06 Mar

A Follow-up

It is probably bad form for me to share publicly a letter/email sent just to me, however, the following response I received this morning from Luana Rubin was illuminating:

Dear Kristin,

Thanks for your question!

This is a purely a fundraiser for SAQA. Anyone who participates (including myself) is doing it gratis to support the organization. In return they will have their name on the selvedge and in the marketing materials.

For someone looking to get their foot in the door for being a commercial fabric designer, it could be a great opportunity! If you’d rather get paid
for designing your own collection, you can go directly to the fabric companies and show your portfolio, of course.

SAQA is creating the opportunity for aspiring designers and SAQA will receive the benefits – which benefits all of us who are SAQA members.

Speaking as someone who has worked in commercial textile design for over 30 years, I can say that the easy part is creating the artwork. The larger amount of effort and time to merchandise, produce, ship and market the collection will be done for the artists.

If you don’t see a value in the project for yourself, you are certainly free to not participate, or to approach fabric manufacturers directly to do your own collection.

I am donating a significant amount of time to this project to support SAQA. If you have further questions we can certainly try to make our aims more clear, but I do ask you not to interfere with this fundraiser for SAQA, which will also attract new members.

Our goal is to promote, expand and support SAQA, which I hope you can also support.
I hope that answers your question.

I have also received emails from artists and designers who think this is a great idea, so lets be positive and support this great organization!

best wishes,

I appreciate the prompt response and understand what she is saying. In short, something I, as a SAQA member, might like to see done (and think is actually possible) would be to change the promotion for an “Opportunity for SAQA Members” to “A New Kind of Fundraiser for SAQA.” Perhaps that would sit better with me and a few others.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I am OK with the annual benefit auction and not OK with this. I think it is because when we are donating a small piece of art we can often choose something that we have already created, or we can decide just how much time and effort we are willing to put into it. Perhaps I am mistaken, but to create a collection of six coordinating fabric designs with market appeal (and potentially do that multiple times as is allowed in the contest), would be similar to creating six pieces of art to donate — and I don’t think I’ve ever seen even the most ardent SAQA supporter submit six pieces to the annual auction.

As an aside, I HAVE tried my hand at fabric design. I created a collection of Modern Tropical designs (click on Kunia in my sidebar to see them at Spoonflower) which I sent to Free Spirit, Moda, Timeless Treasures, Alexander Henry, Island Treasures and Trendtex. My designs were either rejected, or the company creates all their designs in-house. So yes, I have approached manufacturers directly as Luana suggested I could do if I wished to be paid for my efforts. I suppose since the designing is, as she stated, the easy part, I should take this rejection as proof that I don’t have any talent in this arena. Maybe I can’t even hack it as an artist since payment and exposure are not coming easy to me. Of course, I only mailed my proposals and samples. I could have tried harder by paying for a plane ticket to Houston, and several nights at a hotel, plus paying a baby sitter to watch my kids while I was away, and shown my portfolio and samples directly and in-person to manufacturers at Quilt Market. BUT, since my work as an artist is easy and not worth paying for, I don’t have the bank account to support that kind of investment. I do agree that the marketing, sales, and promotion of fabric designs, and most any other kind of art, is difficult and time intensive, and I appreciate Andover’s offer, but even galleries (who also take care of the hard part) share 40 to 60 percent of the proceeds with their artists.

I want to continue to support, and be supported by, SAQA and I will try not to let this one project turn me sour. I think I have said my peace and will retreat to my corner as requested. While I am not quite ready to let my SAQA membership or participation lapse, it may be time for me to return to my “no new, off the bolt, fabric for me” rule as a small protest.

NEW: Due to the lively exchange of ideas on the SAQA discussion board, the parameters of the project have been changed to something more favorable to SAQA’s artist/designer members. See the new Call here. I am happy to have possibly been a part of this change. However, I personally still feel stung by the original Call for Entries, and that my (or any other artist’s) part in the process is the “easy” (and by inference, inconsequential) portion, so I still choose not to participate. I wish all the other SAQA members who submit designs all the best and I hope to see the resulting collection well received at Market.

05 Mar

I will not work on spec. I will not work on spec. I will not work on spec.

I am a content Active SAQA member. I see many benefits of membership in this professional organization. A Call for Entries today got me excited. An opportunity for me to try again at fabric design (the Hawaiian designs I shopped around a few years ago were flops)! I read the details with anticipation.

Andover Fabrics (formerly Concord) will print and market a collection of cotton fabrics branded with the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) name and logo – the SAQA Urban Textures fabric collection. A percentage of sales of the collection fabrics will go to support SAQA in our 25th Anniversary Year – 2014!

Until I got to this part…where my heart sank.

