Meet the Author
Hey there, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Jessica Swift, and I'm a full-time artist -- painter and surface pattern designer -- and author in Portland, Oregon, USA. I create products in my home studio and sell them on my website, license my work for a variety of products, and teach a popular online course called Pattern Camp (which is currently open for registration, with class starting June 6th!). You can find more about me on my website at jessicaswift.com
Tell us a bit about the book?
The first part of The Crafter's Guide to Patterns is a bit of a primer about pattern design. In the book I explain how repeating patterns are technically created, I detail the many different types and styles of patterns, and I give many visual examples! In the second part of the book, I share a range of different techniques for hand-printing patterns on a variety of surfaces, like stationery, fabric, and gift wrap -- for example, using methods like screen printing, stamp-carving, foam-stamping, and cyanotype printing. In the book you'll learn how to create your own patterned greeting cards, fabric gift wrap, notebooks, wall stencils, and more!
What was the inspiration behind it?
I really love hand-printing and carving stamps, and I wanted to share that love with other crafters! It's such an easy skill to learn, but it can seem intimidating, so I wanted to take some of the scariness out of it by creating some simple yet beautiful projects. The rest of the hand-printing techniques stemmed from my love of stamp-carving, and I was excited to share a range of methods for creating beautiful printed surfaces with other people. I work a lot on the computer, but I'll always love making things by hand, so I wanted to go back to my roots in a way and create a book about hand-making patterns. My love of hand-made patterns began years ago, when as a child I used to draw and paint elaborate patterns by hand as often as I could. From there, my love of creating digital patterns grew, and now I love both methods! I also wanted to shed light on the mystery of how repeating patterns work, because I know many creative people are confused about the process, so that was an important part of my inspiration for the book, too.
Which is your favourite project?
I think my favorite project is the cyanotype gift wrap -- this was a new process for me, and it was SO fun! I love the color and the magic of the process. I highly recommend readers try that one!
What is your craft space like?
I have a few different spaces in which I work. My office/crafty space is in the upstairs part of our house, and it feels like a little attic treehouse. My computer is in this space, so this is where I do most of my writing (another favorite space is with my laptop on the couch!), and I make a lot of my products in this space, too, like prints, pocket mirrors, paper goods, etc. My painting area is downstairs in the basement of our house, so that's where all the paint and ink-related stuff happens. It's nice to have a few different work/creative zones to move between.
Have you always been creative?
Oh yes! I've made stuff my entire life. It's always been one of my biggest joys. It relaxes me and is such a great way to spend time. I also used to a be a singer-songwriter (I taught myself to play guitar when I was 15), so that was another wonderful creative outlet for me for many years.
When did you first start crafting?
I've been crafting for as long as I can remember. My favorite memories are of making things with my mom as a young child -- Christmas ornaments, dying Easter eggs, learning how to sew, carving pumpkins, drawing at the kitchen table... I remember making Christmas ornaments out of clothes pins with my mom when I was really young and thinking she was the most creative person in the world -- we made angels, Santas, elves, everything! We painted the faces and bodies and made clothes out of fabric, ribbon, and lace. I'd do that project again now!
Who are your crafty heroes?
Some of my favorite authors are John Irving, Barbara Kingsolver, and Jonathan Safran Foer. As far as crafty heroes go, I really admire Lisa Congdon, Anahata Katkin, and my dear friend Caroline Douglas. They're artists more than craters, but it's all related, right? ;)
Where do you find inspiration?
All around me! In my neighborhood, when I'm out shopping, out walking in nature, driving around town, even just staring at a blank canvas or computer screen. I'm hugely inspired by color, so that's always a starting point for me. Inspiration is everywhere if your eyes are open for it!
What's next for you?
I recently formed a partnership with a popular licensing agent (a secret until May 21st!), so I'm excited to see how my working with her will open up new opportunities in my creative business. Also, I'm having a baby this fall (my first!), so that'll be a big life-changer. I'm trying to keep the rest of 2015 sort-of unscheduled, because I have no idea what life will be like then! Other than that, my schedule is wide open for making new art and figuring out the next steps for Pattern Camp. It's an exciting time!