Thursday, January 17, 2008

Barb Tourtillotte with "Hoppy Spring"

Barb Tourtillotte has worked with Clothworks to produce a whimsical new line called Hoppy Spring which is full of fun, fluffy animals in light, airy pastels. Today she gives us a deep look into her work and process.

A Bit about Barb
I have been so blessed to work with an amazing group of companies including Clothworks! I currently license my artwork to over 50 manufacturers, designing and illustrating products from dinneware and kitchen textiles to scrapbooking and greeting cards. I would call my look sophisticated whimsy, with a smidgen of humor and endearing, joyful characters.

Hoppy Spring
Hoppy Spring was a follow-up collection to Dipped Chicks. This collection incorporates a few of the dipped chicks. I used a different color palette this time around with soft violets, blues and greens but still kept a touch of the vibrant yellows, pinks and oranges from Dipped Chicks. My inspiration for the dipped chick images was seeing colored chicks at a petting zoo one year and wondering how they did that. Did they paint the little chicks or dip them like eggs? It was quite a comical visual, hence the multicolored dipped chicks. I do believe Hoppy Spring is the 9th collection for Clothworks. I am currently working on collection number 12 which will be out around a year from now.

Her Inspiration and Process
Fabric line development is getting easier as I continue to design and better understand the quilter's need for scale, color contrast, border size variances, etc. The most challenging aspect of designing fabric is keeping the colors under a maximum of 21 colors. I work with watercolor and there are so many shades of each color. The fabric manufacturer that Clothworks uses is amazing on how they capture the essence of watercolor with a limited amount of screens.

I think most designers begin their collections with their main themed piece. I'm not sure why, but I nearly always work on the repeat stripe first. Perhaps it is because it incorporates not only the theme piece but the coordinates as well pulling the entire collection together. As far as inspiration, it can come from anywhere. Laying awake at night, seeing something on a walk, sketching on a long flight.

From there, I move to tighter sketches using lots and lots of tracing paper. I continue to trace over each sketch until I reach something that I am pleased with. I then transfer it to watercolor paper and begin the painting process. In most cases, I will paint up each image separately (rather than all in one scene), and then scan and layer them in Photoshop to create the final image. I then come up with coordinating prints, developing them the same as I would the theme or repeat stripe piece with sketching, painting and scanning. A typical collection will run around 21 prints. From development to delivered product, it takes about a year.

The difference in creating quilting fabric as compared to other products it has its
particular template incorporating large, medium, and small prints in different color ways. When working with say, a dinnerware collection, I really only developing a theme piece and perhaps one or two other coordinates. So, fabric is quite a bit more labor and time intensive than with other products.

As for Quilting
I have several quilts that I made when my children were young, and I so cherish each one and the history behind them. If my house were to catch fire, after kids, husband and dog were out, the quilts would be what I would grab! My hope is that my collections would result in much loved quilts filled with memories.

Barb Tourtillotte


PamKittyMorning said...

Thanks for sharing your process with us..its very interesting to hear how you design the fabric! The line is so darn cute!

Kaye said...

Wonderful inspiration

SuzyQ said...

WOW! It was really interesting to read about the design process. I never would have guessed it would take a whole year to complete one collection!