Think it, draw it, make it!

Kim Schubel
Artist for @Kim Can Drw and Textile designer for @Schudio

I have always loved fabrics, i don't know why but there has always been something special about them.

I recall as a kid my mum having boxes and shelves full of piles and remnants of textiles. She also loved them, i guess that's where it comes from. I recall early in my upbringing wearing handmade clothing that she made, even winning a local contest (in which I modeled a nautical outfit). Although she hasn't sewn for many years now, she is still a lover of fabrics.

That's something I re-learned in 2017 when we spent hours in a fabric store in Vancouver Canada together. We had only a day there en-route to Toronto and we chose to spend a lot of the day rummaging through bolts of beautiful fabrics. We had a great time too, and remarked at how it wouldn't have happened had we been with anyone else (particularly our husbands). I bought some select and stunning pieces of fabric that day, one a bright orange and green floral, the other a Japanese geisha repeat print. There was something so important about those fabrics, they would be coming back to Australia with me, and they would be given a new life. Nearly 2 years later these pieces sit in a drawer untouched, and not yet spoken for... but I treasure them all the same. I know one day, there will be a specific and meaningful outcome for them.

So i guess its no surprise I have taken the current path I'm on, designing textiles that is... trying to be a textiles designer. I didn't study it, i studied the related fields of Interior Design and Graphic design. But not textile design specifically, i have just been ... ummm winging it you might say. I have ideas of what i want to see, and i try to somehow make it happen.

This might be as good as place as any to tell you just how i do that, make a  textile design that is. Firstly, I try to have a plan, to be honest that's not always the case. I have a general concept or 3 floating around in my head and that's usually where I begin. From there, I get it onto paper; i like working traditionally, for me that's just what works. I know a lot of designers go straight into digital media, and that's cool, but it's not me. I learned and have worked with pencils and paints since forever and so i know this as my foundation. I use acrylics (typically) and a heavy duty low texture paper. I start with a sketch before working up a fairly detailed painting, always finished with a good outline, that's part of my trademark style. From here, it becomes digital, yep straight into the scanner and into Photoshop. Now depending on how good my painting, blending and line work was in my original piece will depend on how much editing i will do here.

Image: Traditional drawing/painting 

 Image: Adding painting details, shadows and line work.

Ultimately all I really want to do is clean up the image and play with the hue and saturation of the colours. In saying that sometimes, it needs a lot more 'fixing', which becomes very labor intensive and to be honest really boring.

Next I have to make this thing into a repeat, or at-least something that works in metres of fabric... that's a tricky thing to conquer. I did teach myself this, and its working pretty well so far, not to say that i wont get stumped at some point. Once I have repeat or layout which will work if more than a metre is printed, i choose a background colour (if required).

Image: Cleaning up the lines, filling gaps, fixing the hue and saturation of colour.
Image: Making a repeat and choosing background colours 

Using a Pantone colour matching system is a great way to get a more predictable result (as long as you have a chart to compare to). But i have done it other ways before, and done some test printing on my printer to kinda get an idea of how it will look. Finally getting an actual test print of the fabric itself is crucial, just a metre to see what the physical thing looks like. Thankfully textiles are generally forgiving and don't show up all the mistakes I think will show up, not the way paper printing does. So most of the time, its a win!

Once I'm happy and Cass is happy, we send off for more... then we can make all the pretty things. Well more like that's when Cass makes the pretty things, she is a main maker. Of course, I give her plenty of imput, its my art and I have very specific ideas about how it should look. Cass is very respectful of this, and we always work it out.

Image Finished textile product in our tea towel (cotton/linen)



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