Designer Spotlight: Heather Rosas

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

Hello! I'm Heather Rosas. I'm a surface pattern designer and illustrator. Most of my work is for the Children's and Baby Markets, but I'd like to start expanding into other markets as well. I started out in college as an Architecture Major, but after two years I became much more interested in Graphic Design. I ended up transferring to the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston majoring in Graphic Design. I always wanted to focus on the Children's Market, and I ended up getting a job as a designer at a children's novelty publisher called Intervisual Books. After that I moved on to Mattel and worked in the creative department for Barbie Consumer Products. I learned all about licensing there, so when I decided to license my own artwork, I had bit of a background. I've been doing this for about 6 years now. I live in Southern California with my husband, two children, three guinea pigs, one dog, and one fish. So, I'm never bored!

HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE SURFACE PATTERN DESIGNER/ILLUSTRATOR?

Actually, I had never heard of a pattern designer until I became one! We didn't have that major at the college I went to, so it never occurred to me. At BCP, I was on the team that would design the Barbie style guides that the licensees would use to design product with. We would work with trend experts, fashion designers, and illustrators and come up with collections that had icons, patterns, borders, illustrations and photographs of the doll. I really enjoyed that part of the job and it's pretty much what I do everyday now.

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

After I bring my kids to school and walk my dog, I have a quick breakfast and try to dive right in to my workday. I have a much shorter day than I'd like (usually 9 to 3), because of all my responsibilities at home. I have to get used of lots of interruptions. I also do a lot of waiting in my life.... waiting at ballet lessons, basketball practices, piano lessons.... so I always have a sketchbook and pens and pencils with me. When I get a few hours to work, I have to really focus to use the time wisely. I try to have one main goal everyday. It has to be very specific, not "work on art". More like: sketch 10 icons for new collection or research inspiration, reference, and color palette today. Sometimes after I get the kids to bed and if I have the energy I might do a little work at night, but honestly, most of the time I'm wiped out!

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

I would say, don't put so much pressure on yourself! Little by little, work on your goals, but remember to take care of yourself, too. This is a long term career and if you work a little everyday you will accomplish a lot after a few years.

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

I would look at some of my favorite stores and artists and see what they are doing. Read some of my favorite blogs. Spend some time on Pinterest. Look at some vintage children's books. Try out a new art medium. Take an online class. Basically just play and not put pressure on myself to make something that's going to licensed right away! But to be honest, my problem more often is not having enough time to accomplish everything I want to try out. That is something I haven't solved yet!

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

I use Illustrator the most, but I love Photoshop too and have been taking some online classes to learn more. Right now I'm trying out cut paper, and that's really fun because it takes me away from the computer (but quite messy!). I also love painting with gouache and watercolor, but I'm still learning and experimenting. 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? 

If I'm starting on a new collection, I start out with research. I'll make a Pinterest board for the collection and pin reference photographs, color palettes, inspirational art from history and present time. I'll try to see what's trending right now. Maybe different ideas on how to add texture. Even products that I might imagine the collection being used for. This gives me a place to start. Then I will spend a couple of days just on sketching. Sketching from reference, sketching from imagination, experimenting. Maybe sketching with cut paper or black ink or gouache. The next step is usually inking the best sketches, scanning them, and turning them to vectors in Illustrator with live trace. Then lots of time experimenting with color. Next I'll put some pattern repeats together and make some digital mock-ups with Photoshop. I've found that putting the extra time to put together a mock-up really pays off, rather than just showing a pattern. I usually just purchase the mock-ups from Creative Market or Design Cuts, because my time is so limited.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

I have a couple projects that stand out for me. I did a Holiday Collection with CR Gibson a few years ago. It was all produced with felt and hand-stitching. We still put the Christmas ornaments on our Christmas tree and hang up the Advent Calendar every year!

I was lucky enough to do a nursery decor collection. There was wall art, banks, nightlights, bibs, blankets, and picture frames. It was a woodland animal collection. My daughter still has the fox and owl bank on her shelf in her room.

I also did a greeting card with Design House Greetings. It was sold at Trader Joe's and I think between my Mom and my Aunt, every one of those cards in the Santa Barbara area Trader Joe's was bought by one of them! 

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

I would LOVE to do a bedding collection with Land of Nod! 

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

Oh no! That would be terrible! I would say: pencil, sketchbook, Illustrator.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

Pinterest, Instagram, nature, vintage children's books, art history.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

I love Charley Harper. So ahead of his time. His art looks current and modern and relevant and yet is 60 years old! Amazing!

WHEN I'M LONG GONE:

I hope people remember me as a great wife and Mommy. I love making art and I think it's important for everyone to have their own passion, but my husband and children always come first.

Where you can find me:

web: www.heatherrosas.com
instagram: @heatherrosasart
facebook: www.facebook.com/heatherrosasillustration
pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/heatherrosasart/