The last week of my life was very strange. I took a little break from textiles and decided to pursue something that I’ve been working on the side hustle for a while.
I got on a bus leaving from Chinatown at 5AM with strangers on Thursday morning and by Sunday morning I had built a viable business with four of them.
On a bus.
It wasn’t even a good bus either, it was kind of Fung Wah-level grimy and there was no internet or power. The bathroom was terrifying, motion sickness was inevitable, and wifi was squandered like a dystopian future currency.
But it was magical.
StartupBus is a competition that takes groups of complete strangers from all over the country and Mexico, puts them on a bus, has them form teams, build businesses and compete in a fierce, final day contest.
Part hack-a-thon, part Ted Talks, part business accelerator, the bus is an amalgamation of all things swirling around in the air in tech. Like most brilliant and rare spaces, it happened almost accidentally when founder Elias Bizannes joked over beers about putting people on a bus and having them build businesses in three days. Unlike most other hazy, grandiose plans that die a quick death before even leaving the bar, Elias actually pulled this one off.
You begin the journey by signing up as one of three things: a Hipster, a Hacker, or a Hustler. This was actually one of the most difficult parts of the trip for me. Anytime someone asks me to bucket myself into a professional specification my insides start squirming, especially when you’re knee deep in an imposter-syndrome episode like I have been lately, fearing I’m not qualified for anything.
I’m a designer. I eat sleep and breathe building visual systems, whether that be a logo, a print, or a website. It’s something I love. When Jenn Shaw, one of this years conductor, called me up to interview me about a spot on the bus, she asked me the question and I immediately said, “Designer”.
Well, I really said “Hipster,” but that feels really weird to actually say out loud. And there’s an unspoken rule in the hip community that you’re not really allowed to self-identify or you’re automatically a poser.
But anyway, I said “Hipster.”
I’ve been a designing forever, and have been messing around in Adobe since the first version of Illustrator. I was even building websites in Paint at some point when I was younger. It’s my comfort zone.
In fashion, I think it’s crazy when people that don’t know how to sew end up building garments. I feel the same way about building the internet. Knowing both can only make you a stronger and faster designer.
So when I said, “Hipster.” Jenn said, “No. Hacker.”
I mean it was a stretch. I’ve been coding now for a yearish, and I’m not a particularly fast coder either. When I’m coding I like to leisurely sit down at my desk with a beer and my sketchy wireframes and pour over the code like it’s visual poetry, perfectly indenting everything and making sure best practices are strictly adhered to. It’s not a style of coding that’s particularly conducive to hack-a-thon break-it-quick and break-it-fast style of coding.
But Jenn’s a pusher.
So I signed up as a Hacker.
And it was one of the best and scariest decisions I’ve ever made. And funnily enough, one of the most inconsequential. In order to really win, you have to be all three. You should be all three. The only way to survive as a lean startup is to be all three, and the bus is an incubator for that.
The space that StartupBus creates for builders and makers to interact is amazing. The titles are actually a ruse that helps in the initial phase to make a fully fleshed team, but mean nothing in the end. Some people who signed on as hackers came out the other side as hustlers, and a bunch of hustlers even flexed their design muscle.
It was beautiful. The only other space that comes close to recreating that atmosphere was my studio in college. Designers are familiar with working collaboratively in a messy, iterative way that usually involves lots of quick sketches and post-its and discussions around “look-feel” and “flow”. I think developers have a similar process, but we live and work lives that are almost parallel to each other most of the time.
Seriously, it’s magical when those two worlds collide, and StartupBus is that environment. Everyone should pair-program or pair-design, or even pair-hustle.
Break stuff fast, build it faster, push it out, even if it’s not perfect.
I’m quickly wrapping this up as my plane lands and I can barely process what the last three days of my life were. I’m sure it will take me weeks, but everything I thought before getting on the bus about structure and process has already completely changed. Everything I thought about structure and process will never be the same.
Like Nate said to me early Tuesday morning as I made my final sprint, pushing code around to finally and truly hack something together, “There are no rules.”
If you are the same kind of combination creative drive + ultimate laziness + obsessed with optimization as I am then you’re probably interested in mobile apps that make textiles designing fun and easy on the go.
Well sorry suckers because there basically are none.
I’m like 67% sure that I can’t be the only one interested in this stuff so I want to show you guys at least one application that I found really helpful.
I found this one night while deep in an App Store hole. This is similar to a Wikipedia hole except with more flappy bird.
It’s called Pattern Shots.
Look at me, living on the edge with 14% battery life. So reckless.
It’s a pretty simple app which is why I find it kind of genius. It’s basically a program that takes the camera on your iPhone and turns it into a kaleidoscopic image. You don’t get too much variance in regard to how the pattern repeats and it’ll always look pretty kaleidoscopy but the colors and shape elements you get from it are pretty awesome. And it’s a great at starting point if you’re feeling low on inspiration.
This is a small collection I made using PatternShots titled “I got lost on the subway today even though I’ve lived here for two years”.
HEY GUYS! So the last time we met we had a great time together making a floral design for spring. And we made something beautiful together, and you should never forget that. Check out PART 1 if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
But now comes the real magic.
I think this is the part where everyone gets hung up. I mean art is for everyone and it’s pretty easy to draw something and then to be done with it and put it out in the world. It’s quite another to build something that can eventually be produced by a factory or sent out to be put on a product. That involves something scary.
It’s okay though, we can do this together. I will help. And the end result will be awesome.
This does involve, however, some intermediate knowledge of photoshop, but don’t be scared. I believe in you.
SO let’s get started, shall we?
HOPE YOU GOT YOUR BUD LIGHT LIMES READY BECAUSE I DO!
