Wednesday 8 June 2011

YOU interview Melody Miller - Yay!

Ok People - the time has come to reveal the wonderful Qs set by you, my loyal stalkers, and the even more wonderful As from the lovely Melody.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer so brilliantly, Melody :)
Pictures from Melody’s web album

Do you find being a fabric designer to be more or less restrictive than being a painter?
Question from WordyGirl

Hmmm. I can say I enjoy being a fabric designer more than I enjoyed being a painter. I love the act of painting, but I never found a sense of community as a painter, or a place where I belonged. It was a pretty isolating endeavor.

Here's a funny story: one day, a good friend took me and a car full of my paintings to a well-known gallery here in Atlanta. He was acquaintances with the curator and hoped that she would give us a little of her time. Well, she was quite busy, so she sent her assistant out to speak with us.

This young woman (who was probably in her mid-20's, as was I) was SO snooty and condescending that it was almost funny to speak to her. She asked where I lived, and before I could finish telling her, she dismissed my location as irrelevant. She lived in town, she informed us. 

Once she had thoroughly asserted her superiority, she condescended to walk outside with us and look at my paintings. As we were stepping onto the sidewalk, the pointy heel of her designer shoe got stuck in a crack in the pavement. She tried to pull it out and continue walking, but it wouldn't budge. She ended up having to remove her foot from the shoe and pry it out of the sidewalk with both hands.
It was a moment I enjoyed very much:)

Are there any colors you really DON'T like/want to use? Question from Laurel

I don't think so! I try to keep an open mind about color, because a specific color that I don't prefer might be the perfect compliment to a color I love. Also, color is so emotional and evocative of a time and place, that I like to play with it in groups rather than individually. If a color contributes well to the group, I will love it like my own child. If it is a favorite but doesn't play well with others, I will give it the boot.


You put such unusual but lovely colours together. Do you use tools like colour wheels and such to get your matches or do you work from intuition?
Question from Janet

I mostly play with color in Photoshop, so I just adjust my colors as I work to make them relate together as groups. Once I have a group I like, I'll try to apply it to a variety of designs.

If I have 4 colors that work beautifully in one design, I'll often find that I can do nothing with them in another design. So, I will find a few new colors that work well and add them to my palette. This goes on and on and on... I tend to feel my way around until I have colors I'm happy with. 

Often, I'll come back a few days later, feel shocked and alarmed at my ghastly choices, and start the whole business over again:)

What medium do you use to start your idea for a design? Pencil, paint, computer, etc...? Question from Flo

My best talent is drawing, which I have always done in the traditional way on paper.

However, with a Wacom tablet, I can draw in Photoshop the same way that I can draw on paper, but make quicker edits. So that's how I've been working the past several years… 

I draw directly into Photoshop (or occasionally Illustrator) and save my drawings on my computer.

My question would be: what do you do with ideas that don't get produced into fabric lines? Do you forget them, shelve them for another time, rework them for future projects? Question from Xerxia

I am like your thrifty Great Aunt Myrtle in that I don't waste anything I draw or design.

When I'm doing new work, I look back through my files of older drawings and designs, and will often find a way to repurpose an old drawing. With digital files, it's so easy to change the color or scale of something to make it work beautifully in a new design.

If I draw a heart once, I save it, and for the rest of my life if I need a heart in my design, that's the one I'll use. If I do new work that I'm not crazy about, I'll save it and salvage parts of it later.

I loved the little baby dress Melody mentioned on her blog, made out of her fabric... does she ever plan to do any of her prints on different fabrics bases, like voile, or light cotton/linen, etc...? Question from jennifer R

Kokka really picks the fabrics, not me. I would love to do as many substrates as possible, and that's one great benefit to working with Kokka… their fabrics are amazing. I'm always excited to see what they'll choose next.
By the way, the Spring collection that will be in stores soon is on a lovely lightweight linen/cotton blend. It's a soft, breezy fabric that is perfect for spring and summer.

