+ I am interested in having my own fabric line. What advice can you give me on how to get started?

It’s important to note that everyone has a different story on how they got started, and there are many different ways to go about it. From my experience, I would recommend researching the fabric & quilting market and compile a list of fabric companies. Then go to their websites to see what type of artwork they typically carry. If you find that your style is a good fit and still offers them something different, then keep them on your list. Go to their website’s contact page and e-mail or call them to find out what their artwork submission guidelines are and when they review collections.

Begin working on a portfolio of artwork and send it in to them. Be patient. If they come back to you and turn you down, submit your work to the next company on your list. You can always ask them for feedback, and if there is another company they think your work would be a good fit for. Be patient, persistent, and willing to learn and grow from situations and opportunities! It can only help you become a better artist.

You can also read my thoughts in Moyo Magazine, Issue 3 for more information.

+ Do you have any advice on finding your artistic style?

I can share with you a little about my journey to discovering my style in the hopes that it will help. I've been drawing my whole life, but commercially for the past 15 years. When I look back at my work thoughout those years, I can see threads of my style interwoven into my work. The way I see the world, the colors I am drawn to, the subject matter that resonates with me – is all there and it's the cumulation of these things that defines my work.

I must also share that although it comes naturally, it did take me some time to really hone in on it and to take the time to develop it into a stronger look. For example, since I started my own business, I've had the opportunity to spend the past 5 years drawing only in that style, which has really allowed it to become more and more tightly defined.

My recommendation would be to keep at it! There are no short cuts to just putting your time in and practicing. It's also important to really spend time figuring out what is important to you in terms of subject matter and color as well. I think the absolutely wrong way to do it is to find an artist you like or admire, pine to be like them, and then "copy" them in some way. If you want to draw a rose, for example, pull photos of roses and work from there. Don't look at how every other artist is drawing a rose and then copy them. Yes, we are all inspired by each other in this world, but when you have your own voice, inspiration will inspire your work, not dictate it. Also, when you take the time to solve your own artistic problems, your style will then be truly coming from you.

+ Why did you leave an amazing career and what seems like everyone’s dream jobs?

Ever since college, I wanted to work for myself. I didn’t know how to actually be successful at that, or what I would do exactly, but I always knew at some point that was the end goal.

12 years into corporate life, I was happily (and stressfully) climbing the corporate ladder. Making a difference at the company, adding value, training and managing creatives, but when I got to the “top” I didn’t enjoy the view as much as I thought I would. You see, I enjoyed the climb. I enjoyed pushing myself and growing and making a difference, but didn’t enjoy the politics and how much of your energy goes into navigating the “game” everyone’s playing and dealing with a lot of ego that comes with being in the fashion industry. Realizing that there wasn't much more that I could learn and grow into, in areas I enjoy, I decided it was finally the right time to devote my energies to create what I love, and using my strengths and talents, to put more positivity and beauty into the world.

+ What did working in-house for companies teach you? Was the experience valuable?

I always encourage artists that if they want to work for themselves either by running their own shop, freelance or licensing business, that they will be at a much better starting place if they have some corporate experience under their belt.

Working in-house taught me so many things - professionalism, how to correspond with companies in other countries, how to meet deadlines and structure my days, how to work with a team, and responsibility. I also learned how to make commercially viable artwork by presenting my work to buyers and getting direct feedback, hearing what is selling and what is not, and why. I learned trend forecasting and had to give multiple presentations to different teams of people, which really helped my presentation & communication skills. At one point part of my job was training artists on software, so I learned how to make curriculum, how to train people with different learning styles and help them troubleshoot tricky repeats by sharing my knowledge of the software. Not to mention job specific skills like drawing every day, getting great at repeats, working with a variety of color palettes, taking art direction, understanding the production side and reviewing strike-offs. You get the idea.

When you work for a company you are exposed to a lot of different experiences and people that allow you to grow so quickly vs. when you only have the experience of working for yourself. I definitely recommend it, but also know that there are many artists out there who have never worked in-house and are very successful. It all depends on where you are at and where you want to be, how you want to grow, what you want to learn, etc.