HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:
Hello! My name is Courtney Capone and I am a surface designer/illustrator living in Queens, NY. I work as a graphic designer by day, and spend my nights drawing, creating patterns and watching tv with my cat, Catface.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE SURFACE PATTERN DESIGNER/ILLUSTRATOR?
I did not know that being a surface designer/illustrator was a job option until recently! I always liked art when I was younger, I was always the kid getting in trouble for doodling in class instead of paying attention. I thought that the only way to be an "artist" as a career was to be a fine artist, and I thought being a fine artist was limited to being able to draw or paint photo-realistically, so I reluctantly gave up on that dream. After college, while working an un-inspiring desk job, I discovered graphic design and went back to school. It was actually in my design program that I learned about the wonderful world of pattern design and fell in love.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY/WEEK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I do my graphic design job during the day and when I get home I settle in for some sketching/ideation. I try to do this every night, for a half an hour at least, just to make sure I keep my creativity flowing. When I don't have any freelance work coming in I like to give myself challenges, like posting a pattern a day to Instagram for 100 days. I find that these keep me accountable and challenge me to try new styles and techniques. I recently started working with print studio as a freelancer so most of the art i'm working on at the moment is for them. I'm also trying to open my own Etsy shop, so lately i've been working on figuring out which products are the best fit for my designs!
IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
It would be to have confidence in myself! I feel like I lost a lot of time by thinking I wasn't "good enough", and it seems very silly to me now.
WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?
Usually by getting up and doing something else! I find that stepping away from the project, even just for a few hours, usually does wonders for me. I like to take that time and take a walk, cook a meal, or spend time working on a separate creative project (i've just started to learn how to use my sewing machine, finally!)
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?
Big, inexpensive sketchbooks or a stack of copy paper, 6B pencils, any smooth inky pen I can get my hands on, and Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS?
My design process usually begins with a concept or theme. I think about what I want to convey with my patterns and what look and feel I want to capture. Sometimes I create a moodboard if it's a big project. Then I just draw! I just draw motifs without judging, and just try to create as much as a I can within the theme. For example if i'm drawing Unicorns, I draw them in lots of different shapes and styles and then I start to draw things that could live with them in a pattern, like flowers or rainbows, etc. Once I feel like I've drawn all I can , I go through and pick the motifs I like the best and take pictures with my phone. Then I open the pictures on my ipad and trace with a sketch program so that they are vectorized. I then open them on my desktop where I can manipulate them in Illustrator or Photoshop depending on the effect I'm going for. Once I have the layout set, I start to play with color. I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to color palettes and I like to play around with options until I land on something I love.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?
I did a really fun job for a client who makes nutrition bars for pregnant women, I really enjoyed working on the patterns for that one! There are also a few one-off pattern's I've created that I really enjoy because I think they are fun. Lately i've been trying out a new style and I like a lot of that stuff as well even though its different from the way I normally work.
WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?
I would love to design patterns that get used on products for Land of Nod!! I love their aesthetic and it would be so cool for my work to be available on such cute stuff. I would also love to do an entire home line for Target!
THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?
A pencil, a sketchbook and a smoothy, inky pen.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
I am very inspired by things that are unusual. I love a weird flower, or an interesting rock formation, or even a very alien looking insect! Nature is the first go-to for me but I also really enjoy looking at vintage packaging, illustrations and advertisements.
WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?
That's a hard question! I recently discovered the work for Josef Frank and fell completely in love! Close second are not individual designers, but I am endlessly inspired by Marimekko and Liberty of London.