The amazing Amy

Welcome to LIFE FEVER december edition.. A fresh new month is starting, and as you can see if you take a glimpse to your right, a new sidebar is up, much more easy for you to check out all the stuff I put online. Also a new favourite artist, this time Amy Butler, an amazing designer based in Ohio, with one of the most beautifull patter collections I’ve ever seen. As this month is the “X-MAS MONTH”, L F and Amy Butler have a small surprise for one of you, more like a small contest, and the winner will win a” x-mas present”. (I will make a post about this contest explaining the rules).

Now, more great news, I went talking to Amy, to get to know her and her work better, and here is the result:

Coxi: How did you started?

Amy: Whew.. I didn’t know how far back you wanted me to go so I started with art school, which is what really jump started my design career. I also met my husband David at CCAD, truly the most important thing that’s ever happened to me. I graduated from the Columbus College of Art & Design in 1988 with a bachelor of fine arts degree. I majored in retail advertising with a textile and fashion design focus. I was hired by Hallmark Cards right out of school and I worked as an art director for them for 4 years. On the side , I created a new fashion portfolio and started making gifts and bags with my ever growing vintage fabric collection. After a portfolio submission to my design hero Christian Lacroix, and a subsequent kind letter of rejection, my husband David and I decided to strike out on our own and start our studio ” Art of the Midwest ” back home in Ohio. Halloween night 1992 we packed up our truck and moved back home to start over. Through the years David and I have grown our business by living multiple ” design lives ” and working some pretty interesting odd jobs on the side, all of which fed us and our entrepreneurial spirit! We like to call the early days of Art of the Midwest, the ” salad days “. Dave and I have had so many creative adventures, from doing fine art shows together to working side by side on client projects. Over the past 15 years, our flexibility, risk taking and love of design has opened the doors to a life of working together ( and with our cats ! ) doing what we love to do.

We each have had successful careers as illustrators, and brand and product developers.
In 1997 we started producing lifestyle stories for Country Living magazine alongside our studio work. I became their resource for producing ” how to ” stories that provided inspirational ideas for using vintage fabrics. The magazine was short on space, but we needed to get instructions to our readers so they could
make up the projects. This is how Amy Butler Sewing Patterns began. I licensed the Country Living brand and produced my first two sewing patterns that were featured in some of my articles. Soon after the magazine eliminated it’s fulfillment services and I was left with the challenge of how to get these patterns out to the broader market. In 2002 I attended my first International Quilt Market where I exhibited in my first 10′ x 10′ booth, decked out in quirky vintage modern fabrics highlighting my patterns. Since then, I’ve been blessed by enthusiastic support from the sewing community and I’m proud to say that great retailers worldwide now carry my sewing patterns. I never expected my business to take off as it has, and although I’ve kind of moved into creating a new business and brand, Dave and I still get to work together on creating the visuals, graphics and packaging for my patterns and fabrics. Plus Dave loves it that I’m ” his client ” and I call him the boss, because he is! and he’s an amazing talent, and I feel super fortunate that I get to work with him.

My first fabric collections were created with FreeSpirit fabrics. They gave me an incredible opportunity
to design fabric…..which I’ve always wanted to do! I met Donna from FS at my first quilt market, and never dreamed my quirky pattern business would allow me to pursue my fabric design dream. I’ll always be grateful for FreeSpirit’s willingness to take a chance on me. After several successful lines, our contract expired and I began working with Rowan fabrics, a relationship that had budded through our experiences working together on a knitting bag collection. As they say, timing is everything, and I feel I have landed just where I’m supposed to be. I started working with Rowan in December 2005 and have since launched two quilting lines with them. They are a great company full of good folks with imagination and energy. I’m looking forward to some exciting collaboration with Rowan!

Coxi: How have you realized you wanted to become an artist?

