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  • Writer's pictureWraptious

Make it in Design Winner: Jackie Tahara

Updated: May 17, 2018

Our next winner from the Make It In Design competition was Jackie Tahara. We loved Jackie's bold designs (and we think they look great on our cushions!) 

Here's a little interview we did with Jackie where she tells us what's inspired her style and how she worked with our brief. 

Where do you call home?

In 2014, I moved to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, from the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii. Here, I founded UnBlink Studio, where I devote myself to learning, experimenting, drawing and designing.

How long have you been designing for? 

I have been a fine artist for years and years, most recently working in black ink, acrylics and cut paper collage, and selling original artwork and prints. I had always been curious about working digitally so in late 2013 I took the plunge, subscribed to Illustrator CC, and began teaching myself how to use that program. It was a eureka moment! I soon discovered there was a “thing” called Surface Pattern Design, and then I stumbled on the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design courses almost by chance, and began envisioning my designs on all kinds of products. I took the plunge again and signed up for the courses, and that was it! I now devote all my creative energy to creating surface pattern designs with the goal of carving out my own little recognizable-as-me design niche!

What inspires your work?

Much of my inspiration comes from the natural environment of Vancouver Island where I now live, surrounded by gardens, forest, sea and mountains. But I have also lived and travelled all over the world (and continue to travel and explore as much as possible), so a lot of my inspiration comes from what I have seen during my travels: Indian silk saris, Indonesian batiks and weavings, Japanese kimonos, Middle Eastern tile-work, Mexican folk art, temples, churches, colonial architecture, tropical fruits and flowers, farmers and artisan markets, coral reefs…the list goes on and on! I also get inspiration from vintage design of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, Scandinavian design, and from my hoard of art, design and travel books.

Which designers have influenced you?

I am in awe of historical designers who created intricate and beautiful patterns, such as William Morris and Josef Frank, and I am always amazed by the colours and intricacy of Michael Cailloux’s patterns. But I am mostly drawn to bold, simple and graphic designs. Some of my faves are Lisa Congdon, Sanna Annukka, Helen Dardik, Elizabeth Olwen, Jane Dixon and anything by Marimekko. I greatly admire how these artists are constantly producing amazing new designs, but always still retain their recognizable styles. This is something I am striving to achieve!

What advice could you give a designer just starting out?

One thing that I have learned, not just with designing but for life in general, is just to start and not look too far ahead. Take that small step, take the plunge, just keep learning and moving forward. It will go somewhere, maybe not always where you thought, but somewhere! Another tip: if you have any Type-A tendencies whatsoever (like I do), fight it when designing! I sometimes have to just let it go and leave a design alone for awhile…maybe forever…

What was your process for your competition entry?

In designing, I am constantly fighting the urge to over-complicate, to add more detail and lots of bright colour, to fill every empty space. Because the Wraptious brief asked for no more than 3 key colours, I used this as the starting point to try to create something simpler and as a result, more graphic. The brief also mentioned that we should be mindful of how the designs would look when viewed on a small scale, considering whether the theme would be easy to “understand”. My early versions of the designs were much more detailed; I then pared them down by removing some of the “clutter” until I got to what I thought was more the “essence” of the motifs. I also chose to keep my colour palette uncharacteristically subdued, by using neutrals as two of the three colours to contrast with the blue. I was surprised how the neutrals made the designs somehow more sophisticated and effective. This was a learning moment for me, something I now keep in mind whenever I create a new design!

In a dream world, what would you be designing?

Ideally, I would love to have several collections of bolt fabrics; a line of stationery with my patterns, including gift wrap, greeting cards, and journals; a range of housewares from wallpaper, rugs, upholstery and curtain fabrics, cushions and bed linens; and a collection for the kitchen, including aprons, tea towels, tablecloths and dishware. I would also really love to design stuffies and other toys! I can dream, right?! 

You can now purchase Jackie Tahara's lovely cushion designs through our online shop for a limited time. To see Jackie's full range of work, be sure to take a look at her website


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