Designer, Fabric design, Modern Fabric, New Fabric

An interview with Victoria Johnson about her debut collection “Whisper”

It’s almost Spring and we can’t get over the beautiful colors and prints of Victoria Johnson’s debut collection for Windham Fabrics “Whisper”. Butterflies floating among painterly, collaged florals. Chic, but ultra-feminine with a sophisticated, muted palette, these prints would work beautifully for so many projects – from cushions and bedding to dresses and tote bags. We can’t stop thinking about about all of the endless possibilities!

To learn a little more about Victoria and her design process, we interviewed her and here is what she says about it!

 

Victoria Johnson

Victoria Johnson

Q: What’s the story and inspiration behind your collection? 

Awhile ago I decided it was time to do something I’d been wanting to do for years – start painting again.  I’d been working digitally, almost exclusively, for more than a decade and felt like I was denying myself something really important.  I created a number of textural, patterned pieces using paint and collage then looked at them and thought about how they could be used to create a more commercial body of work.  I love drawing figurative things that are vehicles for color and pattern and so I decided to create a series of four butterflies and use elements of my paintings to decorate them.

Q: What mood or point of view have you brought into this project? 

I think the overall effect is very feminine and quite grown-up.  I was a womenswear textile designer for many years so that influences my work a lot. I would actually like to wear most of the prints in this collection.

Q: How did your collaboration with Windham Fabrics come about?

My agent at the time, Jennifer Nelson Artists, contacted Windham Fabrics and asked if they’d like to review my work and they selected my butterflies.

Q: How has your experience been working alongside Windham Fabrics on this collection?

Windham Fabrics have been very involved in the process, offering guidance and support at each stage.  Laura Jaquinto is kind and easy to communicate with.  She seems very keen to allow me to make decisions about how the fabrics should look, while carefully explaining the technical requirements and certain ways in which I can make the work appeal more specifically to the Windham consumer.  Everyone at Windham is exceptionally polite and encouraging!!

Q: How is it different designing for fabric vs. designing for another medium such as greeting cards, dishware etc. ? 

I love designing with fabric in mind because of the merchandizing aspect.  I always work in collections anyway.  I think there are so many benefits to working that way – speed, efficiency, creating high-impact bodies of work, exploring a  theme and so on. However, fabric designing is particularly fun because the components of a collection can be extremely diverse in terms of color and scale (for example) yet each piece has to sit well with and complement all the other pieces in the collection.  This is quite an enjoyable challenge – designing a body of cohesive imagery that can range from tiny little marks to large scale figurative statement pieces.

Q: Describe your creative process when designing fabric. 

I start with my cornerstone, my key piece, that includes most or all of the color palette and imagery that denotes the theme.  When I’ve established my palette and am 100% happy with it I move on to the supplementary designs, expanding on the theme or drawing out the smaller elements from the original design.  I try to make sure each ground color is different – that the colors are fairly evenly distributed across the range, that there’s a variety of scale.

Q: Can you choose your favorite print from the collection and tell us why it’s your favorite? 

I’d have to say the key butterfly piece, just because it’s so close to the original artwork and it’s lovely to see the fabric and the art prints together.  However, I do also love the linear butterfly prints, particularly the dark ground with the off-white line.  I can imagine myself wearing this one.

Main Print from Whisper by Victoria Johnson

Main Print from Whisper by Victoria Johnson

Q: What’s the one thing you can’t live without? 

Ha!  There are so many answers to this.  But in the context of being an artist I’d say my art equipment.  I’ve lived in several countries and worked in a variety of places.  At times I’ve lived in lovely, comfortable homes, at others (pre-children) I’ve been more itinerant.  However, I always carted a decent supply of art equipment around with me.  I can’t imagine not having access to it.

The more obvious answer to this question would have been coffee and chocolate.

Q: What other designers, makers or artists inspire your work

I like Anne Davies, Lola Donoghue, Rex Ray, Joseph Frank, Marimekko – and dozens more!

Q: Do you have a favorite quote or philosophy you live by? 

Not deliberately or consciously but I do often find myself thinking, “Why not me?”.  I may see someone doing something that looks great and think I’d like to try and accomplish something similar.  Then when the inevitable, doubtful commentary switches on in my mind,  I think, “Why not me?  Why shouldn’t I have a go?”.  I think this has served me quite well over the years.

Q: What are you up to when you’re not designing?

I love cooking.  I’m never more relaxed than when I’m preparing food.  I never bake and never follow recipes so it’s a very creative process.  I also read a lot.   Mainly though, I spend time with my two funny children.

Q: Do you have any other upcoming projects lined up for 2016-2017?

I’m working on a lovely, new fabric collection for Windham and my design work for my key clients is always going on in the background.  I’m very excited about my annual visit to New York this May as I’ll be approaching it a little differently this time round.

Thank you so much Victoria!

Be sure to look for this line in stores NOW!

Also, for more information about Victoria Johnson, follow her on her social media accounts :

Happy Sewing!

 

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