[All images courtesy of Thomas Knauer. Patterns for these projects are available for purchase from Thomas' shop]
Hi everyone. I have one more designer interview to share from Quilt Market — and today, it is the incredibly awesome Thomas Knauer.
Thomas is celebrating his debut with Andover Fabrics. I had the good fortune to be sitting next to him at the Andover sales meeting, and he made me feel instantly at home. Thomas is one of the most enthusiastic and generous people I’ve met to date. (Not just in the fabric/quilting industry, but in life — so if you haven’t connected with Thomas yet, I encourage you to head over to his site now.) Pear Tree, his first line, is in stores now, and Thomas is on a roll with two more lines, Flock and Savanna Bop, coming up next.
I really enjoyed his answers (especially to question #3) and hope that you do as well.
What are you most excited to be showing off at this show?
Phew! That’s a questions and a half. Since this is my first Market with anything to actually show off to the world I kinda want to say everything!!! But I’ll be good and will narrow things down. While I love Pear Tree (how could I not love my first line) and all the quilts and pillows I’ve made from it, I think I am most excited to be debuting Flock. I really feel like I am getting close to the fabric I see in my head with this one. I know, one might think that if I see fabric in my head it should be easy to get it down on paper, but it isn’t for me. The thing about the way I see things in my head is that it is rarely visual; it is more often a description accompanied by a feeling. Perhaps I shouldn’t call it seeing things in my head, but calling my designs the things I read or hear in my head just sounds crazy. Anyway, Flock feel so personal to me for some reason, and I am so happy with how it has turned out. It really feels like bits of me on cloth.
What keeps you inspired?
Oi! Another tough one. Inspiration is a tough concept for me. I rarely think of myself as being inspired; I think of myself more as a grinder. My entire career I’ve had to work at being creative. It is more a mental effort than a visual one. Ideas rarely come to me; I feel around in the dark corners of my brain for them and eventually find the kernels of ideas in the mess. Then I work them over again and again. If anything I’d say that process is what keeps me inspired. Oh, and of course my amazing daughter. So much of what I design is so I can make stuff for her out of it.
What advice would you give to someone else who wants to pursue their own creative dream?
Make more. Seriously, that’s it. That was how I taught design back in my professorial days, and that is how I continue my practice now. I have enough designs in reserve right now to do at least four more lines (if I added a few new ones for continuity within each collection). When I first sent designs off to Andover I had three complete collections, two of which are thankfully on the trash pile. I’m pretty sure I could rework those two lines into good collections, but my interests have already shifted. Pear Tree just shipped and I am already finalizing my fourth and fifth collections. And working on sketches for numbers six and seven. Make more; you can always hold them back in reserve for those times when the ideas aren’t clicking, or let them sit for further revision (revision is always good, even if you end up going with the original version). But the main reason to make more is that it will help you get better. Between gallery, museum, academic, and now textiles I’ve been doing this for twenty years and I still see myself getting better every month. So, make more.
What has been the biggest surprise you’ve encountered when designing fabric and patterns?
The fact that people like what I’m doing. I’m not kidding.