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The on-demand digital printer Spoonflower asked me to participate in their "Celebrity Smackdown" design competition. The theme we were given was The Elements and we were told to interpret as we liked. You can see the other entries and the winning fabric by clicking this link.
Above is the design I came up with and here's the explanation:
My design was inspired by the ancient I Ching, specifically reading number 53: Wind over Mountain. (The top leaves/petals have an image of grasses being blown in the wind. The lower leaves/petals contain photos of mountains.) The background of my design is the ancient I Ching coin (round coin with square hole in the center).
53: Wind over Mountain - Chien/Development - Those who persevere make continuous progress.
I really wanted to take the opportunity to do a design that could not be printed using rotary technology (which is how I print my stock fabrics). Rotary screens could never get the photographic effect that you can achieve with digital. I figured if I was going to do a design specifically for digital printing it should use those advantages.... unlimited colors with no per color screen charges - heaven!
I have done some digital printing in the past for special projects like a photo shoot for Modern Bride magazine or special pillows for an interior design project, but I had never printed with Spoonflower. I learned a few things in the process. Spoonflower is definitely geared towards automation. Their business model certainly seems to hing on this. See, I did the design, in repeat, uploaded it only to find out my esoteric 3" drop was not an option. WHA? I was shocked to learn that digital printing can be less accommodating than rotary. I had never in my 13 years of designing textiles been told that my drop had to be a particular size. So, of course, being me I had to ask why? It comes down to automation. To give everyone the right to make any drop would require different scripts to be written. Spoonflower only has automated 1/2 drops along with a few other more straight forward options. So, if you want to print with them you must get with their program. Wish I had realized this before I did the repeat - sigh - I did the repeat over. From their business model it makes complete sense. From a designer's perspective, I found it annoying.
I told Spoonflower I would ONLY participate if I could specify that my print only be printed on organic fabrics. I made the commitment to organic fabrics in January of 2005 and am not about to end that commitment for this competition. They agreed to my "terms" but are so far unable to limit what selection of base fabrics someone can choose. So, my design is not available for purchase at this time. They tell me they are working on it. This is another example of the down side of automation. On the plus side their printing is very reasonably priced and they seemed to have created a wonderful community of designers. If I were a new designer just the thrill of seeing my design on fabric would have me sucked in. Their weekly (open to all) contests are also a great way to get your designs seen and your name out there. Congrats to Samarra Khaja (representing the Spoonflower home team) for her takin' the win.
What would I have gotten if I had won? Well, the prize was that 20% of the sales of the fabric of any of the contestants would go to the charity of the winner's choice. Drat! That would have been fun to pick. Oh well... you win some, you lose some.
To quote the I Ching this design is based on again: " Those who persevere make continuous progress." Cheers to that.
Founder of Harmony Art organic design.