You will be asked to agree with these Terms and Conditions:
This set of designs is my original design. I understand that my designs may be altered in order to be successfully used for the SAQA Urban Textures fabric collection. I agree to give Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. copyright to these designs, including all rights, titles, and interest in and to the designs. If my design collection is selected, I will sign a transfer document transferring copyright to Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. I UNDERSTAND THAT I AM ENTERING THIS COMPETITION TO SUPPORT SAQA AND WILL NOT RECEIVE ANY MONETARY REMUNERATION.

Did you catch the part in all caps? Flashback to my graphic design days. AIGA’s position discourages the inherent discount of the most important element of most design project — the research, thoughtful consideration of alternatives, and creative contribution designers make toward client’s objectives that occurs when working without commitment or compensation from the client. I think the same concepts can be applied here. So I sent off an email to SAQA’s president, and the competition’s juror:

Dear Martha and Luana,

Wow, everywhere I turn, there’s a new line of fabric being promoted or created. The variety available to the consumer is amazing. So it pleases me to see SAQA approached as a possible source of unique designs. I am also in support of seeking out new and different ways to promote SAQA and art quilts in general. I appreciate SAQA and the opportunities I have found through the organization.

As a former graphic designer, a current art quilter, and an artist whose subject matter often includes villages and homes, I got excited reading the call for entries. Finally, here was a project that might actually be appropriate for me to pursue. However, when I worked as a graphic designer, we as a profession were always cautioned not to do work on spec. To develop sketches and ideas, the difficult intellectual and creative part of design, for free, with only a hope that it may be selected, devalues the work of the designer. So you can imagine my disappointment when I read the terms of Call for Entry. Not only would NONE of the competing artists get paid for their work, they would also have to pay their way into the competition. An artist paying to do work on spec?! What that shows me is that Andover and SAQA place absolutely no value on my, or any of the artists’ creativity — our strongest asset.

I can’t imagine that Kaffe Fasset, Jinny Beyer, Amy Butler, Thomas Knauer, Heather Bailey, Anna Maria Horner, or any of the myriad fabric designers whose collections are the billboards of the major fabric companies today are creating their designs without monetary compensation. Exposure is a canard as well. New lines of fabric are introduced and replaced at the speed of light and buzz for a few weeks at Quilt Market is hardly worth the devaluation of one’s artistic capability.

While I appreciate the effort to expand SAQA’s footprint into other aspects of the quilt world, I’m afraid that I cannot support this project. I will not enter any designs. In addition, I will encourage my colleagues not to submit as well.


Kristin La Flamme

While I don’t expect the parameters of this particular project to be changed, I hope that SAQA will take into consideration the value of our intellect and creativity when the next opportunity arises. Perhaps a few potential applicants will re-think submitting and send emails themselves. Ideally, Andover will see a little more value in those with the potential to create the products upon which their business thrives, though I’m not holding my breath. Finally, I’m feeling deflated. Disappointed. Once again, a conviction of mine has closed a door on opportunity. I’m sorry it has to be this way.

04 Mar

Self Portrait Su… Monday

This was a week of photo portraits. Mostly because I was focused on finishing a project and spent the majority of the week sitting on the couch knitting a shawl that, while it appeared to be the project closest to completion, actually refuses to be finished.

So, last Sunday’s portrait, number 365:072, combines the shawl (as I finished it and realized that in order to utilize the full range of the yarn’s color changes, I needed to start over and add more in the center section) and a photo of me hanging myself with it.

365:072a is a bonus since I couldn’t NOT try the Cutout filter on my layered portrait.

I am very curious about drawing and painting technology on phones and tablets. I tried out the Brushes App on my phone, using my finger (I totally need to get a stylus with my next Amazon order) for Portrait 365:073. The simple style is inspired by a bookmark the kids left on my desk.

365:074. The kitty has been enjoying my sedentary lifestyle this week. He’s decided that sitting on my arms best helps me knit. I think I used the Paint Daubs filter.

Speaking of kitties, I made hubby a Grumpy Cat pillow for Valentine’s Day and he reciprocated with a Hello Grumpy T-shirt for me! I model both for 365:075.

Found the lens flare filter and made 365:76 a fake hipster portrait.

365:077. I made duplicate layers and played with transparency, colors, and filters (like the cutout one), trying to change up the previous day’s portrait, and ended up with something pretty darn similar to the previous photo.

Saturday was spent as an Appraiser for our regional Destination Imagination competition, a fun and creative extra-curricular activity for the kids. The group I worked with had a film making theme, so all the officials dressed up. I wore a sparkly gold wig which I made even more sparkly with the Glowing Edges filter for 365:078.

My view on Sunday (yesterday). I got to the last color change, but this time, ran out of yarn just before the end of the bind-off, and ultimately ripped back the day’s work. 365:079 is desaturated, as is my enthusiasm for this (knitting) project.