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.

10 thoughts on “A Follow-up

  1. My Mom said this in response to the letter:

    “Ouch! you got your hand slapped. Yes, Luana seems pretty firm in her convictions, but at least you planted the seed.”

    I concur.

  2. I’m not sure your hand was slapped; her hand was given again with firm boundaries. Your voice is the divergent one; she is perhaps giving you the opportunity to define “our”. Implicit in the response you’ve been given is community; one of your themes. Seeds sprout best in commonality; differences then help growth. She is going to carry on. Can you respect her and her role in the process? Everyone will miss out if you could be forging something worthwhile together and it doesn’t happen.

    • Carol, thank you for showing the other side of the coin. It is indeed generous of Luana to give of her time and expertise for this project. She chose to contribute to SAQA in this way. I also respect the stated boundaries of the project — I am not asking anyone to beg me to participate, and I didn’t expect the parameters to be changed (though, they were: see the new link above). Others may participate but I choose not to. I stated my differences as a way to help SAQA grow for the next time. I do not worry that anyone is missing out on something SAQA/Andover/and I could have forged together. I doubt that anyone would miss a contribution seen to be the easy part — the part so inconsequential that I would have had to pay for it to be considered (to be fair, the new parameters have removed the fee for entry). If I have failed my community, so be it.

  3. I thought about your post yesterday as I cleaned. I thought more last night. I think the call for designs was poorly stated. If, the noticed had stated they were looking for donations of designs for this project and for the artist’s time, their name would have been included on the selvedge, you and I wouldn’t have had the same reaction. To pose the request as a competition, we all jump to the conclusion there will be monetary rewards and a foot in the door with fabric companies. I agree with your Mom. 🙂

  4. personally, i dislike the smugness of the response letter you received. not knowing who Luana was, I googled her. Interestingly, I came across this set of fabrics designed by her:

    It reminded me of a set of very popular fabrics produced by Alexander Henry Fabrics back in 1997 called “Buckaroos”. Since then, AHF added more background colors (red, blue, black) as well as newly drawn full figure cowboys and girls as well as some more recent “sexy” versions. Philip deLeon and his sister Nicole were friends of mine back then from the shows and one day in Houston we had a little time off. I was browsing used book and antique stores and came across a children’s book. I always like to look at book endsheets. In one there was a great pastedown of old cowboys from an old watercolor. I thought it would make a great fabric so I bought it for Philip and took it to him at the show the next day. He loved it too and a great fabric collection was born. I still have that book…
    a link to some of the images:

    Many fabric lines have copied this cowboy theme in various ways each trying to make it their own. The biz is rife with it. So much fabric, every season a new batch. Too much! And now SAQA wants to get in on it. Should they consider environmental factors of adding yet more printed cotton fabric to the glut of similar fabrics already available? Perhaps a different fundraising effort could be explored.

    I also find it interesting that someone who is involved in creating their own fabric collections for a living (not to mention SAQA) would ask designers to submit designs like this. Sounds like a great way to source ideas for free- trying to come up with something different at the expense of SAQA members under the guise of fundraising. But that’s probably just me wondering again. I also wonder what the “percentage” is that goes to SAQA. Your previous post doesn’t say. I wonder how much fabric will need to be sold to make a dent in SAQA’s fundraising efforts. I’d love to see those figures.
    Good for you for speaking your mind!

    • Glennis, it is exactly that smugness that will keep me from entering anything even now that the parameters have been changed. Also, the more I’ve looked into fabric design the more conflicted I am, with the things that you cite being no small part of it.

  5. I am with you Kristin. Despite the softening of the parameters of the project and my own email from Luana (in which she emphasized that it was for my eyes only and I could not share it online! Ha!) it still smells strongly, to me, of spec work and a little exploitation of artists that are very eager for recognition regardless of the ethics involved. The more I learn about this project the less viable it actually sounds to me, though I will probably be proven wrong! Anyway, I’m not submitting anything either.

  6. nice that they reconsidered, but you are right to continue to be skeptical. surprising to see artists try to use other artists like this. booo. you did a good thing.

  7. You hit the bullseye:

    [SAQA should ] change the promotion for an “Opportunity for SAQA Members” to “A New Kind of Fundraiser for SAQA.”

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