Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bright Colors, Fabrics and Quilting Design - Artist Cara Gulati

I've started to test print some tear-sheets for my new collections that I will present at Surtex this May - I am testing for colors and size, depending on the artwork. Some fabric repeats, for example, make more sense when presented in a larger format. The paper I am using is premium presentation matte. Colors are very key to presentations and getting the right hues is important, especially when you work on coordinated pieces. Unfortunately it requires lots of ink and paper to get all the collections printed but I think it's still a necessary evil. I will also use a tablet at the show to show my designs in addition to the printed artwork, at least for my first year - both systems work well. Many artists just show digital images, no more paper or binder presentations, and they love it.

© Alex Colombo
Speaking of presentations, at a Christmas party with my local art licensing group in Berkeley I met designer and artist Cara Gulati. She designs very colorful quilts and travels the world, too. She knows what fabrics are good and what are not. I invited her to be our guest and talk about this popular world of textile design.

Cara says her career path is composed of many different jobs. "I am a designer, author, teacher, publisher and quilt artist. My background is in fashion design and merchandising." She currently lives in San Rafael, California with her part time dog Roxie whom she shares. "It’s a great arrangement because I travel so much. My house is also my studio space. I get to decorate it any way I want to. Every room is a different color!"

Radiant Suns - © Cara Gulati
She also adds: "I consider myself to be quite lucky to work in my field of choice. In order to do that I have to have my hands in many buckets, so to speak. I design and make large fiber art quilts and I design fabric. I write and publish books and patterns for quilters. I sell long-arm quilting machines for A1 Long Arm Machines - big industrial machines for stitching three quilt layers together. I travel the world to teach and lecture about my work. I also show my work in galleries."

Cara tells us about her techniques in quilting and sewing. "I am known for including curved seam piecing and freezer paper applique. For designing fabric and art quilts I use Adobe Illustrator and for publishing I use Adobe CS." She then continues, saying: "Fiber art is my first love right now. I am continuing to work on a series called 3-D Explosion, which involves designs that look like scrolls of paper rolling up and unrolling. The designs appear to have two sides. I create art quilts with these designs to hang on the wall."Fabric is her muse. Bright colors and sharp graphic designs catch her eye and send her mind into a frenzy of ideas. "It's even more interesting to me when the feel and the hand (the drape and weight of the fabric) are soft, smooth and heavy."

Jazzy Jewels - © Cara Gulati
Some of Cara's inspiration comes from other artists' work, world architecture, and books of patterns. Nature inspires her with colors. "In my home/studio almost every room is a different color," she comments. "My favorite room, the family room, has three different orange colors in it. The first two are tints, the last one is very saturated. It's decorated with art and an area rug in brilliant aqua/turquoise blues. I have art (mostly from other artists) hanging on every wall in my house. It's very uplifting to me."

She is currently working on a new show that runs between Thanksgiving and New Years. It's going to be a new series similar to 3-D Explosion. Quilts usually hang flat on walls like tapestries but she plans to attach them to stretched artist canvases so they hang like art that people are used to buying, "with the hope that my fiber art will be experienced in a different and yet familiar way," she concludes.

Any important tips you'd like to share in regards to designing quilts or fabric designs for quilts that will help new artists with their collections, I ask?

Neon Fireworks - © Cara Gulati
"Fabric companies that cater to the quilt market are looking for a story. Design collections that show and sell well usually have one main fabric that the rest of the line is designed around. Let's say you are doing a panel with a tree, some birds, flowers and grass. The important supporting fabrics would be made up of elements from your panel, such as the same flowers on one fabric and birds on another fabric. Then the next set of supporting fabrics would do well as all-over designs such as tone-on-tone grass or the pattern of the tree bark. Leaves would also be a good all over. Dots and stripes in the same colors are good supporters too."

What's next for Cara? "I am looking into doing more graphic design and possibly trying licensing in some different industries. The Home Decor market has always appealed to me, so I'll be looking seriously at that in the near future."

3D Party Explosion - © Cara Gulati

Find out more about Cara Gulati here: www.doodlepress.com

[Editor's note] All photography © Gregory Case: www.gregorycase.com

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