In a previous post, I mentioned that I am starting my textile design business. I met the artist and clothing designer, Sigrid Olsen, at a talk she gave at the Peabody Essex Museum awhile back. I told her about my plans, and she suggested I attend Direction, which is exactly what I did this week. Hubby and I got up super early so I could catch the 6:20 am (!!) Acela out of Back Bay Station. I arrived at Penn Station at around 9:45 or so.
The show was held at the Penn Plaza Pavilion, which is just across 7th Avenue from Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. Upon first glance, the show was smaller than I'd expected. But, I wasn't disappointed. I got my badge and went upstairs to the booths. Each booth housed a design shop that presented its wares to buyers. Basically, the buyers walk around, choose a booth, introduce themselves and have a seat. Design shop reps show them their fabric designs one-by-one. The buyers choose the ones they like and the reps set them aside. I saw some people taking orders, which is the ultimate goal, of course. I do hear that the textile design business is a tough one, but just about everyone was really nice.
I talked with a few people and showed them my portfolio from my U4ia class at MassArt (Massachusetts Collge of Art and Design). I got kudos from everyone on the presentation :) and I got some good critique on my work as well. Of course, they were not there to help me get started, they were there to do busines for themselves, so I do appreciate those who took the time to talk with me.
There were so many beautiful designs. There are truly talented artists out there who are doing this work. I am not an artist, per se, but I do have an eye for design, and I think I can do well. I talked with a few students from FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in NYC. They were part of the "Forward Leap" section of the show, in which students from several schools displayed their work. The FIT students were all in a one-year textile design program. I'd already read about that program and have been wanting to do it since I found out about it! It was interesting to see their work. There are so many people who want to do this work, I've discovered. Still, I'm not deterred just yet.
There were forecasters as well. Forecasters do a lot of research to determine what the "in" thing will be the next season. They forecast style, motifs, themes, and colors, among other things. This must be a big business, because although they were out-numbered by the design houses, they were well represented. There was also a booth on fashion inspiration, Studio C Vintage. Reps from such companies travel the world to gather vintage clothing and fabric and sell them to fashion and design houses. They do insure that their items are in the public domain, so if you do base something on an item, you are safe legally. The idea is to use these pieces as inspiration, not to directly copy them. The rep there was so nice and helpful. She looked at my book, carefully, and really gave me some good points. She is a Cali girl, like myself. We have to stick together! Should I need some vintage inspiration, I will definitely use their service.
I attended a seminar given by Steve Greenberg of Pointcarre. Pointcarre is a textile design software package. He demonstrated what to do with a print once you've purchased it. If you own a print, you can manipulate it in anyway you wish, by removing or adding motifs or changing colors, for example. I used U4ia, as I mentioned, which took some getting used to (and that's putting it mildly). Pointcarre is much more intuitive.
I spoke with Steve after his talk. He told me that U4ia is no longer being distributed. (It looks like Lectra, the U4ia vendor, now markets a product called Kaledo.) Well! I was told a U4ia license costs thousands of dollars, so that doesn't surprise me. The FIT students all used Adobe Illustrator for their work, which is much less expensive, comparatively speaking. Of course, Illustrator can be used for all types of design, so there are limitations when using it for textile design. Pointcarre is specifically for textile design. I got the impression that it is quite expensive as well. Being a programmer myself, I have an idea of what goes into writing such a package, and I can't say I blame them at all.
What is a visit to NYC without a visit to Mood? More on that in the next post!