Katy and I are still going through all of our notes and recovering from the wonderful time we had at quilt market. We met tons of great people, including some new names and faces that we hope to shine a light on here on the Fat Quarterly blog soon. But aside from all of the fabulous people we got to meet and hang out with, we all know what the main draw of quilt market is: THE FABRIC.
We collected tons of information about the newest fabric lines to be hitting your local shops in the coming days, weeks, and months, as well as the insanely talented designers behind them all. Today’s post is the first in a series of previewing some of our favorite fabric lines from Quilt Market.
Today, we’re thrilled to speak with Tula Pink, the creative genius behind such popular fabric lines as Parisville, Neptune, Full Moon Forest, and Flutterby. Tula was in Salt Lake City showing off her latest masterpiece, Prince Charming (and, trust us, it’s even more amazing in person than it looks on screen!) We couldn’t wait to learn more about this vibrant new collection. In addition, we’ve allowed our guests to take over our blog page in the spirit of their new collections. Check out our new Fat Quarterly masthead, all decked out Prince Charming-style!
Let’s hear more from Tula herself …
Before I was a fabric and quilt designer I was, like anyone else, a fabric lover and a weekend quilter. I would squeeze sewing into any free time I had which often involved blowing off plans with friends. My excuses for this behavior became more and more manufactured to the point where I could actually hear my loved ones rolling their eyes at me over the phone. No one was surprised when I turned this hobby into a career except for me.
There wasn’t anything like Fat Quarterly then (and it wasn’t all that long ago). We are a unique and gangly crew of craft misfits who refuse to fit the established standard that created words like “demographic” and “target market”. We are a new breed. We create our own communities without regard for geography and set our own aesthetic standards that can change in an instant. We rarely recognize that what we are doing is defying an industry and therefore we make no apologies for it. It’s a beautiful thing and I am ecstatic to be a part of it in any small way that I can.
We think that part of the appeal of all of your lines is that each one tells a story. What’s the story behind Prince Charming?
Story telling is a HUGE part of how I design. Every time I sit down to draw there are a million different directions I could go. The only way to focus my thoughts is to try to tell a story. With each piece I have to question whether or not it furthers the narration. Sometimes the narration is literal and other times it’s stylistic. Prince Charming is about fantasy. It’s about the fairytale we grow up with when rain was still fun instead of the precursor to mud, frogs are cool because they jump and snails are just weird but kind of awesome. It’s the embodiment of discovery, mystery and optimism. Prince Charming is by no means a children’s collection, I consider it an elegant interpretation of a child like spirit which is something that I strive for every day of my life. Occasionally I achieve it but sometimes I do have to sit down and pay my bills.
Another signature of your collections is your bold and imaginative use of color. What inspired your color selections for Prince Charming?
Color is a funny thing. Everyone lives within their own palette. For me, aqua is a neutral, it’s like denim, you can throw anything in with it and it still looks fresh. With the rest of the colors I was really listening to what my people were asking for, Neptune. Prince Charming is an electric re-interpretation of that infamous collection. I pumped up the volume a bit and reworked the color combinations. The people who follow my blog and Twitter and send me emails are really important to me, without them I couldn’t do what I do so I try to listen as best as I can while still being true to my own evolution as a designer. In this particular case, we both got what we wanted.
OK, so let’s talk about the hidden imagery that so effectively engages people with your designs. How did this unique approach to illustration develop? And do you think it will always play a role in your design style?
The hidden images are a necessity for my process. I get bored reallllllly easily. It’s a lot like staring at the clouds, if you stare long enough you start to see shapes that weren’t there at first glance. I live with these designs for over a year before they actually make it into stores. As I get more familiar with each design I begin to see things that might not have been there to begin with. As an image emerges I go back in and make it more intentional until it becomes a natural part of the design. The hidden critters will always be there, it’s just the way I think. They are my little wink, my secret hand shake, with the people who buy my fabrics.
How do you feel that your design style has evolved from your first fabric collection, Full Moon Forest, to the release of Prince Charming?
My design style has evolved immensely with each collection since Full Moon Forest. Over the course of my career I have become more confident in my own intuition. I’ve grown up. The question I get asked the most is what my favorite collection is, the answer is always the same, the newest one. With every collection I get better at executing my ideas, expressing my point of view and more skillful in the actual technique of drawing and creating repeats. The day my newest collection stops being better than the one that came before it is the day that I will quit designing fabric.
Your blog readers love when you give a glimpse into the early stages of your design process and the origins of your prints. Do you have any sketches or early views into the origin of Prince Charming that you can share as an exclusive for Fat Quarterly readers?
See images. Actually, the main print for Prince Charming was originally drawn for Hushabye but it just didn’t fit so I put it in my “revisit this later” drawer. It took a year or two to really visualize what I needed to build around it to make it feel right. I will never just throw something in a fabric collection. I draw out about 12 to 20 prints for every collection, I only use about 8 of them. Some of it sucks and some of it is really great but just doesn’t fit. Those little gems get set aside so I can do them justice later. The original frog prince didn’t have the personality that this one has, I’m glad I waited.
Not only are you an accomplished fabric designer, but you are a prolific quilt pattern designer as well. One seems more loose and free-form, while the other is structured and mathematical. Do you find that fabric design and pattern design use different parts of your brain? And is it difficult to shift from one to the other?
There were three things I was good at in school. Art, Math and sitting in the principal’s office (I was practically furniture in the disciplinary office). Designing fabric is a lot more mathematical than anyone thinks. Engineering a repeat is very calculated and structured much like designing a quilt pattern. One inspires the other, it’s a very fluid transition. The quilt is the outlet for the fabric. I generally begin thinking about the quilt as soon as the first print in a new collection is completed. If there isn’t anything to make with the fabric then what’s the point?
It’s probably too soon to tell us much about your next collection, but can you give us a hint of what we might expect in ONE WORD?
I’ll give you two words… peppered freckles. Try to figure that one out! Ha! And no, it’s not the name of the collection. It will all make sense someday.
Thanks so much, Tula! So what do you think of Prince Charming? What will you make first from this exciting new collection? Don’t forget to visit our sponsors to find more Prince Charming, and be sure to use your exclusive Fat Quarterly discount codes!