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    • Please join me in welcoming Micaela Zahner for a Cake Panel!

      About Micaela: Micaela Zahner is a textile designer based in Brooklyn, New York, and originally from Vermont. With a lifelong passion for color and creating, a degree in textile design, and background working in corporate fashion companies, she branched out in 2015 and started her own textile design business. She loves designing crazy-cool geometric patterns, or Collections of Killer Designs, for outdoor and active specialty brands - merchandising eclectic groups of prints and custom-designing each one.

      Welcome Micaela!

    • I was always into arts and crafts when I was growing up, I made all sorts of things and sold them at the school holiday craft bazaar. It wasn't until I exhibited at my first textile design trade show that I realized I had been entrepreneurial all along, and that those craft bazaars in middle school really were my first trade shows! I wonder how much the "booths" (tables) cost, maybe $15, or free. I made and sold jewelry, I painted furniture, decorated my bedroom, and also made these colorful magnetic picture frames for the fridge. I wrote my initials and the year on the back of each one - in a metallic silver marker, no less - and it's such a delight to go to the houses of friends and family and see them in action - and I'm like - you still have that?! It's a cool affirmation that I had a knack for decor all along. However I never identified as an "artist" because they could paint realistic portraits and I couldn't.

      Then when I was 20 my aunt told me about the field of textile design and I instantly knew it was the culmination of everything I had always loved. It's the decorative fun part of the fashion industry and the home interiors industry. So I went to school at The Fashion Institute of Technology, or FIT, where I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Textile and Surface Design. I also worked in-house at many corporate fashion companies, including Banana Republic and Victoria's Secret PINK. Then in 2015 I left to start my own textile design business, exhibiting at trade shows including Premiere Vision. I started as a print studio, designing and selling prints and representing other designers as well. Over the past few years I shifted into designing collections of custom prints for clients who want something special for their brand. I've come to love the business side of things, but am still ever-fascinated by the world of textile design.

    • Textile design and design in general is everywhere, but we oftentimes don't think about the people who create these omnipresent parts of our lives. Can you walk us through what designing a t-shirt or pair of yoga pants might be in terms of process?

    • Some things I just make up as I go. But for custom designs I start with a mood board or inspo-images, both from my client and from images I choose. It's good to keep the end-use and target customer in mind because a print a teenage girl would wear on a bathing suit may not be the same print a middle-aged man would wear on his pants. Or maybe it would. :) 

      A design can start from anything - a painted brushstroke, a photographed texture, or from purely digital shapes. Regardless of how I start a design, it usually ends up in Photoshop or Illustrator and I make all kinds of changes to it - combining it with other motifs, changing the
      colors, the scale, or spacing. When I like the design and my client approves it, I move on to creating the files and instructions the factory will use to print the fabric. It depends how it's being manufactured but most designs need to be in repeat - so it can be printed indefinitely on yards and yards of fabric. This part can be super technical, and I like geeking out on all the repeat measurements and guidelines. We also choose Pantone color standards to make sure it's printed the way we want it to look.

    • My favorite projects have been custom prints - I love the evolution of working with someone and combining our ideas to create something awesome - their push helps me design, and my designs help their ideas come to life. I love it even more when I get to design a collection of multiple prints, and decide what looks best with each other - mixing and matching and balancing a combination of florals and geos, colors and stripes, the crazy-funky with the clean and simple.

    • Yes!! I've chatted up people at the swimming pool being like, "Hi, I like your bathing suit, I actually designed that." I try not to be creepy but it's also so fun! Another time I saw a woman
      walking across the street in a shirt with a print I designed and I just smiled to myself and carried on. It's pretty magical to see my work floating around out there in the world. However it may even be more rewarding when friends and family are so excited to own things I've
      made. Sometimes I feel that's the real end-use I want for all the products I help design, for them to be used and loved by those I'm closest to!

    • Really it's all about that sheer f&$%ing excitement of seeing things that looks good together. When I'm working on something and it looks ok, and I make a few tweaks and all of it sudden it looks freaking amazing - I literally jump up and down and squeal. Usually that's a color combo or some other kind of juxtaposition - varying degrees of contrast between textures, shapes, colors. Or when something visually has some kind of swagger or personality. It packs a punch.

    • You've worked with some big brands like Victoria's Secret PINK, Cirque du Soleil, The Gap, and others. What would you say drew them to your aesthetic?

    • The gift shop!! I love seeing clever product design, and as my friend once said, "Whoa, someone was thinking when they made that." Innovation is alive and well in most museum gift shops. It's also cool to see art that's normally on a wall in a museum turned into day-to-day items like like notebooks and tote bags. A true definition of the "applied arts."

      As for the actual museum, I love huge colorful paintings like Hilma af Klint's playful lavender, yellow, red, and black shapes that were at the Guggenheim recently.

    • This boils down to 2 things, technology and attitude.

      Flaunting the amazing innovative technology something was made with is always cool. People make things in certain ways - simply because they can! When digital printing became possible, so did photoreal floral designs that really show off that full range of color and incredible detail. When laser-cutting fabric became possible, mesh workout shirts with geometric designs cut out became all the rage. And the made-to-order industry opened up so many doors, you can order custom sneakers to be made in your fave colors, with your name embroidered on them. Or you can upload a photo you took on your phone and turn it into coffee mugs, no problem.
      Sustainability is also a huge frontier where companies are exploring super-inventive materials and fibers for making clothing and gear.

      Attitude is the other area where people are pushing the limits - not of what's possible, but of what's acceptable. To be really weird and challenge the status quo. Like hey I'm gonna wear this color because it's a really gross color except now it's cool, and I'm going to wear this post office uniform with pink fur slippers, and a string of pearls - because, fashion. It's embracing the high-brow / low-brow combo, and being so unapologetic that it's pure defiance.

    • Embrace the ugly. If you're trying to control the outcome and avoid making something that doesn't look good, you're creating a huge block for yourself. It's hard to be open to letting
      anything happen but that's the only way to access "playing!" I think the creative process is over-glamorized, I personally don't really identify with it, so don't feel like there needs to be this special magical way that everything happens. You can just create stuff because you want to.

    • Animations!!!! I love dance and music, so animation is such a cool way to make designs dance and come to life. You can see my first animation here:

      And I have a stop-motion one in the works. I'd love to create trippy motion graphics for on-stage screens at concerts. I also want my designs to be vinyl-wrapped on cars, and I've always wanted to design wallpaper but haven't yet! And there's more - I want to design crazy
      immersive-experience installations at music festivals.

    • Very clear tasks ahead!!! That's the best way I've found to stay productive so I don't spend so much time deciding what to do. Or worrying about how much I have to do. Motivation is similar, I like to review what I'm going for in my life - OFTEN. This helps break things down into priorities and clear steps. As for creativity, music or being around other people are good ways to help break the robotic stuck vibes.