Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year's Questions

I am posting for the first time since last May.  When one has a public profile, even a small one like mine, one feels doubly guilty about not performing to standard.  But this blog, for me, has always been my "commercial" side, whereas the other blog I write, the eponymous one, has been used to muse about larger issues which may or may not be reflected in my fine artwork.

I am both a textile designer, and a fine artist.  The real me?  well, the role that feeds my soul is that of the artist.  The designer is in service to a market, designing products which one hopes will sell.  This involves market assessment, cooperation with clients, trend spotting -- or, more usually, trend-following, which is a lot less rewarding.

For me, design itself is a sense of play and freedom from the weightier issues that I attempt to address in my serious art work, but, because it involves partnering with larger companies and also must cater to the desires of the market for which these products are produced, the spontaneity and joy I experience while designing are tempered with a small sense of loss.

Has anyone else in the creative community spent the new year's period wondering how to hold off the forces of the market? of relentless self-promotion that is trumpeted as an absolute necessity for survival?  of the de rigeur practice of looking happy-faced for social media?  of having to engage daily with the happy face, in fact?  Facebook is telling me today that it has been 19 days since I last posted and that my fans want to hear from me!  sigh.  I want to think, and I don't want to worry about being forgotten while I take some quiet time.

As a result, I also neglect this blog.  I associate it more with having to trumpet my accomplishments, than with musing about my process.  I am currently re-working my website with a plan of taking it off the strictly storefront basis for ribbon, and using it to incorporate all aspects of my creative work, including a much-needed gallery of my artwork.  (I almost said portfolio!  a word which I associate with constantly seeking a job or approval.)  It will link these blogs, my etsy store for ribbon, my etsy store for household textiles, a portfolio (yes!) of design work, and a gallery of tapestries.

Retrospection is a necessary part of a well-lived life, and I hope that those of you who read this will take the time to comment here about your own struggles with an increasingly commercial world.  I wish you all a happy and truly creative new year.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sewing my own prints

Spoonflower recently made a new fabric available which has changed my whole approach to dressing -- in that I finally can order my prints on a fabric substrate that makes sense for the way I dress.  They call it Modern Jersey, and it is a lightweight interlock knit made of polyester and lycra -- in other words, perfect for leggings!

Well, I haven't yet had someone snap a photo of me in my splashy leggings but here I am at our weekend art festival wearing the dress I made of the same fabric in my Sophie pattern.

here I am in Spoonflower's modern jersey, printed with my Sophie design.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

LinkedIn and the price of design

It seems quite fashionable right now to say "I am not doing Facebook anymore."  Even more frequent: "I have no use for LinkedIn."

I won't get into Facebook here, but I have to say that I find LinkedIn quite worthwhile.  When I first joined, like many people, it was because I got a request from someone, and thought, "why not?".  Then my account sat idle for a very long time with a terse profile description and the odd connection being randomly added.

Then I found out about the groups, and it changed everything.  Depending upon your industry, there are hundreds of groups of people with similar interests who are chatting away about something or other that may have real relevance to things you think about every day.

I hasten to add, though it is referred to as a social network, I view LinkedIn as a network for making business connections.  So, I am a textile artist and designer, and I want to talk to other people involved in similar pursuits.  In particular, I would like to have more design clients, more design opportunities, so I have joined groups of people who are working toward similar goals and sharing information about them.

I belong to Textile Designers, Freelance Textile Designers,  The Art of Licensing, Design Sourcing, Jacquard Designing, sustainable Textiles, among others.  Some groups are quite active, others don't have much bearing on my interests and I really should kiss them goodbye.

This post was inspired by a discussion I read tonight in The Art of Licensing, a very active group of all kinds of licensing artists from illustrators to cartoonists to textile designers like me.  It was about pricing your work, a very dodgy issue, which people are quite secretive  about.  I can't tell you how hard it is to figure out what to charge, and you don't want to seem like an amateur and flat out ask, do you?  Every job is different , in some ways, and every job has a different value.  So, for those of you interested in such arcana, here is what I was referred to.  I hope it is as helpful for those of you who are designers, as it was for me. I am posting the direct link to the article which was discussed on LinkedIn.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Radiant Orchid 2012

I was going through my vast number of uploaded designs yesterday at Spoonflower, the online print-on-demand fabric service (Spoonflower has a great option in that you can offer your own designs for sale and receive a nice commission whenever someone else buys fabric printed with one of your designs).

 All designs copyright Laura Foster Nicholson 2012-2014.  All rights reserved.

I did a big collection in a colorway I called Plum in 2012, and as I came across it yesterday I realized there it was! Radiant Orchid!  I have written about this rather curious color a couple of times already, commenting on how "outside" the norm it seemed to me, and yet here I had used it with a generous hand in a design collection 2 years ago.  OK, proof that color trending is indeed insightful.

I wonder how many of you have had this color creep into your wardrobe or your home or your creative work in the past couple of years? Yes, that is how a trend is spotted.  Most of us unconscious of it until it reaches a critical mass, and someone like Faith Popcorn or Pantone points it out and shout, "AHA!"

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Making Posters

I confess, I never took a graphic design course in my life.  Add that to the fact that I have a certain amount of wry appreciation for the fact that nowadays, with computer options, "everyone is a designer", that I am a rank amateur along with the hordes of people out there with Photoshop and maybe Illustrator in their toolkits, and, well, let's just keep this in perspective.
Hearts in Harmony, Laura Foster Nicholson (c) 2014 all rights reserved

Nonetheless, I have had a lot of fun in recent weeks making various posters for town events here in New Harmony.  One bleak afternoon in early February I had to make a poster for a fund raising event for our spring art fair, and I was browsing the web for source imagery for a different project altogether when a few images jumped out to me and made me laugh.  I was just off balance enough to grab them, throw out what little I thought I knew about design, and make some silly posters.  I think it was the most creative thing I have done since the solstice.  And note, of course, the keyword here is FUN.

The fund raiser was a great success and I got my shot in the arm of creative sunshine.  Maybe I have a future!

Friday, December 27, 2013

and then there is the new RUG for Crate & Barrel

Here is a new rug I am thrilled about.  Designed around the same time I designed the pillows but what a difference color makes!  One of my favorite palettes.  To quote from the website: "Ochre, sage and lime green spiral in a kaleidoscope of organic shapes, inspired by the feathery forms and subtle coloration of lichen. Laura Foster Nicholson's abstract medallion design is masterfully realized in hand-tufted 100% wool."
Cecily wool rug
"Cecily" wool rug by Laura Foster Nicholson for Crate & Barrel

new designs for Crate & Barrel

Petal pillow, Laura Foster Nicholson for Crate & Barrel
I always love it when my new designs come online.  Today I found that the trio of pillows I designed for Crate & Barrel for Spring 2014 are online.  They are fun!  Falling into the Suzani tradition, they are screen printed linen and then embellished with embroidery and crocheted flowers.  Love them!

Petal pillow, Laura Foster Nicholson for Crate & Barrel
Vinova pillow, Laura Foster Nicholson for Crate & Barrel