Our designer interview today is with Yvette Marie Jones, who works as a freelance designer in art licensing and graphic design and also has her own line of quilting, sewing and embroidery patterns.
Do you remember the first piece of work you ever sold? What was it and who did you sell it to? How did you feel?
My first art licensing deal was with with P&B Textiles. I attended the International Quilt Market to show my portfolio to fabric manufacturers and make some contacts. They reviewed my portfolio and asked to sign me on the spot. I walked away from that meeting in disbelief, but it was soon followed by elation and a sense of validation that I could be successful in the surface pattern industry.
Can you describe the evolution of your business?
I first found my passion for design at the young age of 13 and have never looked back! I’ve been a graphic designer for the past 20 years, working both in design firms and as a freelancer. A few years ago I started helping my mom, Marian Gallian of Pink Hippo Quilts, design quilts for fabric manufacturers to show at Quilt Market. Through this I was introduced to the world of art licensing and surface pattern design. I decided to delve into this world and started my brand Vetmari (pronounced Vet•Marie). I began with a focus on creating fabric collections and brought my portfolio to show to manufacturers at the International Quilt Market. I was lucky enough to land a deal to create my first fabric collection with P&B Textiles and have since also become a licensed designer with Shibumi Home and I’m co-authoring my first book with C&T Publishing.
What has been the most important lesson you have learned along the way?
Make personal contacts. Getting in front of the right people, in person, is the fastest and easiest way to grow your business. Find the right trade shows for your audience and set up appointments to meet with art directors and buyers. It’s a scary proposition, especially for an introverted artist like me, but you just have to give yourself a pep talk and go for it!
Where does the inspiration for your designs come from?
I love to build on themes and research antique and vintage motifs and put my own spin on them to make them fresh and modern. I’m especially drawn to antique French designs for their romanticism and soft color palettes, but I also love the graphic, geometric qualities of the Art Deco and Art Nouveau eras.
What makes you excited about your business now?
My fabric collection “Fontaine” with P&B Textiles came out this past January and I started a line of quilt and sewing patterns. I also just finished wrapping up my first quilting book with C&T Publishing and I’m looking forward to the release of that in the Spring of 2016.
What is your creative space like?
My creative space is full of design and craft books, artwork, found objects, fabric, sewing supplies and most importantly my Mac. I have every tool I need to be creative, but my space is currently a spare bedroom in our house and is just plain full!
What advice would you give to an emerging designer looking to follow a similar path to you?
Begin by fine tuning your craft and style and building a professional portfolio. I would keep one or two target industries in mind as you’re starting, such as fabric, greeting cards or wall art. Participate in the design community, which is why I love taking the Make it in Design courses, and create an online and social media presence. Make contacts and attend trade shows to put yourself out there. Getting your first licensing deal or selling your first piece of artwork is the hardest part, but once you do keep creating and building on your success! Finally, remember the licensing world is a slow moving beast so have patience and realise it will take 2-3 years before things really start rolling.
What tips can you offer other mothers trying to juggle life, family and creating a career in design?
That’s the million dollar question! Just like juggling it’s all about timing, hard work and persistence. Schedule in time for your work and put it on your calendar or it will get reprioritized. Set realistic goals and deadlines for yourself to create new work. For example, last year I set a goal to put out a new pattern collection each month in a look book. It was a great motivational tool for me and helped me build my portfolio. But most importantly, always reassess your commitments and adjust your work schedule and goals to fit. The demands on our time ebb and flow and we all know that as a working mom, work is not your number 1 priority.
What is the big dream for you as a designer and your business? What’s next?
My dream is to have my artwork on a home décor collection in a national retail store like West Elm, Pottery Barn or Target. To get there I plan to keep building my portfolio, display at Surtex, and build the Vetmari brand one licensing deal at a time.
If you were a pattern what kind of a pattern would you be and why?
I would be a very modern, organic and intricate floral pattern in metallics and soft, subtle hues.
Yvette Marie Jones is the designer behind the Vetmari brand. Her approach to design is sophisticated simplicity with a vintage modern flair. Yvette works as a freelance designer in art licensing and graphic design and also has her own line of quilting, sewing and embroidery patterns. Her debut fabric collection, “Fontaine” with P&B Textiles, was released in January of 2015 and her first quilting book is due out in the Spring of 2015 with C&T Publishing’s Stash Books division. Yvette’s work has been featured in national design and quilting magazines as well as on the Print & Pattern and Pattern Observer blogs.