The first thing you gotta do is your floral pattern onto your computer. There are plenty of ways to do this, you can use cameras, scanners, copy machines with scanners at kinkos…but I’m going to show you my way. I take a picture with my smart phone. Some of you may not have a smart phone, and in that case a simple point-and-shoot would suffice. But smart phones are awesome because most of them have cameras with higher outputs than most market point-and-shoots, and that is awesome. Really, the most important thing about the photo is the lighting you take it in. I prefer natural white light daylight. Taking a photo in simple white daylight on a nice day resulted in the following photo…
Not too bad, right? This was actually taken using the Evernote app which has an awesome scanner-like feature to it, in that it crops to the document and even warps it a bit to account for perspective if you can’t take it on an entirely level surface. It even brightens it a bit too, which is pretty helpful when you then take it into photoshop.
This is what the Evernote interface looks like when you’re scanning/taking a picture of a document. It’s pretty cool.
Anyway, pop that sucker into photoshop in whatever way you can.
I have just recently acquired Adobe CC because I am a fancy betch, but these instructions can work in earlier versions. Textile design is an ancient digital art that mostly requires a cursory knowledge of these following tools.
That’s it. That’s pretty much all I used on this particular project. I also am very lucky to have a Wacom tablet at my disposal, but you can do this with a mouse as well.
The following steps will be pretty important in setting up the foundation of your file, in order to always maintain an original copy of your work. I’m a huge advocate of always maintaining working copies as layers underneath your artwork, just in case you need to go back.
STEP 1 Before you do anything, make sure you double click on the background layer in your layers palette, and change it from Background to Layer 1. This just makes it editable, and it is the first step in what one of my old design professors called “the bread crumb trail”.
STEP 2 Duplicate that layer. Now you should have two of the identical layer in your layers palette.
Then rename them.
Or don’t, whatever. I basically just included that step so organized Adobe freaks don’t yell at me about file organization best practices.
But it does help.
STEP 3 This is the first step in the process of “cleaning the artwork”, as we call it in the ‘biz. To do this you have to see the outer edge of your seam. This is what we created in the last installment of this floral series when we inverted the artwork and taped it together. To do this go to Filter > Other > Offset. It should look like this
This is the offset filter. It moves your artwork over so you can see what it looks like if it were going edge to edge as a never ending artwork.
If you play around with the arrows you can see the artwork moving right to left and up and down. This is SUPER helpful as it allows us to edit our floral into a seamless tile.
You can set your artwork any way with the offset filter you prefer. I usually end up setting it so the seams hit somewhere in the center so I can see all four corners. It will look something like this…
You can see in the middle where the artwork is slightly disjointed. That’s where we cut and inverted! My cutting and taping skills are never A+, but luckily my photo editing skills are top notch and I can fix this digitally. If you’re an A+ cutter and taper, with surgeon hands, than you may not need to edit as much as I do.
STEP 4 If you’ve ever used photoshop before then you are probably familiar with the clone stamp tool. The clone stamp tool basically takes a selected area of your artwork from one place and fills it into another, in order to blend stuff together. We are all familiar with the clone stamp, even if we aren’t photoshop gurus as it is probably at least partially responsible for this amazing and historical art piece.
The clone stamp is a beautiful tool, but also probably responsible for nurturing body issues in humans all across the globe. We can’t have the yin without the yang people.
Luckily for this project we are harnessing the power of the clone tool for good.
This is when the zen part happens and you get to mindlessly clone out the seam for a little while.
So I zoom in real close and start to stamp.
I find it works well if you take from an area that is relatively close to what you are stamping out, as the lighting will be somewhat similar. Even if it isn’t, that’s something we can correct later in the process. You can definitely see in the image above that there’s a difference in the whites from one side of that line to the other.
STEP 5 Add a layer of white in between your safety copy and the draft you’re working on now.
The next step is all about cutting, pasting, and distorting. So this white layer will eventually become part of your overall pattern as the background.
After I cloned out the seam, the pattern was still pretty wonky in places, especially where the leaves ended up not matching up. But no fear! With some photoshop trickery we can fix this. Grab your handy pen tool and start to outline your worst looking floral motif around the edge. I used the pen tool for this one so I could get an exact edge against the seam. After you’re done, make sure to turn that path into a selection by right clicking.
Copy and paste that guy on top of itself so it becomes a new layer. This way you can move it around freely. You can nudge that guy over a bit so he starts to overlap where the wood flooring is in the photo. You can even ⌘T to transform it and distort it so it fits with it’s other half on the other side.
Eventually you’ll start to get something that looks like this
See those crazy spaces where the whites don’t match?
That brings us to…
STEP 6 Blowing out those whites. This step is pretty easy. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels. This is great. This is called non-destructive editing. What this levels layer will do is basically put a layer on top of your artwork that is purely for color editing. It won’t actually mess with the color inside the artwork, hence the non-destructive part of this.
The dialogue box will look something like this.
This basically controls the amount of black, grey, and white in your photo. The white lever on the far right is the one we’re concerned with. The further you bring that to the left, the whiter your whites get blown out. Bringing that just a little bit over makes a huge difference and gets rid of a lot of the dirty white we created while we were editing.
When all is said and done you should end up with something that looks something like this…
And isn’t that beautiful.
The LAST STEP I usually take is saving this as a PSD file and bringing it into illustrator. That way you can just drag it into your swatch palette for it to become this beautiful thing right here…
YEAH! I know this may have been a little complicated for my first tutorial on fabric design, but next I’m planning on a simple geo, but if you guys have any questions just let me know in the comments!
It’s SPRING! And what better way to celebrate than by putting together your own floral fabric pattern? I know florals are so tired, but hear me out and maybe we can put a spin on an old classic together.