JAY MCCARROLL's initial claim to fame was his
win on the debut season of Project Runway, 2005-2006.
He continued in fashion design, the making of
one collection called "Transport",
being documented in the film "Eleven Minutes" in
2007.(that collection killed, btw, all of it. The wigs,
the jewelry, the huge yellow bag that I still want...)
He is now redefining fabric design under the name
"Free Spirit". His current incarnation of this
is called "Center City". I am so excited to have him here!
How would you compare working in fashion design and fabric design?
THEY ARE 2 VERY DIFFERENT BEASTS. FASHION DESIGN REQUIRES MANY MORE STEPS ON THE FRONT END AND BEHIND THE SCENES. A WHOLE SLEW OF PLANNING AND SOURCING OF FABRICS AND OTHER RELATED MATERIALS ALONG WITH THE PRODUCTION OF THE GARMENT TO PREPPING IT FOR THE WEBSITE OR SHIPPING TO A RETAIL OUTLET HAPPENS BEFORE THE GARMENT EVER LANDS ON THE HANGER. THEN AFTER IT GETS ON THE HANGER, ASIDE FROM A BUNCH OF ACCOUNTING AND INVENTORY ISSUES, YOU ARE BASICALLY HOME FREE AFTER THE CUSTOMER HAS PURCHASED AND IS ENJOYING IT.
IN THE FABRIC DESIGN WORLD THE PROCESS OF DESIGNING IS MORE PLAYFUL AND FUN IN THE BEGINNING AS YOU ARE BEING PURELY CREATIVE COMING UP WITH PATTERNS AND COLORS. THEN THE WAITING GAME BEGINS. IT REALLY DOES TAKE FOREVER TO GET A LINE TO THE POINT WHERE ITS ON THE SHELVES. A LOT OF BACK AND FORTH GETTING THE PRINTS JUST RIGHT AND THEN MORE WAITING. YOU THEN GET A FEW YARDS OF YOUR FABRIC AND THEN IT KICKS INTO HIGH GEAR WITH WHIPPING UP SAMPLES AND TRYING TO PROMOTE THE LINE TO AS MANY OUTLETS AS YOU CAN WHETHER IT BE USING SOCIAL MEDIA, OR TEACHING WORKSHOPS OR MAKING APPEARANCES AT FABRIC SHOPS.
BY OFFERING PEOPLE CLOTHING, THE SATISFACTION OF SEEING SOMEONE IN YOUR GARMENT HAPPENS INSTANTLY. WITH FABRIC, YOU HAVE TO WAIT A WHILE BEFORE YOU SEE IT TRICKLING IN ON SOCIAL MEDIA OR IN OTHER MEDIA OUTLETS. SOMETIMES YOU EVEN WAIT YEARS TO SEE A LITTLE BLOCK OF YOUR FABRIC IN A QUILT OF A THOUSAND BLOCKS. YOU KNOW THAT PEOPLE ARE BUYING IT, YOU JUST DONT KNOW HOW PEOPLE ARE USING IT. BUT WHEN YOU DO SEE IT USED BEAUTIFULLY IN A PROJECT, THERE IS NOTHING MORE SATISFYING. ITS GREAT TO BE ABLE TO PROVIDE A MEDIUM FOR WHICH PEOPLE CAN BE CREATIVE.
As there is so much about the fashion industry being difficult, are there aspects of fashion design that you are glad you don't have to deal with anymore?
I AM STILL VERY MUCH DESIGNING CLOTHES AND ACCESSORIES SO I CANT SAY THAT ANYTHING IS ANY LESS CHALLENGING THAN IT HAS EVER BEEN. IT IS CERTAINLY NOT AN INDUSTRY FOR THOSE WHO CANT UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF PICKING YOURSELF UP AND DUSTING YOURSELF OFF ABOUT EVERY FEW WEEKS.
I love your latest fabric collection, Center City (the "downtown" portion shown below).
Color and print are also my Holy Grail. You have one called "Portland" (bottom left), which is where I am from. What inspired those "globular" shapes?
THOSE SHAPES ARE ACTUALLY MEANT TO RESEMBLE TREES AS SEEN FROM ABOVE AS LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS RENDER THEM FOR URBAN SPACE PLANNING. A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ASKING ME WHAT THEY ARE AND EVERYONE SEEMS TO THINK THEY ARE SPORES OR RED BLOOD CELLS OR SOMETHING. WHILE THAT CONCEPT IS COOL, I THINK I EXPENDED MY ENERGIES ON KOOKY/CREEPY/GERMY ICONOGRAPHY ON MY "GERMANIA" LINE FROM A FEW YEARS BACK. I JUST RECENTLY NOTICED ANOTHER DESIGNER HAD THE SAME ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING IDEA. THE LINE IS CALLED ARCHITEXTURES BY CAROLYN FRIEDLANDER FOR ROBERT KAUFMAN. SHE ALSO DID A MAP PRINT LIKE MY "LOS ANGELES" PRINT. ITS COOL WHEN PEOPLE IN DESIGN ARE ON THE SAME WAVELENGTH.
"Portland in downtown" by Jay
"Architextures" by Carolyn Friedlander
In deciding on color, do you go by Pantone or do you choose colors you particularly like? or both?
