At AQS, we work with a fun and friendly group of designers who toil at their computers every day designing ads, book covers and book pages, layout and design for magazines, show books, web pages, and much, much more. They work hard, put in overtime, and we appreciate all they do! (You’ll see some of them at most QuiltWeek® events, too!)
Some of our designers are quilters, and some are not. Regardless, they’re each armed with more than an average share of color and design knowledge. Recently, they were asked the question: “What bit of advice would you like to give quilters about color and/or design?” Here are their responses:
Stuck choosing a color scheme? Go to your local home improvement store and head for the paint chip books. They’re loaded with beautiful, well thought out color schemes.
Lacking that spark of inspiration for your next project? Inspiration is all around you, so look for it in places outside of your normal comfort zone. You’ll be amazed what a small shift in perspective can do for your imagination and design process. Forget your normal avenues of inspiration and see what you can come up with.
Look for inspiration in different eras—there is a very different design sense from the 1850s as compared to the 1920s or the 2000s.
Look for inspiration outside—the visual cues you get from a country lane or farm is very different from the ideas you will come up with from the city or industrial setting.
Look for inspiration in the details. The smallest things can become very large in the design process.
Look for inspiration in music. Maybe I should have said “listen” for inspiration? Close your eyes and see where various types of music can lead your mind’s eye.
Need inspiration? Make a flip book or design journal of images or fabrics that inspire you. Keep it with you so you can jot down ideas on the spot. Inspiration can come from unexpected places.
Elaine Wilson shares a reminder that all you need to do is look around:
I use many things for inspiration. Magazines, the color wheel and the best source, Mother Nature. Color is everywhere!
I would suggest using a tool like Adobe’s Kuler to help plan out a color palette if you’re lacking inspiration. I would also recommend that quilters consider the elements of art (line, shape, form, space, texture, value and color) when choosing colors, fabrics, design, etc., to help create a piece that is well rounded from an artistic standpoint.
Decide on one focus color or pattern and choose your color scheme around that. When I’m stuck for inspiration I like to use colourlovers.com. You can choose a single color and it will show you a selection of complementary palettes or choose a pattern and it will show you a breakdown of the colors used to create the design.
Always go for contrast. And be sure to sample different background fabrics. It’s amazing that a slight color change can make your focal fabric “pop.”
Be sure that what you submit, whether photo or actual piece, is as perfect as possible. Every cut, stitch, measurement, seam, appliqué, and color is critical, especially when making pattern instructions that are to be replicated. Think about your audience. They will find every flaw.
Michael Buckingham, designer of most of the AQS Publishing book covers during the last 16 years, has been at AQS long enough to see a LOT of quilts. This hint comes from observing shows throughout the years:
Use brilliant fabric colors and contrast to liven up your quilt. They don’t have to be neon, but colorful enough to stand out in a room full of other quilts. Workmanship may win ribbons, but appearance gets you in the magazine or web article.
Our designers are talented individuals—and our world would be a lot less colorful without them!
What’s YOUR favorite color and/or design tip?