Book 1: Kim Kight is the fabric expert behind the much loved blog TrueUp. It was only a matter of time before she would write a book and I so very glad to finally be able to tell you how excellent it is. Kim has a way of delving into each topic with such depth and unbiased insight which is why her blog has become the go-to place for fabric designers and fabric appreciators alike. And her recent book, A Field Guide to Fabric Design (C&T Publishing November 2011), I am very happy to report does her justice.
In A field guide, you will find: how to develop your design using various tools (with tutorials), how to develop a colour palette (with a colour theory primer), there is a bit about copyright, collections, fabrics and printing options, and finishing with how to enter the designing fabric marketplace. All of this information is set out very clearly and is an excellent overview to getting started on designing your own fabric and starting up a business in fabric design.
Book 2: Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design (Chronicle Books February 2012), is a recent release on the market covering this very popular diy fabric design market. The author Laurie Wisbrun, brings her personal expertise to the table here, as a surface designer who began designing and selling her own fabric designs through Etsy (using Spoonflower printing) and now designs for Robert Kaufman Fabrics.
This is a big book with a lovely textured hard cover — I like that in a book. Master the Art in addition to how to design, info on colour and fabric etc has the addition of guest designers offering some tutorials, for example Malka Dubrawsky explains the process of dyeing, while Jesse Breytenbach explains how to print by hand. The book is bulked out with some interesting interviews with fabric designers as they tell us how they got started in the industry.
Comparison: it is difficult to compare these two books, they do cover a lot of the same ground, but are written from different perspectives. Either of these books would be a useful addition to your design library.
Master the Art is stronger in the design aspect. Laurie’s knowledge as a surface designer comes to the fore and her photoshop and illustrator tutorials are very thorough, and her personal experience using Print-on-demand services meant that she has some detailed advice regarding colour management and digital printing. I would have hoped for more regarding marketing and selling your designs, but these business development sections may require a whole other book!
Kim Kight brings a broader view to her book, she has a vast knowledge of pattern, trends, vintage and current fabrics and designers as well as having experimented and researched many of the digital and online printing options. A field guide offers a lot of examples of fabric designs from all eras which I thought was a definite bonus (Laurie seemed to focus more on her own and other contemporary designs), Kim’s strengths lie in her broad view, passion and understanding of the fabric industry as a whole.
Both great books which can’t but help overlap in many ways but come from different perspectives and add to the whole story of becoming a fabric designer.
Fabric design online resources:
- Bonbonkakku :: fabric on demand :: Karma craft :: spoonflower
- Lizzy house - Article on getting into the fashion/textile industry
- Its a good idea to create a mood board
- Ellen has a great roundup of fabric printing ideas and resources
- How to create a repeat pattern on paper
- Portabellopixie explains the design process
- How Sarah Fielke designs her fabric
- MORE design stories and inspiration back here