I DONT REFER TO PANTONE, ALTHOUGH I REALLY LOVE THEM AESTHETICALLY; OR
TO ANY COLOR SYSTEM OR COLOR TRENDING OUTLET. I HAVE COLORS THAT I REALLY LOVE AND HAVE A TENDENCY TO ALWAYS GRAVITATE TOWARDS. NO MATTER HOW HARD I TRY TO FORCE MYSELF TO WORK WITH KELLY GREEN, IT JUST NEVER SEEMS TO WORK OUT. I LOVE PUKEY YELLOW GREEN AND IT SEEMS TO MAKE AN APPEARANCE IN EVERYTHING I DO. I REALLY DONT HAVE A FANCY WAY OF DOING THINGS. I HAVE COLLECTED ABOUT A MILLION PAINT SWATCHES FROM HOME DEPOT THAT I SCATTER ON A TABLE AND THEN START THE PROCESS OF COLOR COMBINING.
What is your designing process: which comes first? Do you do certain things to bring on inspiration?
I USUALLY HAVE SOME SORT OF INDICATION OF AN IDEA THAT I WANT TO PURSUE AND FROM THERE I START TO COLLECT PATTERN IDEAS FROM BOOKS, ONLINE SOURCES, THE STREET, NATURE OR FROM FOLDERS OF PICTURES OR SCRIBBLES THAT I HAVE COLLECTED OVER THE YEARS. FROM THERE I MAKE MORE FORMAL DRAWINGS AND THEN I WORK WITH A TEXTILE DESIGNER AND WE START TO PUT THINGS TOGETHER DIGITALLY. WE THEN EXAMINE AND RE-EXAMINE SCALE, PROPORTION, REPEAT PATTERN AND COMPOSITION. FROM THERE WE ADD COLOR, WHICH IS THE MOST FUN PART. THEN IT GOES TO THE MILL AND SAMPLE YARDAGE IS PRODUCED. ONCE ALL OF THE NECESSARY CHANGES ARE MADE, THEN ITS READY FOR PRODUCTION AND THEN IT EVENTUALLY GETS TO THE CUSTOMER. THE WHOLE PROCESS TAKES ABOUT A YEAR ON AVERAGE.
I'm a designer who sews. Many of my readers are as well, or just are in love with fashion and fabric. A lot of us sell on Etsy, and try to get our designs out there on social networks and whatever else we can imagine. What is your best advice to fledgling designers out here on getting our work seen and any other important encouragement?
HMMM...THATS A REALLY HARD ONE. I DONT REALLY KNOW HOW PEOPLE DO IT THESE DAYS. I WAS ON A TV SHOW, WHICH HELPED, BUT IT ISNT THE END ALL BE ALL OF SUCCESS BY ANY MEANS. YOU HAVE TO MANAGE A WAY TO CREATE PRODUCTS THAT RESONATE IN OTHER PEOPLE AND THEN BRICK BY BRICK KEEP BUILDING AND BUILDING. I HAVE FOUND THAT SUCCESS AND FAILURE OPERATE AT VERY SIMILAR FREQUENCIES.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND PEOPLES OVERSHARING HAVE REALLY TAKEN THE FUN OUT OF THINGS FOR ME. DONT GET ME WRONG, I LOVE TO LOOK AT THINGS ONLINE AND SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE DOING BUT IT HAS GOTTEN TO THE POINT WHERE ITS OVERWHELMING TO JUST LOOK AT WHAT EVERYONE IS DOING AND IN DOING THAT, YOU ARENT DOING WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING, WHICH IS DOING! SO, I SAY, JUST DO. DO THINGS. LETS JUST SAY, AT THE END OF THE DAY, IF CERTAIN SOCIAL MEDIA OUTLETS CAUGHT ON FIRE AND BURNT TO THE GROUND AND IT WOULD TAKE 20 YEARS TO REBUILD THEM, I WOULDN'T BE SAD ABOUT THAT. AT ALL. I AM JUST GOING TO KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON. I HAVE LOTS OF FUN PROJECTS PLANNED FOR THE COMING YEAR WHICH I CAN NOT DIVULGE ANY INFORMATION ON YET, SO YOU WILL HAVE TO STAY TUNED!
Lastly, do you have a philosophy or practice that keeps you zen in the middle of pressure, rushes and deadlines? Or do you just get crazy and make it work?(pun not intended)
UNFORTUNATELY THE CREATIVE MIND INHERENTLY NEVER STOPS THINKING SO EVEN WHEN YOUR WORK IS TECHNICALLY DONE, IT ISN'T EVER REALLY TOTALLY CREATIVELY DONE. I DONT MIND WORKING ON A DEADLINE BECAUSE IT REALLY GUIDES YOU TO WORK HARD UNTIL YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC DAY AND TIME SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE COMPLETED. YOU REALLY JUST HAVE TO KEEP A STEADY PACE AND KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE. MY FATHER TAUGHT ME THAT HASTE MAKES WASTE SO I TRY NOT TO KILL MYSELF TO RUSH FINISHING SOMETHING. THERE ARE ONLY SO MANY HOURS IN THE DAY TO GET THINGS DONE. IF IT RUNS INTO THE NEXT DAY OR WEEK, I TRY NOT TO SWEAT IT. IM CERTAINLY NOT A TYPE-A PERSONALITY.
Thank you so much, Jay!! It has really been an honor for you to do this interview with me. I and all my readers wish you nothing but success and happiness for the coming year and beyond! xx
Where you can find Jay :
jaymccarroll.com - website
jaymccarrollfabric.com - fabric
jaymccarroll.wordpress.com - blog