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Designer of the Week: Diane Rooney

Self -taught designer Diane Rooney creates nostalgic patterns in beautiful colour palettes inspired by her seaside home in Cornwall. Combining hand drawing with her graphic design skills, Diane has scooped her own collection of printed fabrics with big retailers and also sells her vintage prints here at Fashion Formula!  

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What is your studio name and location? 

Diane Rooney and I’m located in the heart of beautiful Cornwall.


Where did you study (if you did)?

I’m primarily self-taught - I have taken a handful of online courses.  I love Skillshare and Creative Live.


Describe your design process

I guess my design process starts with an idea.  An inspiration.  Once I’ve made a decision to create a design, I then brainstorm it, doing a “brain dump” in one of my notebooks.  I generally design in collections.  Very rarely do I just do a one off design.  So my brainstorming is all about colours, who is it for, motif ideas, composition, scale etc.  From my brainstorming, I create a mood board, usually on Pinterest.  I then go onto the sketching.  I love my sketchbook and pencils.  I put aside time to just draw and draw.  I always do many more motifs than I ever need.  After I have some good motifs, I get them into my iPad Pro via taking a photo, trace over them in Procreate, export them into Illustrator.  Sometimes I re-draw in Illustrator or I use Live Trace.  And then it’s all about creating the repeats and working on colour.  The process can vary depending on if I’m doing a commission or doing my own personal work but it’s more or less - inspiration, mood board, draw, digitise!  Oh and editing.  When you think you’re done, look closely and edit.  Walk away for a while, come back and I guarantee you’ll find something that’s slightly off.  It takes a bit of time and experience to know when to stop though!

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What is your favourite part of the design process from inspiration, drawing to the final printed fabric/product? 

Oh gosh, honestly, I love it all.  Once I get a spark of an idea, I really love working it up into a design.  It’s the whole thing.  I do love looking at the finished results.  And sewing with my own fabric is always a great joy.


Who do you design for? Who is your muse? 

My family.  Ultimately as much as this is my work, and I know I’m hugely blessed to do work like this, I do it because I love it.  It’s my legacy to my children and grandchildren.  And also those that buy my designs.  I want to put a little bit of happy into the world.  I take great joy in what I design and do and I hope somehow that joy comes across.


What first sparked your interest in print design?  

I used to design papers and digital products for the craft industry.  It was a much loved hobby initially while bringing up my 4 children (this is over 15 yrs ago).  I then started to get commissions and suddenly I had a very small business.  I’ve always loved sewing particularly home decor and quilting and one day I made the connection between my paper designs and fabric - I suddenly just wanted to see my designs on fabric.

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Describe your style in 5 words

Whimsical, happy, simple, contemporary, colourful


What is your favourite medium to work in and why?

I love sketching.  Pencils and sketch book.  I find it hugely relaxing.  But I think my favourite medium is digital.  I love the process of seeing a sketch come to life when I’m on my computer.  I love my iPad Pro, Photoshop and Illustrator.  I use an iMac and MacBook for when I’m out and about.


What / who are your major influences?  

In terms of designers, I’m a huge fan of William Morris.  I loved that he truly was a print and pattern genius.  Such beautiful designs.  I love Marimekko, Orla Keily and Cath Kidston. 


What has been your career highlight so far? 

Definitely seeing my fabric in my local fabric shop.  My first fabric collection was with Makower UK and there’s nothing like seeing your name on a selvedge and your designs in a shop.  Following on from that, it is amazing when customers send you photos of what they’ve made with your designs.  I love that.  Having my designs featured in UK quilt magazines has been amazing too.

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Your biggest challenge you have faced as a designer

Not always getting what’s in my head translated into a design.  Second guessing whether what you’re working is what people will buy.  Generally, I try to design what I would love to see in a shop.  The other challenge is getting seen.  Getting enough work to keep the business going.  Building a brand.


Best exhibition/museum/research trip/inspirational place 

V & A in London, Tate St Ives and where I live.  Cornwall is amazingly inspirational.  It’s a stunning place and full of so many creatives. 


Favourite music when designing 

I’m a huge soul and Motown fan but more recently I love listening to books.  Love Audible.

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What are you working on at the moment? 

Christmas!  I’ve got 3 different Christmas collections on the go.  I felt I needed more Seasonal designs in my portfolio.  I love Christmas so decided to start there.


What do you hope to accomplish in the future? 

I want to establish a good brand that includes regular design work including a licensing contracts, teaching and coaching.


Do you have any tips for new designers starting out? 

Be persistent and consistent.  Don’t look at what others are doing.  Be true to yourself.  Create authentically and competition won’t be an issue.  It’s tough out there but if you’re true to yourself and create from your heart in your own style, you’ll get seen.  It is hard but if it’s your joy and you love what you do, then keep going.

Tags: Designer of the Week, Diane Rooney, Vintage, seaside, print, digital print, pastel, florals, lobster, digital design, pattern design, surface design,


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