Designer Spotlight: Diane Sullivan

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

Hello, I am Diane Sullivan.  I have been working as a clinical social worker for about 30 years.  I live in the Finger Lakes region of NY, where I am surrounded by water and hills and lots of green pastures!  I took up pattern design about a year and a half ago.  I have sewn my own clothing and home decor products since I was quite young, and took up quilting in my early 20's. Surface pattern design became a passion after I took an online class and I couldn't stop!!

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY/WEEK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

A typical day when I am not working at my private practice is to get up and have my coffee while writing down all of the creative energy ideas floating around in my brain.  I am most creative first thing in the AM and often wake full of ideas.  So I write them all down, no matter how crazy they might seem, and come back to them later to tease out which of those ideas to develop further.   I then do a little creative reading before I jump into working on patterns.  My days and weeks are defined by ultimate goals I wish to accomplish throughout the year, which are then broken up into which projects for which months, and then each month is broken into weeks with concrete action steps for each week to be able to accomplish my goals.  This is how I prepared for Surtex and it has worked for me as a way of propelling myself forward in my surface design goals.  On my work days, I find time at sketch in between clients, and often am often creating patterns into the night. I am an early riser, so my energy is best in the AM.  

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

If I were 10 years younger I would tell myself to pay closer attention to my creative voice and make it a priority,  to make space every single day to do something creative.  

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

When I feels stuck or in a rut, I go outside into nature, which is my biggest inspiration. I love the changing seasons.  I usually have my camera and my sketch pad with me at all times.  I recently began playing with watercolors, so I imagine that will become part of my traveling "toolbox."  I look at design magazines, I talk to other creatives, I switch up projects that I am working on, or change mediums and I am always game for learning something new.  These are all ways in which I keep myself fresh, challenged and growing in my work. 

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

My favorite design tools are my sketchpad and markers.  I have recently begun playing with watercolors and I imagine that will become part of my design work as well.  I work in Ai, but am determined to learn Photoshop as well to have room to work with some of my newer ideas. 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? 

Most often, I sketch motifs without thought to what they will become or how they will be used.  Then I begin a design by putting together different motifs to create a pattern.  More recently, I'm beginning to work with the idea of a word or an idea, writing down associations I have with that word and creating a story by putting all of the together in a design or illustration.  I recently purchased an iPad Pro, so I now learning to use some of those apps, e.g. Procreate, Adobe Sketch, but I often still come back to my sketchpad as the place I started.  I like each for different reasons.

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

My dream is to design fabric collections for quilting and home decor projects.  I would love to see some of my designs on upholstery fabrics, wall paper, and home decor products.

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

My 3 design tools - my markers, sketchpad and my watercolors.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

Nature is my greatest inspiration.  I spend as much time outdoors as possible, and I love the changing seasons, yes, including the winter!  And gardening is one of my many hobbies, so florals usually make their way into my work as well. 

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

Amy Butler, Kaffe Fassett, Abigail Borg are a few of my favorite designers.  I love the work of Martha Armitage.  

WHEN I'M LONG GONE:

I would love for people to remember me for my love of color and nature-inspired design work and my insatiable need to learn new things. 

Where you can find me:

http://www.dianesullivandesigns.com,

https://www.instagram.com/dianesullivandesigns/

https://www.facebook.com/DianeSullivanDesigns/