A Print is Born - the designer's secrets behind creating a collection
Did you ever wonder how something like this:
Actually becomes this:
(Or did your kid ask and you had no idea?)
Well listen up Buttercup, because today I’m letting you in on the secrets!
Many brands buy their patterns from prints watch companies, who will often licence them out to more than one brand. While this is a great option (yay to keeping print designers in jobs!) I prefer to create all of our very own prints in-house, meaning they are 100% exclusive to us and you will never find them anywhere else. Our whole ethos is about going out and seeing the world, and caring for it. The more you learn the more you’ll want to look after it. Our inspiration comes from real life, and isn’t limited to boys or girls, because prints and colour don’t have gender.
Ok so where do we even start?
Each collection starts with a little spark of inspiration. For this collection that was the sense of wonder and intrigue that overtook my girls as we explored the Natural History Museum in London. They were mesmerized by the big imposing cases that are a just a little bit spooky… That lead to the discovery of Victorian Cabinets of Curiosity (and later inspired them to go and ‘excover’ things in our back garden)
Armed with photos from the museum, we research further online, in books, in magazines, finding images that might be useful and create a moodboard to round out the concept.
(At this point, it’s handy to test it on a four-year-old. If the "oooohhh" count is high, you’re on to a winner)
There's more to a colour palette than you might think
Around this time, I’ll develop a colour palette. This is a fun part, but quite a lot of thought needs to go into it.
First, the colour needs to work with the motifs. Then, it’s super important to us that our prints are gender neutral and that includes the colours. Ideally we want them to be seasonally appropriate for long time, so that’ll come into the choice too.
Making the motifs
Nowadays, many if not most prints you see will have been drawn on an iPad but there's something about actual pencil and paint, especially with inspiration like this (and I’m pretty old school).
These drawings and paintings are hand drawn and painted then scanned into computer and imported into Photoshop where the repeat pattern layouts are made and the colours refined. Not gonna lie, trying to choose between colour options can be VERY fun and VERY distracting...
Once I’m happy with the digital pattern, i set up the file for the supply partner with any info they need. They print digitally, with a certified GOTS approved system so I have a full range of colours to work with (it’s awesome). Digital printing allows for a really faithful reproduction of my illustrations. Traditional rotary or screen printing involves the use of inks on screens or etched rollers that press ink into fabric. With digital printing, we avoid the excess inks and water needed to clean them off. Also, we can print however much we want, avoiding waste, and can easily make tiny adjustments in scale which are much more wasteful with screen printing.
Our supply partner prints a sample called a strike off and sends to us. We check that over for colour, scale and print quality, drape off the fabric and approve or reject it.
As soon as we give the go-ahead, our supplier prints out the yardage and BOOM! there you have it!
Did you know the process before? Let me know in comments!