Spoonflower Spotlight: Student Project Grantees

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Earlier this year as we all began to grapple with a global pandemic, college students around the world continued working on final creative projects for their spring semester. In this post, we catch up with four students who were awarded the Spoonflower Student Project Grant to learn about their makes.

Using Spoonflower, these creatives were able to create immersive art installations, historical garments for theatre productions—one was even inspired to launch a textile business after graduation. Along the way, they learned a great deal about working on large-scale projects. We asked each to share some words of wisdom for students who are seeking to use textiles in their own collegiate projects.

Kadie Nugent, University of Kansas | textiles
kadie.space.com | @sweatsweetie

“With Spoonflower’s support, I was able to create my Masters Thesis Exhibition. I primarily used the Petal Signature Cotton™ fabric because of its ease of use when quilting with it and also because of how saturated the colors are, even after washing. I also used Celosia Velvet™ in my exhibition as well.”

Kadie: It was important to me to use Spoonflower for my project for several reasons. I had used Spoonflower before and was happy with my fabric I had printed, so I knew that I could trust them with the fabric I wanted to create for my thesis show. I also felt that their price for their quality of products and printing is fair, which means that even after this project, I can afford to use their services. That’s imperative for artists! Sidenote: the customer service help I received while working on this project rocked.

I’m currently working on creating quilted garments! I used several quilted sweatshirts that I made to be used as sculptural objects in my exhibition, and I’m interested in pushing them further in terms of their patterning/shape and surface. I see a lot of embroidery in my future.

If you could give advice to other college students working on a large creative project, what would it be?

Dream big(ger). It’s easy to think in terms of the money you have and the time you have at the moment, but pushing yourself to design your ultimate exhibition or sculpture or quilt means that you’re that much closer to making it happen, because you’ve already thought through it.

Blaine Shepherd, University of Cincinnati | costume design

“As a costume designer and technician, there have been times where the perfect print wasn’t available, and I looked towards creating and printing my own designs. The main objective of the project was to explore how digital printing techniques can be beneficial to period costume construction. In this collection of garments, I primarily focused on exact replication of the print, in a study of textile design, historical draping and costume construction.” 

Blaine: Spoonflower and the digital printing process was a significant portion of the project. By designing the replicated prints myself, I was able to fully realize the historical garment.

I used three different types of fabric, that were the most similar to what the original garment was made out of, or appeared to be made out of. The museum sources for the extant garments provided information on what the two dresses were made out of, which was helpful in determining what to select. The three fabrics that I ended up selecting were, the Petal Signature Cotton for the 1838 dress, Celosia Velvet for the 1760s coat, and Poly Crepe de Chine for the 1920s dress.

If you could give advice to other college students working on a large creative project, what would it be?

Allow yourself to step away from the project, and give yourself time to figure out what is working and what isn’t. Also, sometimes a pandemic happens during your project, and you have to make decisions very quickly. Make sure you haven’t allowed the project to consume you, so you can have enough focus to make wise and quick decisions.

Krista Cibis, Pacific Northwest College of Art | textiles
kristacibis.com | @k.anaracibis

“I have primarily been a studio artist, working with textiles. This has given me the chance to really push myself into a new world and design my own fabrics and wallpapers. ” 

Krista: My patterns come around in different ways. Sometimes the designs have a narrative behind them, like a memory from childhood, or a particular place and time. For example, my Roadside collection, that I am currently working on. I have been photographing the wildflowers along the rural gravel roads in northern New Mexico as the seasons change. Those flowers will become the stylized patterns for that series. Other times a pattern will seem to introduce itself, like noticing the spectacular way sunlight refracted through a water glass sitting on the table, making beautiful arcs and lines. Mostly the patterns come through observation and taking note of color combinations. The more I look, the more I see.

The support from Spoonflower has made me think about things in a much bigger way. It has opened my eyes to entirely new directions for my work as an artist and now as a designer. I will be launching my business, Pintuck, which will be featured during Portland Textile Month in October. Starting my own textile business was not something I would have imagined before, so I am very excited! Lots of work ahead!

If you could give advice to other college students working on a large creative project, what would it be?

The possibilities can seem endless, which can become overwhelming. At some point you just have to jump in. You can learn technical things as you go and don’t need to already be an expert. It is a time to be flexible and experiment…and borrow a ton of books from the library.

Matthew Willie Garcia, University of Kansas | printmaking
matthewwilliegarcia.com | @matthewwilliegarcia

“My thesis exhibition, Entanglement, is an immersive art installation that asks for the viewers’ intimacy, exploration, and time. The exhibition is a glimpse into my imagined universe that is called Quantum States and Queer Realities.”

Matthew: Each moment of the exhibition is part of a larger whole, like celestial bodies within a gallery sized galaxy. It is a journey through an extra-dimensional queer space that calls for one to consider their own existence. The exhibition draws on the concepts in quantum entanglement to explore intimacy and the interconnectedness of all things. Entanglement imagines what it might be like to have an encounter with my queer romantic universe.

For this project I chose the Chiffon because of how the lightweight material added to the ethereal feel of the space. It was important to utilize these materials, because they spoke to the fluid nature of my work. I have recently started working with 3D modeling in my animations, and I can’t wait till I can use these animations in real space and with printed textiles.

If you could give advice to other college students working on a large creative project, what would it be?

Take risks. Don’t think that your craziest ideas are unattainable.

Interested in applying for the Spoonflower Student Project Grant?

Full-time undergraduate and graduate students worldwide are eligible. We begin accepting applications for each school year in August with an application deadline of October 1. (opens in a new tab)”>More Information >

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