Cover Artist Interviews: Rebecca Abigail Wallach
Our very first pattern, Cabin, is illustrated by Rebecca Wallach. I know Rebecca through mutual friends; she went to graduate school with my husband and many of our pals. Before knowing her too well, I was very taken with her artwork and its immense detail and delicacy. She came to me with a custom clothing project to make use of a beautiful textile she found at a yard sale.
We became fast friends through a mutual appreciation for clothing, fit, fabric, and our mutual familial Jewishness-most evident in our shared love of Jewish baked goods. Through our collaboration, the idea came to feature an artist for each Blueprints release, showing that a unique creative voice can be inspired by and emerge from every pattern. I am happy to feature Rebecca with our first cover illustration, to communicate the nature of Blueprints patterns to foster all kinds of creativity.
We talked quite a bit about how to conceptualize an illustration for the pattern that represented Rebecca's aesthetic interests as well as my ideas about what would make a good illustration. We discussed at length and decided on something that showed the pattern's potential with prints and did so on a variety of bodies and looks, perhaps skewing a little zaftig.
I asked Rebecca a few questions about her style and creative process:
T: Where does your creative motivation come from? Was there a point where you realized that you needed to make art or do you approach it more as a finely tuned skill that you can employ if necessary? (Basically, is your motivation passionate or rational?)
R: making things feels good, even/especially when it's hard. i certainly feel thankful and empowered that i have cultivated particular skills and (in the context of my work) the patience of Job. i'll be honest, sometimes i (still) do/make things just to stretch my notions of [my own] capabilities.
but i suppose the impetus is usually curiosity and a desire to absorb, record, sense and prod. the curiosity has always been there. [my] processes of 'art making' are just some of the tools in my arsenal- for both the research and synthesis of these inquiries.
T: What are your favorite things to draw and why?
R: interior spaces and the things that occupy them. rooms tellin’ stories.
but i’ll always be a person-person; i have a predilection for wrinkles and distinguished profiles, potbellies and bottoms. this parallels with my penchant for drawing clothing with great lines and patterns/folds/unseemly crinkles. it’s all in the details.
these things- and food-stuffs.
T: How would you describe your personal style?
R: it consistently feels playful, modest (who knew!), confident. the last may not be a great visual descriptor, but it seems to be a primary ingredient.
i suppose i gravitate toward classic silhouettes, usually paired with a pattern or an unexpected throwback from a certain grandmother's attic or my brazen 6th grade wardrobe.
T, i hope it’s fair to admit that i actually sort of have style aspirations. ready?: to be a softer- dare i say effortlessly elegant dresser, à la Jane Birkin, perhaps.
i’ve decided that the first step to this, and most everything, is standing-tall, shoulders-back.
T: Do you feel there is a relationship between your aesthetic as an illustrator and your personal style in terms of clothing?
R: oh, absolutely. aside from literally drawing a lot of clothing (much of it culled from my/my grandmother’s shared wardrobe)-- there's a pretty direct connection.
most of my work has elements of excruciating detail; intuitive, fluid, loose improvisation; and minimalism. there’s usually a balance there that helps to choreograph a particular viewing, reading of or focus within the composition and within the space in which my work is viewed. without forcing this comparison, i feel that the same push-pull of focus and interest exists when i dress.* and while it may not be entirely conscious, it seems to function similarly.
*…unexpected details are the sweetest (that’s what i adore about your patterns).
T: What is your favorite outfit right now and why?
R: it's a short sleeved, slightly stiff-but-thin cotton, printed shift dress that just hits 'dem knees. there's an extra panel of fabric atop the skirt so that it wraps around and knots (on the side) to cinch in the waist. i usually wear it with some taller-ankle boots, no matter the season.
it begets a really nice shape without any built-in structure. i’ve always thought dresses (read: onesies) are magical because they’re just one garment and fin.
i found this one in my nana's attic among her "vacation clothes" from decades past and other printed matter. i’d be happy to have it in four dozen prints.
T: What article of clothing represents you? (Be as literal or abstract as you like)
R: i like this question very much- for i am jewish and an illustrator- so symbolism sort of runs through my veins. i'd like to think i'm something warm, comfortable, innovative, great for traveling or napping: wait, i just described a snuggie.
...upon reevaluating (my life):
a button down denim shirt-dress. it’s versatile, pretty relaxed, maybe even a little “smart,” as they say. toot-toot! i own one, so i feel extra good about this selection. toot-toot, again!
T: What other projects have you finished recently or have coming up? What potential future projects have you dreamed of (if any)?
R: i finished a collaborative book project a while back with a French bookbinder (sonyasheats.com) and a creative gent, essentially chronicling a couple’s courtship… the hand-illustrated, hand-lettered, delightfully bound book culminated with a proposal. so THAT was a sweet project.
i’m currently working on another: a family-history chronicled through the narrative tales (or truths) of the 90+ year old matriarch.
book projects of this nature require the most wonderful storytelling and translation process. i look forward to more of them.
dream project: working with a certain up-and-coming designer/sewing maven on a sweet dress collaboration.
dream project deux: researching and writing/illustrating a book about cheese.
for now, i’m in the exciting post-embryonic stages of a new body of work. to be continued…
You can check out more of Rebecca's amazing work on her website: http://rebeccawallach.info/
You too can be the illustrator for a Blueprints pattern! Learn more on our Cover Artists page.