There’s a popular saying that goes “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.” And that’s fitting for Zirkus Design owner Chamisa. After pursuing a degree in Art, she took office jobs to help make ends meet. It wasn’t until years later that she pursued a life in art. “I never had the courage to pursue a creative career. I needed to work right away after graduating. Twelve years, three children, and two transatlantic moves later, I found myself at a crossroads. I needed to decide whether to finally take a risk and give a creative career a go or live the rest of my life with the regret of never trying,” Chamisa told us recently.
From there, she discovered surface pattern design while brushing up on her technique through Skillshare, and that led her to Spoonflower where she discovered the design challenges. “I entered my first design challenge in January, 2018. Entering the Spoonflower challenges stretched me as a designer, taught me how to interpret a brief in my own way, and helped develop my style,” Chamisa said. Since then, she’s created quite the name for herself in the textile art world, working with the likes of PBS Fabrics, Michael Miller, Andover, Midwest, and big box stores like Joann and Hobby Lobby.
Getting designs printed and sold in stores like that is not easy. And it’s often a collaborative effort for Chamisa. She walked us through her process, sharing: “When I design a new fabric collection, I usually start with a story. Who or what are the characters? What is happening in the story? What supporting themes do I need to round out the narrative? What colors make this story come alive? Since my sewing skills are not the best, I will often ask a sewing or quilting friend to weigh in on the collection. I’ve learned so much from sewists – what they look for in collections and when designing their own products.”
“I don’t pay too much attention to trends, but I don’t completely ignore them either. Trends often help narrow down my pool of ideas when it comes to making a new collection. I try to focus more on trends with longevity (for example, cats and dogs will always be on trend) as opposed to short-lived hot motifs (hello, sloths,)” Chamisa said. Along those lines, Love Cats is among the most popular of Chamisa’s designs we offer in the shop. We also love her newest collection - the “Halloween Village” line you can see here.
As with other designers we’ve spotlighted, Chamisa says she’s inspired by everyday life. “I’m inspired by my worldwide travel adventures, vintage illustrations, the natural world, my cooking and baking experiments, and outdoor expeditions with my family.”
For new or aspiring designers, she offers this advice: “Make a LOT of art, and give yourself a LOT of time. Surface design is NOT a get rich quick strategy. Building a successful design business takes years, and you will need art that stands out from the crowd. Draw and create as often as you can. You might cringe at what you’re making, but the only way to move past the awful newbie phase is to keep creating. Trust the process, and trust yourself.”
That’s wonderful advice for sure. We wanted to thank Chamisa and Zirkus Designs for answering our questions. We look forward to seeing more of your work down the road.
Until then, Happy Quilting!