I typically design with rich, saturated colors. I like bright and deep colors that really pop, but there are some design elements that seem to lend themselves to a more neutral color palette – and honestly, I think most people shy away from lots of color in their homes. As an artist, I am drawn to bold colors.
Here are some examples of my rich color schemes:
My next experiment is to take a few of my new collections into a more neutral range. I’m going to work some of my floral designs into a very subtle color palette and just add pops of muted tones to get a few collections that can live in any home and can go with any basic pair of black, navy, or khaki pants – because as I look around my own house I realize that while I have rooms that have a strong color presence (like the red in my kitchen and rich earth tones in my living room), other areas of my home are more neutral (bedroom and bath). But there are more reasons for this experimentation.
Of course, thinking about where your prints will “live” – who your customer is, where they will use your prints and how – is just good business. But as an artist, finding new ways to create – and adding some limits to that process – can force you out of your comfort zone and help you discover new methods, subjects, and techniques.
Take this collection as an example. This past summer I became a member of the Textile Design Lab. As part of a wonderful course I took there, I was inspired by Japanese Shibori techniques and created a whole collection in subtle indigo and cream colors. I love the look of these prints and they go from casual to elegant depending on the environment they are used in. But limiting my color palette to just three colors (indigo, white, and a really subtle rust), and using one specific type of textile forced me to really experiment with my design motifs and methods. Having the limited colors made me think more about texture and subtle color shifts. I have to admit, creating this collection forced me into new territory and it was so much fun to stretch myself to come up with interesting designs that didn’t rely so much on color – that’s not saying that the color isn’t rich or beautiful – it’s just different from my usual style.
I have been designing for a long time now, but learning new things only improves my work. Not only do I grow as an artist, but I grow as a business – appealing to new customers because of the variety of work I produce through these experiments. From a strictly business standpoint, I can’t say that subtle neutral shades sell better than bold colors. For instance, here are my two top selling shower curtains from a few years ago:
I don’t think you could get more different in terms of color! It’s just a matter of what the customer is looking for. Since I still consider myself in the experimental stage of my career (because designing is a second career for me) so I tend to design in many different styles – mainly because I am inspired by so many things. Stretching myself in terms of subject matter, technique, and color is part of my journey – one which gets me bounding out of bed every morning.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting about my experiments with color. I’ll start with how I pick color, how I use various techniques to build color and texture, and how my floral and mismatched prints style translates into this new color palette. I hope you’ll keep checking in with me.