Kathy Loomis, over at Art With A Needle, wrote thoughtfully yesterday about designer fabric lines. Head over there and give it a read.
It seems that a brouhaha developed over a designer’s fabric being used in a book, and the designer was not specifically credited. Not having read the actual brouhaha, I can’t comment on its validity or resolution. But I can say that I agree with Kathy that this type of stuff is problematic.
I’ve designed patterns or made quilts where the majority of the fabric came from a designer’s line. Full disclosure here, I work part time in a couple of delightful quilt shops and have access to fabric at a discount, and at a deeper one if I make something out of the newest stuff so that it gets promoted. A lot of these samples come out great, and few of them have crept onto my pattern covers because the fabric looked good enough for me to show off my design.
All of that said, it’s not always my fave way to go for a bunch of reasons, the first being pure aesthetics. Yes, the line looks good together. No kidding – it was designed to look good together – and this is an appropriate and excellent place for a less confident sewist to get a predictably good result from her precious $$. However, my vision is usually a bead or two left of center. While a line is a great anchor, tweaking it to my sensibility means I begin that thrilling tango of pushing and pulling things in and out of the pile until my guts calm and my soul soars – the signs that I have the color in balance FOR ME. Also, like many fabric artists, I have a stash that reaches back decades. I have bits in said stash that no longer have selvedge identification. And while I once might have bought it thinking “what a lovely design by Big Name of 1993,” I am now in possession of a menopausal memory in all its holey glory. What available ram space I have in my head (the immediate recall space, not the “you know you can look this up” space) is full of more important things like where I left my keys and whether or not I called my folks this week.
I get that designers put a TON of work into making our latest fabric crush. I get that having your name on the selvedge is an important credit – not to mention it must be one heck of a rush to see it there. But isn’t the fact that we are buying it a huge acknowledgement also? Does not say as more than a few words in the unread appendix of a book? And in the internet age, finding out the name of a line/designer and finding the last piece of that one luscious print available on-line has never been easier.
I took a class from a wonderful sculptor some years back, and she told us about helping another artist with the restoration of an angel figure that was in a cemetery. A fellow student asked if she was getting paid and if she would put her name on the arm she remade. Her reply was “Make the art. Just make the art. If it’s good, it will speak more than your signature.”
Just make the art.