Welcome to the Halloween edition of our Meet the Designer series! This week, we’re showcasing the frighteningly adorable designs of Johanna Parker. Tucked between Denver and the Rocky Mountains, Johanna lives in Lakewood, Colorado with her husband and black cat, Jack, in what looks to us as the perfect fairytale-like home prime for inspiration. Not only is Johanna a fabric designer and illustrator, but she also makes papier-mâché sculptures reminiscent of vintage Halloween decoration. Grab a handful of Halloween candy and nestle in because we’re so thrilled to share this spirited interview with you!
My day starts with:
“The happy sound of purring from our black cat, Jack. He’s always excited when we wake! Then, that rolling list of creative to-do’s switches on. A hot cup of black coffee or tea and perhaps a piece of dark chocolate helps to kick-start the day.”
When I’m in my studio, I feel:
“Like I’m in my inherent space. Perhaps it’s my escape to a more whimsical world where black cats wear conical hats and grin from ear to ear, but it’s therapy, and I rarely go one day without making something. Whether it’s a folk art sculpture or a new pattern created on the computer, I’m driven to create and spend most of each day in my various workspaces throughout our home.”
Who or what influences or inspires your work and why?
“For me, inspiration starts with the wild, ever-changing garden wonderland that we have grown around our cottage home which offers endless visits from an intriguing cast of nature’s characters. Novelties from Halloween’s past are also an inspiration, and I am drawn to the flowing lines and compositions from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements. My Halloween birthday also plays into the obvious theme of orange and black that haunts me, creeping into my art almost every day! Enthusiastic fans of my work continue to influence me with various requests as well as visions to crossover my licensed figurine and ceramic collectibles onto my surface designs.”
My proudest accomplishment over the last year:
“Launching our new website this past June! We’ve talked about doing this for years, and finally, I carved out about a month’s worth of time to dedicate to the effort. The response has been amazing, and given the feedback and inquiries we’ve received since the launch, I feel like we’ve opened our door! I am thrilled to have a place to share samples of my portfolio as well as a page dedicated to my Spoonflower designs!”
What piece of your wardrobe best represents your style?
“Well as a bit of an artist hermit, I more often than not am wearing an apron! One is for painting, one is for sculpting and the other is for gluing and mixing my papier mâché. With that said, it’s about time I have a sewist make me a new, more fashionable apron featuring some of my Spoonflower fabrics!”
Before starting a small business, I wish someone had told me:
“To really consider my use of space. Working from a small cottage home has had its challenges, and we have moved my studio space 3 times! Having a crystal ball or perhaps some sage words regarding growth in a home-based shop, would have been helpful before we jumped in. On the other hand, the journey also makes for a more interesting story.”
What’s in your toolbox as a maker?
“Oh my… Any given day can easily include a pencil and a sketchpad, Celluclay and sculpting tools, paintbrushes and paint, cameras and lenses as well as hours at the computer, designing patterns in Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop. It’s a real mixed bag, or this case – toolbox!”
How does Spoonflower meet your business needs?
“Launching my shop on Spoonflower has opened new creative outlets for me! New connections to fellow makers are blossoming, fresh licensing opportunities are in the works, and I’m so thrilled to finally have a place for fans to collect my textiles! What brings me the most joy is knowing that there are creative people making amazing art with my patterns. This inspires me to no end.”
What has been an important resource to you as a small business owner and why?
“Partnering with my husband to create our business team has been an insightful way to bounce off ideas and broaden my perspective on small business decisions. They say “opposites attract”, so his analytical mind and technical skills help to balance my more whimsical imagination and impulsive spirit. With that said, we don’t always see eye to eye, but I find myself reexamining my choices more thoroughly after we have shared our ideas and perspectives.”
My favorite Spoonflower textile to work with is:
“That’s still a mystery because my shop is young and I have much more to explore. I value the feedback from the makers that purchase my prints on various textiles, so please share your experiences with me by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org!”
Just in time for Halloween, head over to Sprout Patterns to pick up Johanna’s Trick-Or-Treat reversible tote just like the one above. Bonus: You can sew this one up in just an hour or two!
Johanna Parker’s design specialty may be friendly Halloween, but she also has a Collection of Christmas fabrics that are perfect for DIY stockings. Keep in touch with Johanna by visiting her website and following her on Instagram, too!