I would like to know where she goes, or what she does to find her peace?
Question from Erica

Weirdly, I work to find my peace.
I LOVE designing and sewing and making things. When I was making my elephants and was a one-woman sweat shop, that wasn't so fun, but experimenting and problem-solving and figuring out how to make things is a very peaceful, engaging process for me. I do get a little stressed and overwhelmed at times, but I just keep switching activities which seems to do the trick.
I'm an introvert... what can I say?

What is one crafty thing you would like to learn? For example, I sew and quilt. I would love to learn to crochet. Is there any skill you wished you had? Question from Jennifer

I wish I was better at creating 3-dimensional things. 

I've never been a big fan of doing sculpture or pottery and I have a hard time understanding how to make fabric drape around a human body, or how to create a 3-dimensional stuffed object. 

I'm really good at things that are flat:)

If you could choose one person to have lunch with, who would it be?
Question from Eve

I. have. no. idea.

The idea of having lunch with someone really cool makes me all sweaty and anxious. 

I can just see all the lunch faux-pas waiting to happen: 

The sushi bite that is too big for your mouth.
The piece of lettuce the size of your head.
The drippy sandwich,
The oh-my-god-this-has-so-much-garlic pasta,
The sizzling plate whose scent you will wear the rest of the day

.... now I'm all stressed.


Do you listen to music when you design and if so what are you listening to at the moment?
Question from Gwenllian Myfanwy

I got the ‘This American Life’ app on my iphone, and listen to podcasts while I sew. If I get really absorbed in a story from a podcast, I can work without feeling anxious to finish or overwhelmed by a long process. However, If I'm trying to do anything that requires words or linear thinking,
I just have to have silence.

I'd love to know what inspired her to fearlessly design fabrics with attitude that may not be popular with all in the quilting world?
Question from Sheetal

Oh, what can I say? :)
I don't worry too much about what is popular, I just try to do work that I'm attracted to, and trust that others will feel similarly. 

I was shocked to learn that at Spring Quilt Market, many of the shops that bought my line did not buy the bee print. They were a little turned off at the idea of having a large bug on their fabric. Also, some people thought it was a fly. WHATEVER! 

I think the bee is super-cool, and will make an amazing skirt amongst other things, and have now given myself the challenge of making people COVET THE BEE. 

Repeat after me: I LOVE THE BIG BEE. [I do love the big bee - Pings]

Honestly, if I had heard the same of any of the other prints, I would have just shrugged my shoulders and thought, "it's not for everyone". 

But the bee! The bee is really cool!


Where does Miss Melody find her inspiration? Outside herself, or does it come more from the inside Melody? Question from Trisha Too

I am particularly fascinated with vintage things, so that's one major source of inspiration. Mostly, just seeing all the beautiful work out there will inspire me to try and create something of my own. I'm am forever in awe of people who create beautiful and unexpected things.


Are there any images or image combinations that you can't ever see yourself using in a design? maybe you think it's overdone, or you had a childhood fear of something? everyone has their interesting quirks, I'm curious what Melody's is!
Question from Amykins

I don't keep a list or anything, but if I see that lots of people are doing something (like owls, for instance), I'll probably avoid it. I've always been terrified of bees, but alas, they're in my new collection. And deer are now overused, but I still like the designs I did that have deer in them. I'm not sure there's a theme here... I like when an element adds to the interest of the design, but if that element is a little too trendy, I'll try to avoid it.

After the journey of your career so far, what advice would you give to someone starting out trying to make a business from their creative work? Question from Meagan

I don't feel qualified to offer advice as much as support. I would say just keep trying.

Feeling discouraged is as much of the process as anything else, so don't interpret that as a sign to quit. 

If one thing doesn't work, or sell, or get the attention you would hope, try something else.

Just keep trying.

So, that wraps up our little journey into Melody’s brain! How great was that?

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed questions, and of course to Melody for being such a sport! I really enjoyed this little Melody Miller fest!

I’ll be having another one just as soon as Ruby Star Spring is released … wait and see what delights I can rustle up for that one!


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