Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Carol Van Zandt

How is it that you came to be a designer?
Well, I had a sort of moment in 2004 in Tokyo when I was schlepping my paintings in and out of taxicabs between my apartment, the framer, and the exhibition space getting ready for one of my last solo shows there.  I just kind of thought to myself jokingly that it was time to go digital.  Then the next several months I really started taking to the idea. I didn't get the chance to really do that due to another stint in another country with my husband, but when we returned stateside, I started taking courses in Illustrator and Photoshop and textile and print design.  And that eventually led me down the path to art licensing.
Did you go to Art School?
Yes, I majored in Studio Art at Boston College and then took graduate and continuing courses at Massachusetts College of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Radcliffe Pottery Studio, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts…and the list goes on!  I learned that if I took one course at an art school, I had access to the studio 24/7, so I was able to produce after my BA with minimal investment while contributing to a learning environment.  At one point I worked thirty-five hours a week in a clinic, and worked another 35 at the studio where I signed up for just one class.  And my work was selling well in a gallery out of state. The studio, my job, and apartment were all walking distance to Harvard Square. Good times. Later on I studied Japanese Calligraphy and sumi painting seriously for ten years and then I studied surface design at The Institute for Textile Print Design. I loved studying through formal courses. BUT I know many self taught artists who do amazing work.  Everyone has a different path this way.  In art and in business, results are what counts. 
What inspires you now?
What is funny now versus in my abstract painting days is that I always notice things around me that would make a good motif.  So I am always motif hunting. I am inspired by both ordinary objects and nature, and color from everywhere. And design of all kinds for all product.  Interestingly enough I really enjoy following industrial design. 
Is there anything you would like to share regarding your technique or style of work for instance what types of medium do you like to work with? 
I love to draw using pen and ink.  I also paint in a few styles. One is Japanese sumi-style where it is all about the brush stroke.  I  like western watercolor, which I also taught for three years to textile design students. But when it comes down to it, my tool of choice is Adobe Illustrator. The ability to change colors and scale in a vector program makes it so versatile for design.  I just work from my drawings to keep the hand drawn quality of the line.  I do use photoshop too when I am using my watercolors or sumi painting for motifs.  
What types of markets do you do art and design for?
I'm an equal opportunity artist and designer!!  Like many artists, I would love to see my designs on as many products as possible. I think in the beginning I was targeting more textile and home decor oriented applications, but I have a lot of design collections now for paper and stationary, party and gift .
Do you do other things regarding art like teaching, or classroom visits?
Yes, I dip my hands into many things or accept invitations to do so when they come up. For several years I taught some painting to young children in my studio.  I've juried some shows, and also organized group exhibitions. I taught botanical watercolor and drybrush painting workshops for three years at The Institute for Textile Print Design.  Recently I was invited to speak about fabric design on a panel put on by the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild and at the Surtex conference program where I will be on "the In Depth Look at Art Licensing Basics" panel on Sunday the 19th from 11-12:30. In general at the moment I only have the bandwidth for occasional outside gigs. Art Licensing is certainly a full time job!
Are here other creative interests you pursue like writing or music?
I'm kind of all art all the way.  For pleasure and not for sale, I like to do Japanese calligraphy. I have also started to do improvisational quilting--for pleasure only, though I was inspired by the community of quilters especially modern quilters that I came to know though my fabric lines. 

Do you currently have products with your images on the market? Books, gifts or home products?  
I have cotton fabric collections, greeting card collections and soon gift wrap and notebooks, a kitchen textile collection, and skins for all sorts of electronics. My work is also on bedding, mat board, pillows and wallpaper, a book cover, and a variety of accessories.  I also rent out my fine art paintings.  There will be plenty more soon if all goes well! 
What is the thing you love best about what you do?
I love to create of course! I also like that what I create actually gets put on products that people use.  I love to network and work with manufacturers and retailers, and other artists and designers.  Though I love my quiet time in the studio and office, I am always up for the real world of commerce and a big community.

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