Amy: I think I realized I wanted to become an artist as soon as I learned what the word ” artist ” meant as a little kid. I was always coloring and crafting and making home made gifts for friends and family. My Mom and Grandmother have been a huge influence, both are self taught artists. As a child of the 70’s I watched both of them dabble and often master every craft. Both created water color paintings, hooked rugs, knitted, quilted, made groovy dioramas with found antique artifacts and dried flowers and truly made our home a creative nest. G. as we called her ( my grandma ) mastered sewing and taught me how to use her ” back up ” machine when I was about 6. G. gave me my first fabric stash and would always keep me supplied with craft materials. I took that first fabric stash and ” glued ” together halter tops for my little friends in my neighborhood because I didn’t have a sewing machine at home. The sewing machine was superfluous! It was all about the fabric. My friends tried to wear the outfits and assured me it was ” the thought that counts “….. a comment I still often get as I love to experiment with new crafts!

Coxi: What was the biggest influence in your work until today?

Amy: My influences and inspiration change constantly, but I do have a few core influences that will always have an effect on me. Broadly, all decorative arts and textiles have greatly influenced my work. This of course includes fashion. I’ve gone through several love affairs with different genres and periods of design. Culturally I’m hugely inspired by ethnic textiles and artifacts. My passion for fabrics and sewing has been a common thread through the span of my life so far and it just keeps building. My love of antique fabrics, and a collection that’s been growing 20 years now, has influenced my design eye and lov for unique vintage prints. The natural world is a big influence. I grew up with an appreciation for wildlife, flora and fauna.
Our home was always filled with animals and my mother taught me a great deal about wildflowers and birds. My grandmother was also a prolific gardener which has been a constant influence in all of my work and today my garden is one of my most satisfying creative outlets. My home life and my surroundings play a big part. My ” collections ” of antiques, junk and curiosities over the years have inspired me to have a personal design voice in my client work from years past to my own personal work that I do now.

Coxi: What are your main goals when you create?

Amy: My goal is to enjoy the entire creative process while I’m designing . I feel this joy and energy is translated in my work and passes onto others. It’s a joy that keeps paying forward. I’m just a starting point, I love what I do and then folks work with my patterns and fabrics to create and pass on that joy to the person on the receiving end as well as getting the personal satisfaction and pleasure from their creative experience. I only create what I LOVE and what I’m excited about. My designs are more intuitive and personal. I think all artists create this way. I believe anything you set out to do to please yourself will ultimately please others. I’m so fortunate that folks respond so sincerely to what I do which is incredibly humbling and gives me the greatest pleasure!

Coxi: Were do you get inspiration?

Amy: My biggest inspiration comes from travel and my garden, which explains my love of florals! Travel is so influential, it takes me away from my day to day rituals and allows me to open my mind and think differently, it also gives me the ” mental escape ” I need to renew my creative energy. I love to get completely absorbed in a place or culture, to step back and take in great design from architecture to museum collections to shocking colors in a tropical local. My garden is a never ending resource for beautiful color and design. Each season I have a different show, from Spring to Winter. My garden is one of my favorite places to spend time. I am influenced by every era of design, from turn of the century to mid- century. To me, design is far more interesting and fun when you experiment with many different elements. I design what I love, and what I want to be surrounded with. My collections are very personal, I think they have a feminine / modern feel about them. I’m always dreaming of future fabrics I’d love to sew with or use in my home which is always the underlying motivation for specific prints. I keep things fresh and lively by keeping my inspiration kinetic. I’m always excited about a new ” color” or colors. I keep an on-going color idea stash where I save snips of colors I love which eventually get worked into my palettes. I’m always snipping and clipping design influences from home decor, gardens, fashion and fine art. My taste and interests continually change and are reflected in my design choices.

Coxi: Do you rule by any tendency in your creative work, or you only follow what comes in your mind?

Amy: I don’t have any rules other than I have to love, love love what I’m making.

Coxi: Designers/Artists you admire?

