Behind the Seams: How to Make a Prints Charming

we asked our in-house print master,
David, to walk us through how he makes
his perfectly pretty patterns
A print is born: The prints usually start out as actual drawings or paintings that vary in size from large canvases to tiny little laser-cut wood panels. We turn them into digital files, send them off and they return to us in the form of lovely fabric. We also design plenty of plaids and stripes, which are done completely on the computer, but the art-based prints are really intricate and fun.

Hands on: I always prefer working on physical objects, like paintings. I love bumping around in my studio, not having exact ideas as to how things will look, what mediums I’ll use, etc. The paint itself has a randomness that you can’t get on a computer, but there are some obvious advantages to working digitally; for example, it is way easier to create a repeated image on a computer than it is to paint it into an actual piece of artwork. And, of course, it’s always nice to have an undo button.
Keeping it simple: The more complex I make things, the more difficult they are to turn into a workable, printable pattern. The director of the textile design department is the best at doing the more complex digital side of this. There have certainly been times when I’m in my studio working and thinking to myself, “Man, he is going to hate me when I bring these paintings in.” It can be a pain but sometimes it’s the price you have to pay to make a great print!
An artist’s life: My background is as a painter and a fine artist, so I grew up painting a lot of vegetation and landscapes. When I paint for J.Crew, I’m usually inspired by the vintage fabrics they source, which are pretty amazing. I talk a lot with the designers, so I’m often inspired by what they are looking at as well, and then make new artwork based on those things. Honestly, inspiration is everywhere—I just have to keep my eyes open for it.

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    we asked our in-house print master, David, to walk us through how he makes his perfectly pretty patterns A print is...
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