Above the Fold: Jessica Stuart-Crump, Textile & Surface Designer
In Above the Fold, we spotlight individual members of Coroflot's vibrant creative community. The idea is to take you behind the scenes and inside the minds of talented Coroflot members who we think are doing exceptional work. Coroflot was created by designers, for designers, and Above the Fold is the place where we can talk to creatives about work that we not only love, but think you'll love too!
In our daily lives we are surrounded by patterns. They cover everything from bedsheets and socks to toilet paper and carpets. Given the omnipresence of patterns, most of us probably forget that all of them are designed by someone, and even though many patterns don't make a significant impression on us, there are some that command our attention. Such is the case with the work of Vancouver, BC-based Textile and Surface Designer Jessica Stuart-Crump. Using a variety of media such as ink, watercolors, pastels, photographs and digital manipulations, Jessica creates beautiful and often intricate patterns for all different kinds of surfaces with a focus on apparel, sportswear, and housewares. Her use of so many different mediums makes her work eye-catching and truly unique. What's especially interesting is that Jessica doesn't work for some huge apparel company, but rather she steers her own ship as a freelancer. For all of these reasons and others, we decided to talk to Jessica about her creativity, professional work, and more!
Was there a specific moment in life where you realized you wanted to pursue a creative path?
I don't think there was ever a specific moment. I have always been drawing, painting, doodling, and crafting with my hands. I pursued creative outlets at every opportunity through life and I've never really stopped. Most of my interests link back to the creative process in some form so I couldn't imagine not having a focus in this area.
Who are your design heroes?
I am continually inspired by creatives from many different fields, especially architecture, illustration, and product design. I love coming across pieces that make me stop and think 'wow, that is beautiful and functional'. I am also encouraged by those working in sustainable design and the repurposing of products, and people doing good work for the often unstable world around us. They are really my everyday heroes.
Can you share some details about your most recent project?
Working with product and apparel design timelines, we are often designing product lines two years out from being on shelves, so I can only share details about some of the artwork that has just been released. In the past few years, I have been working with a couple of local yoga apparel companies, Karma athletics and Inner Fire, and I am pretty excited about both of their Fall/Winter 2016 lines for which I developed their main apparel prints. These two companies have quite different aesthetics and clientele, so it was an interesting challenge creating artwork for similar products with such different targets.
Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
Last year I got to create my largest repeating pattern ever! I can't talk about the specific products the artwork will be going on quite yet, but they will be coming out this spring as part of Mountain Equipment Co-op's new range of goods. Because of the physical scale of the actual products, we wanted to create artwork that would not look like a repeating pattern, and more like every piece is its own work of art. The final design was all hand-painted and measures approximately three feet by nine feet. That is super huge in terms of print and pattern size.
Walk us through some of your process for creating.
I don't have a strict regimen for my process, but everything generally starts with notes and sketches. I often have 3-4 sketchbooks going at once with different projects in each. From sketches, I start mapping out the logistics of creating the desired artwork, which is often based in mixed media with everything from watercolor and ink drawings, to photo manipulation and digital rendering. Often I'll draw a selection of art, scan it in and start blending with other layers of media in Photoshop only to realize it's not going where I would like, so I go back to the drawing board and figure out a different approach. I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to file setup, so planning out the 'functionality' of the art and it's printing process is a very important step to making the final art the best it can be for the desired surface.
What tools (physical or digital) do you find yourself using repeatedly?
Good paper and drawing pens (my Sakura pen addiction is a tad out of control), watercolor paints, India ink, Photoshop, and Illustrator. I also use Pinterest a fair bit to make mood boards for almost every project (personal or professional).
Do you have a ritual for getting in design mode (music you listen to, certain exercise, food you eat) aka a productivity tip?
A clean working environment helps me keep my mind focused. An organized desk and workspace, and good scents in my aromatherapy diffuser go a long way. If I have a big deadline looming I'll try to create a playlist of songs beforehand so I don't get distracted by music I need to keep skipping.
Sometimes silence is best for focus, and if you find yourself in a noisy environment, popping some white noise in your earbuds is another personal favorite. There are quite a lot of white noise apps available now but if you need to stream it off your computer, SimplyNoise.com has some good options.
Outside of your professional life, do you have any other creative outlets or hobbies?
Is travel considered a hobby? If so, it's probably the top of my list. I am always in some stage of planning my next adventure. For the past year, I have been taking my love of travel and design to the next level as a trip designer for ACE Camps Travel, I develop fun creative trips with talented and well-known artisans, who lead workshops at cool spots all around the world.
I am also very interested in housewares, especially woven goods, and so I am just starting to learn all about weaving and have signed up for an immersive class this spring with the uber talented Lucy Poskitt.
If you're stuck on a desert island and can only bring three (design) tools, what are they?
India ink, paintbrush, good paper (your S.O.S sign would be more visible than with pencils).
Do you have any tips for getting the most out of your Coroflot portfolio?
I think the key is to be an active member, post projects, comment on the work of others etc. The more frequently you post the more likely your profile will be found by potential clients/employers. Keep in mind though, quality over quantity counts. Share the strongest images of your work and edit out the filler, tell a story with your work. Most of all, keep it fun, engaging, and focus on sharing projects with the type of work you would like to keep practicing.