Amy: The top of my list is my husband. David is a massive talent, he’s a true renaissance man, as he’s a brilliant fine artist, writer, photographer and graphic designer. His body of work is so impressive. He is true to himself and his art and that’s what moves me the most. Kaffe Fasset has always been a great inspiration to me. I admire him because he is first a fine artist who eloquently shares his vision for color and design through his work with great warmth and passion. He is a master colorist! I get lost in the color combinations in his fabrics. I am a huge admirer of Harmony Susalla from Harmony Arts.
Harmony is leading the way for organic printed fabrics. She is the real deal, an amazing artist, designer and passionate supporter for the organic fabric movement. She is a visionary with an unwavering heart, and
her fabrics are delicious! harmonyart.

Coxi: How is your work environment?

Amy: My work environment is the best! Dave and I have our studio in the lower level of our home. We have a 1970 modern bank ranch and the lower level is a mirror footprint of our top floor. I have my ” girl space ” and Dave has his own space. I’m surrounded by all the things I love, loads of fabric, notions, antiques, ephemera and books. I made two big benches that are padded with cushy foam and slip covered in my Forest fabric. I push the benches together for napping with the cats! We’re pretty relaxed here, we do have one other full time employee besides myself and one part time, I call them my super heros! We work a straightforward 9-5 with no overtime with the goal being we all need loads of down time and family time.

Coxi: What is your favorite piece of art that you have at home? old or recently bought…

Amy: I have a fresh, brand spankin new piece of art that David just gave me! It’s a gorgeous print called ” Communicable Flow”. The print images are formed by two turn of the century etchings of magnetic fields that David illustrated into elegant organic shapes. His quote on the print reads… ” The expenditure
of positive intention leading to the reproduction and spread of good will “. and that’s exactly what you feel when you look at the print. I am now going to hang the print in a local where I’ll see it and ” feel ” it every day. lucky me!

Coxi: What is your bedside table book at the moment?

Amy: I have 2 in rotation right now! I like to mix it up. Short attention span, ok maybe. I am in the process of re-reading both books because they are such life changing kinds of books….. ” EAT PRAY LOVE ” by Elizabeth Gilbert. You have to read this book! It’s a true personal account of the authors travels through Italy, India and Indonesia… one woman’s search for everything, beautifully written with wit, humor and profound insight. I couldn’t put it down during my first read. My second book, that I’m sure I will re-read for the rest of my life is Pema Chodron’s ” THE PLACES THAT SCARE YOU ” This is one of those books you read and you go ‘ oh yeah, that’s just what I needed to read at this place in my life. Pema is an incredible teacher and writes with such a compassionate and easy to understand voice. She presents Buddhist principles and ideas in a very real and human way, making the teachings super easy to absorb.

Coxi: Are you living your ideal lifestyle?

Amy: I’d have to say yes indeed. I always feel like I’m just where I need to be at this moment. Now staying in the moment is another story.

Coxi: What haven’t you done yet that you definitely want to try someday?

Amy: Latin dancing, snow boarding, hike in Indonesia, hand print textiles in India, live in the Cotswolds for a year and grow a truck patch of Dahlias.

9 Responses to “The amazing Amy”

  1. ana Says:

    wow wow …my friend what a great interview.
    She is amazing…thanks

  2. joy Says:

    great interview coxi! very inspiring..;)

  3. graça Says:

    very inspiering! great interview , like always .congratulations

  4. Tongue in Cheek Says:

    What incredible photos, like artwork in their onw right. Amy has such a gift with color and design, Christian Lacroix let a gem slip through his fingers, and though she became a jewel in her own crown!

  5. Colette Says:

    Wonderful interview! Thank you!

  6. Harmony Says:

    Amy is one of those rare people whose beauty radiates both inward and outward in all that she is and creates. I am honored to call her my friend and hero.

  7. cruststation Says:

    You are amazing, congrats on interviewing the people we’ve always wanted to get to know more of. Thank you for the gorgeous images from Amy Butler and can’t wait to see what the XMas contest have in store.

  8. Abby Says:

    Thanks for the interview. I have heard of amy butler and seen her patterns but never an interview.

  9. Pinkmohair Says:

    WOW, Excellent interview – very thorough. Everything she touches turns to beauty!

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