Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge Day 3: Abstract

MAR 3, 2016

Today's Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge is brought to you by Tina Vey, known as Ottomanbrim in the Spoonflower Marketplace. Today, Tina gives us a closer look at how she incorporates elements of abstract art into her design process. Be sure to follow along on the blog and in your inbox (it's not too late to sign up) until March 15 as we feature a new technique each day, presented to you by members of our talented community of designers!

Franz Kline – Untitled, 1952. Source: Artnet

Tina: Whenever Spoonflower announces a new contest theme I think, "oh no, not another cute animal theme! How can I interpret this theme and design a fabric I would want to live with?" Whatever the subject of the contest may be I always try to convey the essence and rhythm of the object without it looking representational.  This can be quite difficult, so I study photos and write down words that convey the essence of the object. Then I draw and redraw simple shapes until I get something that looks fresh and appealing.  And as my husband’s art teacher Harvey Kurtzman said, "If you like it, push it even farther."

Stuart Davis – Premiere, 1957. Source: LACMA

Tina: I usually push myself to work and rework a composition hundreds of times. Of course, I throw a variety of textures into everything I do trying to make Illustrator do what Photoshop should be doing. Illustrator reluctantly does eventually do what I want but the color wheel spins so long I have ample time to do all my online shopping waiting for my changes to save.

Ottomanbrim – Funky Jazz. Source: Spoonflower

Tina: One of my favorite Spoonflower themes was ‘History of Jazz’ where I got to play with a lot of my favorite shapes inspired by a few of my favorite artists.

Inspired by Tina's process for creating abstract designs? We want to see! Be sure to tag your designs influenced by today's SpoonChallenge technique with #SFDesignADay on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!


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  • Great post Tina: thank you for sharing so many helpful tips and techniques. And your frustration with the software, trying “to make Illustrator do what Photoshop should be doing…” with the color wheel spinning so long that you “… have ample time to do all my online shopping waiting for my changes to save”!! Says it all really.

  • What a great post. I always look forward to see what you are going to do with some of these themes… Hmm, how is Tina going to interpret that one, OH she did it again! And its fabulous! 🙂
    And I do the same with illustrator, I just pretend it’s photoshop or indesign…

  • Thanks so much for all the nice comments Ceri, Sara, Amy and Karen! I really appreciate it.

  • Tina, I agree that the rhythm and texture in a design is all important. It is also interesting to hear how you write down thoughts and words along with fine tuning your design many times over. I tend to work in a similar way. What I admire about your work is that you can sense the creativity in your designs and how they have been honed to work on many levels.

  • Such a great post, Tina! Nothing like a prompt from one of my favorite artists to finally get me out of my comfort zone!

  • Thanks for sharing a little bit about your process Tina! I love Illustrator and frequently get the spinning color wheel while trying to add texture. I’m glad to know that you manage to make it work that way!