We're back with our designer of the week, interviewing Jackie Tahara from UnBlink Studio. Based in Canada, Jackie creates 60s inspired prints that are bursting with colour and energy!
What is your studio name and location?
My studio is named UnBlink Studio, located in beautiful Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.
Which design school did you study at?
I have a Diploma in Textile Design from Capilano University in Vancouver, Canada. More recently, I have become a big fan of online courses! Over the last two years, I completed all 4 modules of the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design from Make It In Design, and I have also taken numerous Make Art That Sells, Folio Focus and other portfolio builder courses. When I have a chance, I also like to take the fantastic design courses offered on Skillshare! So much to learn!
When did you first start being interested in design?
I have always been an artist and have always created, whether paintings, collages, weaving rugs and tapestries. But I really became interested in surface pattern design when I discovered it was a “thing” that you could do, particularly after I found the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design courses. It was just luck that I happened to find them in an online search, and at the time I was also teaching myself Adobe Illustrator, so it just all fit at the right time!
Describe your style for us in 10 words?
Fun and colourful pattern collections combining lush and organic motifs with clean geometric forms. I design gorgeous, sophisticated florals to charming designs for kids.
What is your favourite medium to work in and why?
I usually start with really quick pencil sketches to visualize a pattern layout, then start defining the motifs, adding more and more detail and refining the flow of lines as I go. Sometimes I’ll scan these pencil drawings right into Illustrator or work with them a bit more with my black Sharpies before scanning. Then in Illustrator, I refine and tweak and refine and tweak and refine and tweak...and colour!
What/who are your major influences?
I love the retro design and colour palettes inspired by the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I am also inspired by Scandinavian design, the intricate patterns of William Morris and Josef Frank, and the craft traditions I have seen throughout my international travels, (such as silk saris, Indonesian batiks and weavings, Japanese kimonos, Middle Eastern tile-work, indigo dyeing and Mexican folk art).
Best exhibition/museum/research trip/inspirational place?
I love to travel and spent several years travelling in Asia, Europe and the Middle East before I had kids. So really, I find inspiration from the places I visit; almost everywhere has inspiring art and craft traditions. Recently, I lived in Hawaii for two years and was inspired by its amazing natural beauty and vintage aloha shirts; I loved the tile work and folk art I saw on a recent trip to Mexico; and this summer, I went to Japan for 3 weeks, which was FULL of pattern design inspiration, both traditional and cutting-edge. Have a look at my IG feed or my Blog (on my website) to see some inspiring photos of Japan!
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently taking the online FolioFocus 2018 portfolio building course which is resulting in many new pattern designs! I am currently working with an agent in Israel, so I am continuing to make new designs to submit to her. I am also in the process of submitting my designs to many other potential clients. I have recently licensed several of my pattern designs for stationery, so I am just waiting to see these products in real life!
What music do you listen to while designing?
I often listen to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), Canada’s national public radio, while I am working. And when I am listening to music, I love to listen to a wide variety. My favourites are Oliver Mtukudzi, Manu di Bango, Cesaria Evora and Habib Koite, to name just a very few.
What is your favourite part of the design process from inspiration, drawing to the final printed fabric/product?
There are several parts of the process that I love: sketching in pencil and refining the lines and shapes of a motif; working in Adobe Illustrator and refining and tweaking and refining and tweaking (I think I said this before); laying out the motifs in a design that is full of movement, moving the pieces into place like a puzzle; and one of the best parts is, of course, adding colour!
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I would of course like to see my pattern designs “out there” on a wide variety of products, so I am trying to find an agent to help me with this. In the longer term, I would love to become a recognizable design “brand”, licensing my surface pattern designs widely and perhaps having a range of my own branded products! I also have ideas for children’s books too…
What tips would you give new designers starting out?
Well I’m a new designer just starting out really, but I would just say to put your head down and just keep working, one step at a time. Also, just design in a way that you find satisfying and that you like. Keep it fun and keep going!
You can browse and purchase Jackie's prints on Fashion Formula here