Sunday, September 29, 2013

An Aha Moment in Skagway, Alaska

At precisely 10:47 AM on a misty gray morning in Skagway, Alaska, I had an enormous
 Aha! Moment - triggered by this fabric pattern:

I'm not 100 percent sure who the artist is that drew this happy group, but the palette and line work makes me think it is Helen Dardik -I apologize if it isn't, and would love to hear from anyone out there who does know. 

Now, this is a little complex, so bear with me here.

Skagway is nestled in a cove at the end of the Lynn Canal, off Chilkoot Inlet, with towering emerald green mountains draped around it - the gate keepers to the Klondike Gold Fields.   A pretty town, it is frothing with gorgeous blooms that drink in the cool, moist air.

We arrived by water, like most visitors do, and were given the day to explore. 
As we strolled the downtown area, I spied a quilt shop sign down a side street.
I'm not a quilter, but felt compelled to turn down the street to investigate.  After all, 
it takes art to make quilting fabric, and I was missing that kind of thing.  

Never mind that we were seeing jaw dropping art sliding past our ship every minute of every hour, I was craving the human-rendered connection to those miraculous vistas; patterns, color charts, and Photoshop in use by humans to capture the power of nature.

The magic stuff, you know?

Struggling through the crowds on the boardwalk that resulted from about 7,000 people being poured out of the cruise ships in the harbor, I made my way to the little doorway.

It looked like a good portion of those people were packed into this one tiny shop, the 

Turning sideways, I eased into the foyer and wriggled my way over to the left wall, where cut pieces were neatly folded into bundles with belly bands, stacked from floor to ceiling.  
Photo by The Rushin Tailor's Quilt Shop in Skagway, Alaska
  Something from Week 1 of  Lilla Rogers' Make Art That Sells  class tugged at my brain.

As I hung there in a space of my own, zooming up and down the corridors of my mind, chasing that tantalizing clue, a little girl eased up beside me and stroked the fabric bundles in the basket thoughtfully.  She already had a piece held carefully in her hand, and she spoke to her father, who was squeezed in behind her.  "I like this one, too...".  I looked around me and saw the same thing going on all over the shop.  Men, women, and children were carefully studying and comparing the thousands of bundles packed into every available nook and cranny, and their faces held a quiet pleasure I had seen nowhere else on this trip.  

I felt like I had walked into a chapel. 

I picked up the bundle of Llama fabric and suddenly, the Lilla Lesson came into sharp focus, running like Surround Sound in my head.  Every single item in the shop was the result of someone's artwork.   An Art Director had bought or licensed the art to use on fabric.  This fabric.  Suddenly, I wasn't just looking at a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes anymore, 
I was DISSECTING the designs, automatically!

See?  Here is one of the main characters from that fabric - a Placement Graphic:

Notice the eye contact, and the sweet, open face that says, "I like myself, and I like you. "

It is part of this fabric design, but it could also be pulled out and used by itself on a child's back pack, wall decal, pencil case, etc.

See these mountains?  See how they overlap and create a whole new motif to look at?  That little overlap area could readily be pulled out and made into a whole new design for a coordinating fabric, or a stand-alone design.

And this little guy could be lifted right out and centered on a child's T shirt - throw on a pair of purple pants, and you have a cutie-patootie outfit!

See what I mean?  Dissected. So many motifs in that one pattern, in yummy colors, that could be pulled out and used in clothing, children's tableware, bedding, wall art and decals.  That is what Lilla kept pounding into our lessons - give the Art Director who is looking at your work some Bang For their Buck.  Give them a lot in every design. 

I wasn't able to see the promise in these individual icons, until my Aha Moment - during the six week course, submissions by my classmates looked like random collections of artfully drawn and colored shapes, pasted onto the requisite 8 x 10 file.  I couldn't see the "X Factor" in many of the ones she selected to review, until 10:47 AM, Skagway time.  I got it!  

Good.  This isn't going to be easy, so I'm off to practice.  
A lot.

Thank you for visiting with me!


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