After years working as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer, Cindy Lindgren wanted to explore her interests in a more personal way. She’d become intrigued by the Arts & Crafts movement after seeing a period textiles exhibit in St. Paul: “I was struck by the abstract textile and embroidery designs.”
Concentrating on her own region—Lindgren grew up in Iowa and now lives in Minneapolis—she began to shape images for notecards and art prints using local motifs including the thistle, luna moth, and Solomon’s seal. She adapted quickly when traditional graphic design went digital. Knowing how to create designs by hand and mix her own colors made for an easier transition, she says. Her mastery is apparent in her catalog of 100 or more nature-inspired designs for fabric and wallpaper. She was one of the earliest designers for Spoonflower, an online marketer of custom fabrics.
Despite the use of cutting-edge technology and the limitless potential for reaching customers through the internet, Lindgren feels that Spoonflower and another company for which she designs, Modern Yardage (modernyardage.com), are in keeping with the Arts & Crafts tradition. “There’s no waste, nothing is printed until it’s ordered. We can create these very custom images that a big company could not offer.”
Lindgren still starts every design the old-fashioned way, by sketching with a pencil. “Then I refine the sketches until I get a tight pencil line, and then finish it on the computer in Illustrator, where I redraw all my lines and fill the shapes with colors.”
She starts with a single image, usually the basis for a notecard, which is the biggest part of her business (sold online through etsy.com). “I can expand it into a pattern if I think it will work as a fabric. Once you have your design, you can do it in multiple colorways.”
You do need to know how to make a repeating square, a technique used in most patterned wallpaper and textile design, to create a template image called a tile. While some designs are less successful in repetition, others can be startling in their appeal, like the Scalloped Pine panel. “When that tiled, it looked really cool. It was fun to flip it in different ways so that the pinecones came together.”
Small Batch Craft
The advantages of digital technology and the instant gratification of the internet are two of the forces that helped create Spoonflower (spoonflower.com), an online seller of custom fabric. Gart Davis and Stephen Fraser started the company, based in Durham, N.C., in 2008, after their creative wives asked why there wasn’t a source for custom fabric design for home furnishings.
Spoonflower is based on print-on-demand technology. Anyone can create a fabric design online, either from a personal design or from one of more than 350,000 available, and receive printed fabric in very short order. “It creates a whole new market for people who know what they want to get custom work,” says Cindy Lindgren, who was an early contributor to Spoonflower.
Their digital print process uses eco-friendly, water-based pigment inks and dyes. Since everything is made to order (the catalog is virtual), there is very little waste. Fabric choices have expanded to include multiple varieties of cotton tailored to specific uses (poplin, piqué, and organic sateen, for example), plus silk, Lycra, and polyester crepe de chine, faille, and fleece. The company also offers wallpaper and giftwrap. A search box allows a customer to search by style: typing the word “craftsman” turned up more than 100 designs.
A recently launched spinoff company, Roostery (roostery.com) offers soft furnishings—pillows, table linens, tea towels, and placemats—all from the customer’s personal choice of Spoonflower fabric and made in the United States. Start to finish, the process takes as little as two weeks.
Cindy Lindgren LLC
Craftsman Nouveau Art