As many of you know, we recently added a private Pattern Observer membership site for current students and alumni. It is still in its infancy, but is already proving to be a wonderful space for students to meet and support one another through their training. I have been so inspired by all the wonderful designers who have joined our group that I want to share some of what is happening with the rest of the Pattern Observer community. I’ll be doing this through monthly workshop and member highlights and…. I cannot think of a better way to kick it off than with an interview with my right hand gal, Chelsea Densmore. Chelsea is an amazing designer, a repeat master and keeps this blogging ticking along on a daily basis. So let’s learn a little bit about her story..
Tell us a little bit about yourself: What got you interested in textile design? Drawing has been my number one joy and passion ever since I was tiny! And without really realizing it, my artistic style has always revolved around patterns. When I was about 13 I started getting really interested in fashion, spending hours reading and re-reading issues of VOGUE, and dreaming of being a fashion designer. But for most of my life I took for granted the prints on the clothes, never considering that it was actually someone’s job to design them! I assumed fabric just came magically pre-printed and had no concept of the work that goes into each print. I became aware that textile design existed when my mom, who worked at a library, saw a book come through about Marimekko. She emailed me about it and said it reminded her of my doodles. I started reading about the company and knew instantly that this was my dream job!! I had never come across anything that so perfectly melded my love of art and fashion together. So I started researching schools (all the while finishing up my BFA in dance) and finally settled on the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. Two weeks after graduating with my dance degree, my boyfriend and I packed up the car and headed down to LA so I could start my textile design studies!
What type of work do you love to do? For example, develop prints to sell, work with clients, etc? I love creating original prints and hope that in the future that can be the majority of the work that I do. I also really enjoy developing colorways. I can while away hours playing with the color combinations for a single print…I just have so much fun with color!
Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your work? I live in Montana and am lucky to have access to some really amazing scenery and it inspires me every day. I love going on walks and taking pictures of lichen, rocks, tree bark, and interesting insects. I use the macro setting on my camera to capture tiny textures and patterns that might otherwise go unnoticed.
What, in your opinion, is the hardest step in creating a print? Just starting is the hardest part for me! I sometimes will get overwhelmed by the infinite sources of design inspiration out there and have a hard time focusing in on one concept. It helps me to set limits and create rules and give myself “assignments.” Once I have an assignment in place, it eliminates some of the noise and allows me to zone in on one idea. From there it’s easy for the idea to change and grow as I’m working, so I don’t find it too limiting.
What one action has made the biggest impact on your business? Buying my iMac! It felt like a big, scary purchase at the time, but it has turned out to be such a worthwhile investment for my business. My beat-up old laptop couldn’t really handle Photoshop and Illustrator and would freeze all the time! It was so frustrating and brought me to tears more than once. Now I have a computer that does everything I tell it to do, when I tell it to do it! It has made my life so much easier and now I can’t imagine trying to design without it.
What advice do you have for emerging designers? My advice for designers on the job hunt: stalk Craigslist every day! And most importantly, don’t limit your search to just your current location, see what is posted in New York, LA, Seattle, and other major cities. I’ve found almost all of my work this way, including my job with Michelle!
My advice for print development: Take pictures–a lot of them–and not just when you go on vacation but in your day-to-day life! The more you can rely on your own photos when creating a print the better; it leaves no wiggle room for copyright issues and it’s satisfying to create every part of the print from scratch!
What are your favorite tools or resources?
1. My Wacom pad (an old Bamboo but I couldn’t live without it)