Today we have an interview with the incredibly talented Jenean Morrison! Jenean designs for FreeSpirit and her new collection, Beechwood Park, is now in stock. Read on to find out more about Jenean, her inspiration, all of the lovely places her designs appear and the massive stash-builder collection she has coming out later this year!
The Village Haberdashery: You’ve said that your new collection, Beechwood Park, encapsulates your perfect summer. Do you have any favourite summer memories that inspired this collection?
Jenean Morrison: I spent a lot of time at the lake during the summers when I was growing up in the 70s in Oklahoma. Just about every weekend our family would drive to Lake Texhoma (on the Oklahoma/Texas border), and we would spend the weekend camping out. We swam, skied, rode around in the boat, cooked out, slept in tents, explored, and had some wonderful family time. I don’t think that, back then, I thought of it as “wonderful family time”, but looking back on it now that is exactly what it was. Summers were great when I was a kid. Because you were out of school, summer was a very special time, a time to play and celebrate! These days, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference for me between summer and the rest of the year. As I’m writing this I’m realizing that I might be time for a summer vacation with my husband!
TVH: What is your process for designing your collections? How does it get from your head to the finished design?
JM: It is different for every collection, but for this collection I knew I wanted something very bold, graphic, retro and most importantly, fun! “Picnic” was the first print in the collection. The design motifs are large, but they are filled with small elements. I love doing something on a large scale that can still easily be cut up and used in small projects or quilts. Every other print in the collection, with the exception of “Rendezvous”, was created by pulling elements from that one print. Often times, once I’ve created the focal print, the other designs fall easily in place. I created a unique stripe in the design “Solstice”. And I knew I wanted to include some small dots in this collection in the print “Holiday”. I put the designs side by side on my design wall and think about how people might use them. “Reunion” was one of the last prints I added, and I added it and “Rendezvous” to add some space and breathing room in the collection.
TVH: The collection includes three very distinct colourways. How do you choose your colours?
JM: For this collection, I wanted to try some different things. I often go pretty soft on the colors, yet the designs in Beechwood Park called for bold, strong colors. Pinks and greens are often my go-to colors, so that colorway was easy. I just punched up the intensity a little from the shades I usually choose. The red and blue colorway reminded me of summer. My birthday falls on July 2nd, which is close to Independence Day. There are always big celebrations featuring red, white and blue around that time of year, and growing up my birthday cakes often contained lots of Fourth of July imagery and colors. The purple colorway was an attempt to push myself beyond my comfort zone. In all the collections I’ve done for Free Spirit– this being my ninth– I’d never used purple. I challenged myself to face my fear of purple, and I love the way it turned out!
TVH: If I remember correctly, you don’t actually sew! What are your favourite no-sew projects to make with your fabric?
JM: I have taken a quilting class, and my sewing skills have improved over the years. But you are right, whenever I break out the sewing machine I make sure my mom is close by in case I need help! I love to do simple, easy decoupage projects– you can glue fabric to anything you want and it gives it a whole new look! I’ve done picture frames, furniture, and (my all-time favorite project) a bike!
TVH: You license your designs for a wide range of different products. What is the most exciting or interesting surface your designs have appeared on?
JM: I love having my designs on fabric because it is just the beginning of the process. Some things, such as journals and stationery, are fun to have my designs on, but those are the end products. With fabric, it has a life beyond just the original product. Creative people buy it and do amazing things with it! I get to see the fabric transformed and used in ways I could never imagine. It is very exciting! Probably my next favorite product these days is wallpaper. It is so cool to me to have people use my designs to decorate an entire wall (or walls) in their homes!
TVH: What are you working on next?
JM: I have two new fabric collections coming out for Free Spirit in October, and I recently turned in a collection which will be coming out in May of 2014. For the October collections, one is called Wishing Well. It features primarily small-scale prints in a very sweet palette. The other collection is a collection of basics that run the entire spectrum of colors. It is 20 prints, each one in a different color. They will be wonderful stash builders, for sure! I also just designed and released my second coloring book in my Pattern and Design Coloring Book series. I released the first one this past August, and the response was so kind that I am happy to continue the series. The coloring books are a true joy to create. The imagery includes repeat patterns (many which come directly from my fabric prints), and it gives people a chance to color my designs any way the want. I’ve had so much fun with them that I plan to do many more!
Thank you Jenean!