Hello Fabric Fanatics! 🙂
We are so excited to share our interview with Windham Fabrics Designer, Maria Carluccio!
Q: What’s the story and inspiration behind your collection?
I was definitely inspired by my own cat Alegra, who as I write this, is ramming her head into my hand so I’ll pet her. She and all the cats I’ve know my entire life have inspired me to create this collection. Cats are all such amazing creatures, which I’m in awe of. I always think that when you live with an animal you begin to learn to speak a specific language with them. It’s as if you are bi lingual, you know what they mean (most of the time) and they know you as well. I guess that’s what made me consider the idea that cat’s could be obsessed with books just like me. I write and illustrate children’s book so that’s probably why I see characters and stories in most of the things I create. It was really fun to come up with the titles for the books too. What would a cat read? Why “A Tail of Two Kitties or Eat, Prey, Lick, of course.
Q: Tell us a bit more about yourself, how did you start ?
I used to draw a lot as a kid. I remember one time I went into my basement (where I would do a lot of my art projects) and I drew a tube of toothpaste and toothbrush pretty realistically. I think I was about 11 or 12. I came up and showed my mother who was an artist, and she was impressed. I saw that I could do something others couldn’t do and it made me feel special. When I discovered that I would be praised for this talent I guess it drove me to keep going, to keep creating. It’s funny how our identity gets developed through such random things.
Q: What mood or point of view have you brought into this project?
I defiantly feel as though I want to inspire whimsy and humor in this project. I tried to create bold graphic shapes for this collection since cat silhouettes are pretty recognizable. I also wanted to make sure there was some sort of narrative aspect included as well. Cats are so funny to watch, they have such hilarious ways of moving through the world. When I create my art I try to include details so the viewer might be inspired to create their own narrative (in this case, they might see their own cat). I also love trying to pair things down to their essential qualities. I ask myself “how can I describe the actions of a cat in simplest terms possible.
Q: Describe your creative process when designing fabric.
Each project really varies. The “Smarty Cats” collection was based on a personal project I had been working on for a long time. It started as a pencil sketch of loads of crazy cats crammed together doing all different “cat things”.
Sometimes, with complex images, I need to start with one small thing at a time. So I tried to see if I could create just one of those cats in color. After I did one I liked I just kept going and eventually I decided to have them all playing in a huge kitty condo. This image was the inspiration for my cat collection. I liked the playfulness, the expressions, the angular shapes and graphic nature. I tried to keep the integrity of that through out the collection. It’s funny, I did the “smarty cats” book cats piece after the kitty condo but “smarty cats” book cats was our favorite in the end so we decided to lead with that one and take out the kitty condo pattern all together.
Q: How did your collaboration with Windham Fabrics come about?
I was introduced to Windham through my friend Janine Vangool from Uppercase magazine. I have had my work in Uppercase over the years and I’m a big fan of Janine’s work as well. I told her how much I loved her patterns with Windham and she recommended my work to Mickey Kruger. It was incredibly generous of her and I’m so grateful she helped introduce me.
Q: How has your experience been working alongside Windham Fabrics on this collection?
I love working with Windham. They were incredibly supportive from the get go. I showed them a huge amount of art that we could choose from for my debut collection. Eventually we both really loved the kitty condo art. We both thought the kitty condo art could be easily expanded into a collection. Originally I had a much softer color palette but Windham had wanted me to stick to the palette of the kitty condo art. I liked the bolder palette Sandy and Laura suggested. It was refreshing to try a palette I might not have considered before.
Q: Can you choose your favorite print from the collection and tell us why it’s your favorite?
I think I like the cat’s on bookshelf image best because its fun to find the cats, the mice and the titles on the books. I love patterns that have hidden “bonus” things. I also like the way the books themselves are a simple abstract pattern.
Q: What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
Probably my computer or phone. I always need to connect to the world through email and I need my computer to help bring my work to the next level at times. Personally, I can’t live with out my daughter. She’s really the most important person in my life.
Q: What other designers, makers or artists inspire your work?
There are so many. I love the work of Paul Rand, who I was lucky enough to take a summer studies course with years ago. I also love the work of Paul Klee, Leo Espinoza, Jon Klassen, Isabelle Arsenault, Roger Duvoisin, Sara Gillingham, Sonia Delaunay, Ben Shaun, Robert Roth, Penny Dullaghan, Jane Ormes, Katsumi Komagata, and Aurore de la Morinerie. Just to name a few…
Q: Do you have a favorite quote or philosophy you live by?
Different messages resonate at different times in my life. I have a big stack of 3×5 cards with quotes of phrases that I jot down all the time. Here are a few I’ve been looking at recently.
“Time is precious, don’t waste it wishing you were someone else”.
“Take what you have here and now and do something with it”.
“Curiosity is addictive”.
“Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you feel alive because the world needs people who can come alive”.
Q: What are you up to when you’re not designing?
I love to be in nature. I also love swimming and yoga, although I wish I did that more than I actually do. I just really enjoy being out in the world, it gets hard to work from home at times, I really need to get out and meet people, to feel connected to my community or I can get kind of blue. I find inspiration through exposing myself to the arts, like seeing films, hearing music and meeting awesome people.
Q: Do you have any other upcoming projects lined up for 2017-2018?
I am juggling a few projects right now. One is an interactive dress up flipbook that allows kids to choose different patterns for each character in order to create an outfit. It will be published by Chronicle books and should be out sometime next year I believe.
I’m also working on a book dummy but that’s very slow going…I stop and start all the time. I have a few dummies in the works these days. I am also getting geared up for Surtex this Spring. I’m excited to have a booth this year but there’s a lot of prep work. Finally, I always do my “collage or drawing a day” sketch book which I post on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter everyday. I’ve been doing this for over a year now. It’s a great way for me to explore anything I’m curious about and share it with the world.
Thank you so much Maria!
Be sure to follow her on Instagram @carluccio7
Smarty Cats is available in a quilt shop near you!