This year's Fabric8 Contest is well under way, and our community has chosen the 8 finalists who will have a shot at signing with Moda Fabrics to release a beautiful, botanical collection! As finalists work on completing collections based around their winning design, we're getting to know the top 8 a bit better in a series of interviews with each of our finalists! Today, we meet Jennifer Geldard, the artist behind the oh so lovely and intricate Botanical Sketchbook design.
JENNIFER: Hi! I live in a lovely historical small town in the middle of Massachusetts with my husband and son. I have a little gallery and gift shop attached to my studio here, which is open whenever I am in there working, which is pretty much all the time.
How did you get started in Design? Is this your full time gig?
For the past 20 years, I’ve had a fairly successful career as a glass artist and instructor, making torchworked glass beads and jewelry. For the past 2 or 3 years, I’ve been branching out, and returning to my first love, drawing.
During that process, I’ve run into lots of people and experiences that have informed the direction of my work: A life-changing trip to Morocco, participating in Lilla Rogers’ Make Art That Sells courses, the discovery of Spoonflower, to name a few.
I think at heart, I’m an illustrator, but I absolutely adore pattern and have been obsessed with fabric design for the past year. I still work with glass, and I also do a little sewing and photography. As long as I am creating in some sort of capacity, I’m happy.
I took the “Botanical Sketchbook “ brief to heart. I wanted to make a design, and collection, that had a strong hand-drawn feel and vibe. It was important to me to stay connected to what I love about sketching: the soft watercolor brushstrokes, inky line work and the illustrative mood. I wanted it to be reminiscent of a botanist’s research notes.
What has been the biggest help in promoting your work?
Social media. Even before social media really took off, when I was a newbie beadmaker in the 90s, I was online in forums with other beadmakers, sharing techniques and ideas, showing my latest work, and talking glass. That led to people asking if I taught, and a nice steady group of customers I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. And now, with Facebook groups, Instagram, Periscope, and online classes, the world is getting smaller and smaller, and our opportunities are getting bigger and bigger. We have the chance to connect with so many more people on a daily basis, and I find that really exciting!
What is your best advice for fellow designers?
I’m going to steal Neil Gaiman’s brilliant advice and just say “Make Good Art.” If you dont know what I’m talking about, go Google “Neil Gaiman Make good Art” and watch the commencement video. You’ll be glad you did.
What inspires you now?
Everything. Truthfully. It can be a problem sometimes. My brain works like the ball in a pinball machine, bouncing off of everything I see. I can’t react fast enough most days. This week, it’s fantastical floral landscapes and recently, I have a whole series of animals that walk around on two legs in gypsy clothing parading through my brain. The goat/donkey drawing is one of them. I’ve been having fun clothing these creatures in my fabric designs.
Illustrator or Photoshop?
Photoshop, but Illustrator and I are working on our relationship.
Cats or Dogs?
Both. (Just in case they’re reading this.)
Stripes or Polka Dots?
That’s an easy one: Polka Dots.