Ever wonder who’s behind the unique, colorful, and charismatic prints you can only find at ModCloth? Our exclusive private label collection is packed with expressive patterns and motifs that really make a statement. And our Chief Creative Officer, Fashion Director, and talented team of designers are the creative forces who dream up these distinctive designs.
Meet Natalia, our print designer. Her sketches transform into some of the standout styles in our signature collections. Each month, we’ll be asking her & her team to share what inspired the look, feel, and themes of these pieces.
Tell us a little bit about your path to becoming a designer. When did you first realize you had a passion for textile design? When did you first start experimenting with it?
I was lucky enough to find my passion for print and textile design in high school. I grew up taking art classes at a really early age, so I always knew art would be my main focus. Printmaking and painting are my favorite mediums — and while I loved both subjects, I knew I wanted to focus on something that combined the two but was more design-oriented. A teacher I had my senior year introduced me to textile design, and that was the beginning of discovering my true passion for print design.
What brought you to Los Angeles, and to ModCloth?
I am originally from Rhode Island. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, I moved to LA to work as an artist and designer for several companies. Every job has taught me new skills in print, graphics, and concept design, which led me to my current position at ModCloth.
Tell us about your personal creative process.
I work best in an environment where I am alone in my studio with music on in the background. I started in school with a more old-fashioned training, so my prints always start as original sketches and paintings on paper before I scan them into the computer. Working this way tends to open up endless possibilities between my imagination and the paper, freeing me of most distractions. Then, later on is when the Photoshop work comes in. I think that’s what makes print design so exciting and yet so complicated — it combines fine art and design in so many ways, and you can never really know how a print will end up once you begin.
How about within the team? How do you and your teammates utilize your different skills and strengths to work collaboratively?
The other designers and I have a great working relationship. I work very closely with them from the beginning [of each project] as they design bodies to develop artwork which incorporates their vision for their final pieces. They really help inspire me on a daily basis and provide extremely helpful feedback on my work.
Natalia examines some vintage pieces and checks the inspiration board for an upcoming collection.
How have your techniques, styles, and influences evolved over time?
At first, I used to draw really tight and try to make everything perfect — painting flowers more realistically and using tiny detailed pen drawings. As I’ve grown older, my work has become more loose and experimental, influenced by different techniques, artists, and cultures. I’ve learned it really takes a lot of bad sketches to get to the good ones, so it’s okay not to aim for perfection or be afraid to make ‘ugly’ art.
What’s your favorite magic trick for overcoming a creative block?
Whenever I’m feeling frustrated or uninspired, I usually go for really long drives alone to clear my head. There’s something about just listening to music and being alone with my thoughts that gives me the clean slate I need. It’s so hard to be creative when you are stressed and being hard on yourself for not creating the perfect image, so sometimes just taking time away from it all helps loosen you up.
In terms of design, what are you really inspired by at the moment?
Lately, I find myself pulling a lot of ethnic textile inspiration with rich, cultural patterns. I love the colors and intricate patterns in handwoven Persian and Turkish rugs, as well as bold, more abstract shapes in African batik fabrics. It’s fun to take traditional inspiration and make it modern with pops of neon colors, or to play with unexpected placements, like adding a wallpaper print to a dress.
The design team (Designers Jackie and Sara, Fashion Director Lizz, Natalia, and Chief Creative Officer Susan) scrutinizes swatches.
How does your team determine what themes to focus on each month? And where does you go for inspiration?
Lizz, our Fashion Director, creates the concept, then we all usually go “inspiration shopping” or take day trips to places that coincide with our theme. For example, we went to the National History Museum of Los Angeles one day for one of our future trends to look at the dinosaurs, gemstones, and animals. Just from being there, we were able to envelop ourselves with all the colors, layouts, and subject matter that our trend encompassed.
Jackie, Natalia, and Sara working on some creative collaboration.
Briefly describe a typical day for your team.
Every day is different, but they all involve lots of cross-functional teamwork, updating previously designed styles, and working together to make new ideas to come to life.
Lizz, Natalia, and Susan sussing out some upcoming styles. Stay tuned!
What is a favorite project that you’ve worked on recently?
I’ve been having fun starting artwork for next summer and creating the color palettes for our upcoming summer trend.
What is one thing about ModCloth prints that makes them so special?
What I find the most unique about our artwork is how it isn’t based on trends in the mass market. A lot of time is spent by Lizz and our team on creating ModCloth-specific trends. Once the trends are in place, a lot of artwork ideas come from the most-special vintage pieces.
A rack of vintage clothing = a treasure trove of inspiration.
We asked Lizz, our Fashion Director, for the mood/theme/ideas behind our exclusive prints this month. Here’s what she had to say:
“All the prints this season were inspired by our imagining that first moment when you really feel that first moment of fall. We imagined a trip up the coast, by train, to a cabin that had been in the family for generations….a little escape to nature, roasting marshmallows, cozying up by the fire, reading all day, being with friends and loved ones. That feeling of leaves changing, something special in the air, deer spotted from the train, the last flowers of the season underfoot in the woods inspired these prints.”
+Shop our current collection right here.