ‘the big picture’, standing as I draw, blocking out forms and determining the scale and proportion of elements, and how they relate to each other. Stepping back to have a look from a distance, I begin thinking about how a design will repeat, which is an art form in itself.
I then take a photograph of this sketch with my iPhone, import it into Photoshop, scale it up, and start filling in colors and details using custom-made Photoshop brushes that I’ve created to achieve different effects. I do this painting using a Wacom tablet and pen.
Just as one would do with traditional media, I start with large brushes and rough strokes, gradually layering up detail using increasingly smaller and more refined brushes. In the beginning, it’s a matter of applying the right colors in the right places. In the end, I move on to blending and sharpening details. Working with a Wacom tablet allows me a freedom and flexibility to build up in layers, take steps back when necessary, and play with color and composition in a way that traditional media does not.
That being said, I apply my fine arts background (BA Painting and Art History, Wesleyan University, 1999 and MFA, New York University, 2005) to the designs I create in this way.
Since October 2015, I’ve also been studying Old Master techniques in oil painting at Academie Renshof in Utrecht, NL with Gerd Renshof. This class has opened my eyes to 17th century insights and approaches to light, color and contrast as a means to create the illusion of space and depth, something that’s very important to my work and the concept behind it.
It’s my hope to apply these ‘Golden Age’ insights and techniques using new technology, in a new context (the interior design and fashion industries), on a large scale, to create a truly unique style of floral print which doesn’t hang on a wall but IS the wall, the mood, etc.
This process of going from a rough, blocked out pencil sketch to a detailed, finished design takes me about 6 months to a year.
And once the design itself is finished, a whole new part of my process begins: testing it on different materials and applying it to different products. I hang up the wallpaper, wear the scarves and generally live with the design in its different incarnations. I photograph the new products in different situations, at different times of day. When people come to my studio, I ask for their thoughts and feedback.
In this way, a design may continue to grow and evolve over a period of years. If nothing else, each design is an education in and of itself, informing my next piece, and my next step.