For the last couple of years, I have been yearning and avoiding printing my own artwork for the shop. Yearning because I’ve been drawing and painting for years and my work is the perfect amount of weird and fun for kids and adults, avoiding because it means committing to a risk that is much higher than selecting from bolts of fabric printed with artwork I already like (Charley Harper’s work, specifically). The biggest thing that differentiates VT from other online boutiques is our vision of what gender “neutrality” looks like, though, and what has been happening in my brain is now so far from what has been happening in our real-life inventory that it’s time for a makeover.
The first print I have created is of my favorite cephalopod, the cuttlefish. This creature has the ability to change its skin’s color and texture, and uses this camouflage to hide itself from prey for mealtime and for mating. Males have been observed to change up their do like female cuttlefish to avoid being attacked by more aggressive males. Scientists have found that the female cuttlefish dig this, and it keeps the males alive. They swim using a wiggly, ripply wave of fin that encircles their bod, they can turn their eyeballs to look behind them, and their tongues are swift, absurd coils. I adore this monster.
The print was created with a gauche line painting in black. While I have admiration for clean, geometric art, it’s not how I feel inside and it’s not what I think of when I look at dribbling, chubby wobbling babies dancing and children flying across the park. Charley Harper’s work is minimalist and colorful—a combination I am captivated by, but does not come naturally by my own hand. It is likely I will occasionally source work of his when I am compelled, but potentially only for personal use instead of for our brand. His work, after all, is not exclusive to Velocitoddler.
How is this fabric printed?
The company I love to work with is called Spoonflower. Many people sewing for themselves browse oodles of designs offered by artists. Every month, a new challenge is offered for designers to compete in and users to vote on. It’s a company that allows people to print as small as a 5”x5” piece of fabric up to hundreds of yards. It is accessible to individuals or companies alike, their eco-friendly method of digital printing uses 100% biodegradable inks, and it feels good to buy from a company who does its work in the United States. As our business grows, we intend on continuing to source and work with USA businesses who keep their business here as much as we can. Because our textile milling industry took a serious dive a hundred years ago and has been mostly outsourced, many of our materials will continue to be imported, but we are committed to keeping manufacturing here. We have a local apparel manufacturer here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I cannot wait to see our growth reach a point to help support our local economy.
What is coming up?
The next print I am working on is a project that is heavily influenced by my kid: bats! It has been about six months of reading books about bats before bedtime. Did you know that their wings are actually hands, and they catch bugs in the air to toss them in their mouths? They eat half their weight in insects with every flight. Many of them are downright adorable, some have peculiar, buggy eyes, and they are the only mammal that can fly. This print will be one I am creating with gauche as well, but it will likely have only one colorway, unlike the cuttlefish in two (purple and blue).
What about basic clothing items?
Creating more unique pieces means I’m devoting less time to organic basics, but there are a bajillion of companies out there that offer solid organic clothing. Right now, I don’t mind those pieces taking a backseat to the fantastic creatures and scenes I am working on. This also means I get to only grab the fabrics that reach out and grab me first to make tonal clothing out of. Right now, I’ve got three unusual colors of corduroy that look like 1990s Nickelodeon and they pair energetically with the cuttlefish. They will be chopped into pants with a roomy crotch and legs, with elasticized ankles and waistband and huge important pockets. My kid calls them “comfy pants.” Pair a color of kiwi corduroys with a purple cuttlefish raglan and kid will look rad.
(insert picture of that combo ASAP!)