Friday, February 25, 2011

Inspiration and Process

A long time ago, an art teacher told me that it takes at least ten years of hard work to fully develop as an artist. At the time, I dismissed his comment, but as the years march on and I look back at where I've been and where I'm going, I now know he was right. It takes a lot of time, effort and work to find one's voice, to learn where to find new inspiration, and to understand process.

Zandra Rhodes, Crinoline Dress, 1973
Photo by Anthony Scoggins
As I delve deeper into the world of Zandra Rhodes, I think there is much to learn about her process as an artist and textile designer. The garments she creates are all about the textile, with lines and silhouettes that  highlight the textile. Looking at how she cuts the fabric, it is clearly evident that she maximizes the most beautiful features of the pattern and minimizes waste (reminding me of how it was done in the 18th century when cuts were minimized on the expensive and ornate fabrics).

Zandra Rhodes Sketchbook at the Mingei Museum
Photo by Ingrid Mida 2011
But the process all begins with her sketchbook. Unlike many fashion designers, she does not sketch garments. Instead her black hard-covered sketchbooks document her travels around the world and record whatever caught her eye on any given day. The sketches include plants, flowers, ceramic tiles, architecture, cartoons, waves, sculptures, doodles, anything that interested her.  Her sketchbooks are the first and most important step in finding inspiration for her fabric designs and the reason the Zandra Rhodes label is so unique. The book Zandra Rhodes, a lifelong affair with textiles, includes pages from her sketchbook and illustrates the process of translating these sketches into patterns for fabric design. The book is the next best thing to seeing the exhibition at the Mingei.

As an artist myself, I have a sketchbook, actually there are at least five of various sizes and shapes on my desk right now, but my use of them has been sporadic at best. And even though I travel widely and often, they rarely get the use that they should because I've let myself be distracted by demands of my family, my job, my blog, my Blackberry, and a symphony of other stuff.

Zandra Rhodes: A Lifelong Affair with Textiles
Mingei Museum
1439 El Prado - on the Plaza de Panama, San Diego CA
P: 619-239-0003