Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hi! My name is Kate Spain...

We had the great privilege of meeting one of Moda's newest designers at Market in October. Her name is Kate Spain, and she is just one of the nicest people on the face of the earth. Her first line for Moda is called Verna, and this wonderful dose of spring love hits stores in February 2010. But before then, we thought it'd be nice to formally introduce her to our Jolly Jabber readers, like any good debutante, so here she is...a little meet 'n greet post for ya :)

1) So give us a little background info!

I was born in New York City and now live in Fairfield, Connecticut. When I was little, I carried a sketchbook around like some kids carry their favorite stuffed animal or blanket. Growing up, instead of having Atari, we had a potter's wheel (see picture -- I was 9 years old), instead of watching television, we would draw or get the drift! I actually still make pottery today (see pictures)! No matter what the medium, I've always found joy in the creative process, which ultimately landed me in art school.

I graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design. While I was there, I also studied drawing, photography, printmaking, glassblowing and art history, which have all contributed significantly to the development of what I like to call my "visual voice".

After college, I created handmade decorative and functional wares in an artist's cooperative in Newport, RI. After that I moved to NYC, where I was a children's book designer at Simon & Schuster Publishing. I worked primarily with Nickelodeon to develop media tie-in books for their hit shows. From there, I segued from books to children's accessories, designing and developing licensed-character merchandise for several leading accessories companies in NYC. For many years, I worked on Hello Kitty accessories that were sold at Target, Limited Too, and other national retailers.

Finally in 2008, I decided to take a leap and start my own art licensing business. I put together a portfolio of my own artwork and showed it in a booth at Surtex (surface design and textiles trade show) in New York City. I've shown there for 2 years now and in that time have signed licensing contracts with over 10 companies in product categories ranging from paper tableware, ceramics, and scrapbooking, to kitchen textiles, gift wrap, and stationery. And of course...fabric!

2) How did you come to design fabric for the oh-so-prestigious Moda?

Around Christmas last year, one of my family members, Nancy, was visiting from Indiana. I told her a bit about my new design venture and shared some of my artwork with her. Nancy happens to be an avid quilter and she thought my art would be great on fabric -- she suggested I send some art samples to Moda. So I did! After a month of pacing and fingernail-biting, I learned the great news that Moda decided they'd like to work with me. I remember the actual day, February 18, 2009 (does that give you any idea of how excited I was/am?).

3) So what is the inspiration and story behind Verna? How do you envision it being used?

Verna is a celebration of spring! I love to garden, and when the cheery crocuses, tulips and daffodils start to bloom, it's a sure sign of spring's arrival. I always feel so hopeful, inspired and optimistic at this time of year and wanted to try to capture some of those sentiments in Verna through the use of color and lively patterns. The color palette has April shower blues, bright sprigs of green, blooms of pinks, yellow and apricot, and earthy browns. The Vernal Equinox happens at that time of year, so I shortened "Vernal" to "Verna" and liked the sound of it. One of the patterns in the collection is called "Equinox" too! Then, after poking around a bit more about the word "Verna" I found that it's of Latin origin and means "spring green" so it really fit perfectly.

Aside from the adorable quilt kit being offered on FQS, I think you could make some really cute girls' dresses, colorful quilted handbags/totes/weekender duffels...or..jeez..any craft project you can think of!

4) What is your fabric design process?

I usually begin with an idea, theme or concept about something I'm inspired by -- though sometimes it may be a color palette that I really love and then the theme builds around that. Either way, it's really important for me to have a connection that I'm excited to explore. Once I have a starting point, I do pencil sketches to get the wheels spinning, then make black line drawings from the sketches and scan them into my computer to work with digitally. The important thing to me when I work digitally is that my art maintains the spontaneity and line quality of something that was hand-drawn. I really think this helps to give my art its personality.

5) And finally – what are you doing right now?

Where to begin! My holiday 2010 fabric line for Moda, which is called "12 Days of Christmas", is in production.

In other areas, several new lines of paper tableware will be at Target in the upcoming months. I've also been working on a presentation for Target on a number of products for holiday 2011. In spring 2010, The Gift Wrap Co. will be coming out with bags, gift wrap and novelty items that feature my "Cherry Blossoms" pattern. And I'm honored to have two specially designed lines of tableware that will be offered at Crate & Barrel in early Spring 2010. Looking forward to an exciting and colorful year ahead!

Kate Spain

Kate's blog


Lola....L..O..L..A....lo--oh--luh! said...

Yeah! Verna is one of my favorite lines of fabric ever!

Sherri said...

So fun to I know where the name Verna comes from...and yay for a Christmas line too!

PamKittyMorning said...

I really enjoyed reading all about your background! Super interesting and believe me, I'm sure I'm owning a lot of your work with Hello Kitty! I'm excited about your new fabric and will be looking forward to seeing all your work in its different venues!

rachel griffith said...

oh kate...
you already know my feelings about verna.

you. rock. my. socks. off.

Jewel said...

I love Verna. I bought the Sampler from Moda and your line is one of my faves... but I have to admit I am a moda addict. :) Thanks for the lovely designs.

Bonnie- Cotton Way said...

Kate, I love your designs, Verna is wonderful. We haven't met, but hopefully at spring market. Moda is the best!

lissa said...

Not only can she design, but she is the nicest persoon ever.

jaybird said...

thanks for sharing... we are all very lucky that you joined the fabric world... and i can't wait to see what you come up with next!

Cara said...

I love hearing stories of how the fabric comes about, and how much more integrated the craft world is becoming.

kate spain said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. I'm really grateful (and lucky!) to be working with Moda. The fun part for me is to see what people are making with's inspiring and humbling in ways I didn't expect. SO many talented people in the fabric world. Thanks for making me feel so welcome.

Bonnie-i really look forward to meeting you and Camille. i love your lines!

PunkiePie said...

Super background! Can't wait for Verna to hit the shelves next year. I'm planning on making a lap quilt for my daughter with it. I live in CT too but on the opposite side. :)

Mandy said...

Hey I’ve been following your blog for a while now!!! I think that this might be something you would be interested in. Maybe you’d like to participate or just do a little post about it! I’d love to see it be a great book ☺ (P.S. I’m not getting anything for passing the message along!)
Mandy from
All the info is taken from…
They posted on their blog:
I'm very pleased to organize the first-ever Quilter's Cookbook with recipes from quilters around the world. Everyone is welcome to submit a recipe, a photo of their favourite quilt and a story for inclusion in the Cookbook. The submission deadline is November 28, 2009.
The Quilter's Cookbook will be available for sale as a downloadable PDF file in early December 2009. The price will be determined based on the number of recipes submitted and the number of advertising sponsors.
The Cookbook is being created as a fundraising effort to help off-set some of the costs associated with running the Quilting Gallery site and to fund new community-based features planned for 2010. Please help support the community!
The theme for this Cookbook is "Quick and easy recipes, so we can get back to quilting!".

special k said...

Hi Kate!
Like so many who sew, I've had to resort to Ebay for my fabric needs ever since they removed the fabric department from our local Walmart. Recently, while searching for Christmas fabric, I noticed that every design I loved was by Kate Spain,so I had to find your blog and thank you! You are very talented and your style is unique! Please continue to thrill us with your wonderful designs...I can't get enough!
Karen, Lewisburg, Tennessee