As a graphic designer I am intrigued by Art Deco design, especially fabric patterns of the period. For my senior study, I have created a series of fabric designs representative of the Art Deco period. Each of the five designs is inspired by pieces of vintage fabric that date later than the Deco period, yet each contain some element that relates to the style of the period. In my designs, I have taken the Deco elements found in each inspiration fabric and created my own Art Deco patterns. I have relied heavily on reference materials concerning Art Deco textile designs to guide my translation of each pattern. Not only did I research the design history and aesthetic of Art Deco textile design, my study also included a review of the printing process of fabric design. In addition to the creative design process of this project, I was also responsible for overseeing the screen-printing of each design. Through this project I have been able to learn the process of fabric production from beginning to end.
Hometown: : Lenoir City, TN
Senior Study Title: “Art Deco Fabric Design”
Advisor: Adrienne Schwarte, Assistant Professor of Art
In addition to a bound book of original research completed at the end of her Senior Study requirement, Ashley Hubbard '09 graduated with fabric of her own design.
Hubbard, an art major, studied Art Deco style in-depth and designed patterns for textile that incorporated key Deco elements. She then worked with a screen printer to get her designs transferred to fabric.
As a freshman and sophomore at the College, Hubbard never dreamed of such an accomplishment. In fact, for a couple of years, she hated to think about that requirement for graduation – sure that it would be too daunting a task for her to ever complete.
But once she chose her topic and went to work, Hubbard became excited about where her Senior Study could take her. And she realized that she was up to the challenge.
A longtime fan of the Art Deco style, Hubbard said she is intrigued and inspired by the characteristics of that design movement that emerged in the 1920s and lasted through the 1940s: straight lines, geometric shapes, rich colors, expensive and exotic materials, “machine aesthetics.”
She likes to shop thrift and antique stores for pieces that showcase some of the elements. Among her favorite finds are fabrics from that time period.
Closely studying a few of those fabrics (which she believed to be old quilting scraps that dated to around the time of the Second World War), Hubbard decided that, for her Senior Study, she would take those “inspiration fabrics” (which were not wholly Art Deco examples), identify the Art Deco influence in each and incorporate those elements into new patterns that are more Art Deco in their representation than the original inspiration fabrics.
Advisor Adrienne Schwarte, assistant professor of art, was impressed by Hubbard's idea.
“Ashley is the first student I have advised at Maryville College who was interested in studying a specific design movement and replicating it with new and contemporary patterns that still held the original visual aesthetic of the period work,” Schwarte said. “Her study was well-planned.”
The professor said Art Deco is one of her “favorite periods of design history.” Studying it as an undergraduate and graduate student, she visited buildings and interiors synonymous with the design, but Hubbard's study gave Schwarte an opportunity to singularly study the aspect of pattern as it relates to Art Deco.
“I found myself learning more about the color combinations and the intricate geometric patterning that is uniquely Art Deco,” Schwarte said.
Using Adobe Illustrator and relying heavily on reference materials concerning Art Deco textiles design and Schwarte's direction, Hubbard ultimately designed – or “translated” – five original floral-themed patterns.
“At the peak of Art Deco, over half the fabric designs produced depicted floral
imagery, most of which was treated geometrically,” she explained. “Art Deco, which was known then as Moderne,' broke away from the flourishes of its contemporary design movements such as Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts and other such organic and flowing representations of nature. It replaced complex curving lines with geometric shapes and angles.”
Hubbard said she was stretched in many ways throughout the Senior Study experience. The biggest challenge was making sure that her designs were strong representations of Art Deco style.
Hubbard's cousin owns Red Letter 9, a Christian T-shirt company based in Tallahassee, Fla., and she went to him to help get her designs screen-printed by hand onto cotton muslin. Observing that process was an invaluable learning experience.
“Someday I want to own my own business where I design and sell fabrics and other textiles,” Hubbard said. “I think this [Senior Study] experience was very good for me because it is exactly what I am interested in doing as a career. My experience with this thesis has proven that designing and printing fabrics is something I enjoy and is an achievable goal for me.”
Hubbard added that the study has been a great confidence- and portfolio-builder and gives her an advantage over other applicants when she interviews for jobs.
“When I started my thesis, the only aspect of the project that I was familiar with was the graphic design part of it. I knew how to use the design software necessary for creating the designs, and that was the extent of it,” she said. “I had never before created a series of work, designed patterns, screen-printed fabrics or put together a gallery show.”
Schwarte was so pleased with the outcome that she recommended it for the College's permanent library collection.
“All of the elements in Ashley's Senior Study were unified and created a complete package that should be evident in any successful senior project,” the professor said.
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