In an industry that’s always looking for the next best thing, there are a few creators who have managed to stick around and continue inspiring the design community through their evolution. We’re so excited to have one of those creators on the blog today – Rebecca Atwood!
If you follow interior design, you’ve definitely seen Rebecca’s work. Her prints are colorful yet classic, and bring life into each of the spaces they adorn. We had the opportunity to chat with Rebecca about how she found her niche, what goes into creating each of her unique patterns, and the advice she’d give to aspiring creators. It’s a good one, so let’s get straight into it!
01 / We’re always so inspired by your work and love following along with your journey! Could you share a little about your creative background?
I’ve been drawing, painting, and looking at colors and light for as long as I can remember. I’m grateful that my parents encouraged that from a very young age. I studied painting at Rhode Island School of Design and that opened up a world of art I hadn’t known existed.
02 / When did you make the pivot into textiles? How did you find your niche?
When I was at RISD, I became interested in textiles because my paintings were really about the surface and veered into the textile space. I was knitting abstract hangings and then creating paintings of them. As I was getting closer to graduation I knew I needed to find a job and textile design seemed like a good direction. I could draw and paint day-to-day, but also have the steadiness of a full time job.
When I look back, I can see I was always interested in home and creating spaces, but through the lens of a surface. I think our environments can impact our well-being profoundly and I view them as living landscapes.
I began my career at Anthropologie on their home design team in Philadelphia, and from there moved to NYC and worked at a small UK based design consultancy firm before starting my own line.
03 / Congratulations on your recent rebrand and new website! What was the inspiration for this new look?
Nine years of growing my business and the profound experience of becoming a mother has forever, and perhaps continually, changed me. Even before the pandemic, I had a feeling that we had outgrown something. I was ready for a period of deep reflection to uncover what was next for my personal life as well as the business.
While this inner change sparked reflection and drove me to refine our vision and values, it also led to our new visual identity and website. This work has really been inspired by working with amazing interior designers like you. I am truly inspired by the spaces you all create.
It has changed how I think about design. It’s about beauty – but beauty in the bigger sense: harmony, creating a habitat. In a very obvious way, seeing the kinds of homes you create inspires my patterns, colors, and textures. But, it also inspires the work we do as a team. We want to give you the tools to make your job easier – like real-time stock quotes without emailing us and easier online sourcing through our trade designated site.
My designs aren’t finished products when it comes down to it. They are thought through, carefully executed, and it takes months to get them there – but ultimately, you take them and they become something bigger: a landscape inside a home.
04 / Can you walk us through the process of creating a new pattern? How do you determine things like color palette, pattern scale, and textile material?
Almost all of my designs begin in my sketchbook. Years ago I began keeping a sketchbook and it felt like such a freeing way to work. I didn’t feel any real pressure for something to be good; I could just turn the page and never look at it again. It felt very low stakes and allowed me to get ideas down. Sometimes I look back at things I didn’t like from years ago and see something new. It’s about keeping that energy moving and getting out of my head. It’s a place for play, experimentation, and joy. I often need to remind myself there’s no need to be precious with it.
Often, I’ll explore an idea from my sketchbook many times before it turns into the final pattern. I try to paint at the scale I plan to use, but sometimes I’ll print versions of the artwork at various scales if I feel it’s not quite right. For example, right now I’m working on a tree pattern made from stamping a cut potato. It’s too large but it looks just right at 50% scale.
Color is a bit of a process. I almost always paint my own color standards to send off to our printers. I mix the colors with gouache paint. For multi-colored designs I’ll even do little color studies where I’ll paint looser versions of the artwork to see how the colors will layer together. Then, it’s back to the computer to create the actual files and refine the idea.
We work with various base fabrics for prints and I’m often thinking about the end use when picking a base fabric. Will it be an upholstery fabric? Drapery? Wallpaper? Could it be all of these things? Would this print look best on a texture of a smooth ground? For wovens, it’s about the yarns and texture. Our wallpapers we’re starting to experiment with new grounds as well.
05 / One of our favorite things about your work is that it’s ever-evolving and has had such staying power in the industry. You’re always pushing the envelope and surprising us with new prints that feel timeless yet current. How do you continue to find new inspiration for your designs?
When I’m making time for myself and my creative practice the ideas are almost endless. The more I create the more ideas there are. The ideas aren’t usually the issue – but it’s making the dedicated time for creating. At the moment, I find it important to get out of my head and just work. Editing comes later.
I think a big part of inspiration is also in taking care of myself. Walking in nature, yoga classes, and getting a good night’s sleep.
06 / Do you have a favorite project or pattern that you’ve ever worked on?
Oh gosh, that’s a hard one! I’m often most excited about what I’m working on next as that’s still a puzzle to solve and since I haven’t been looking at it for years, it still feels fresh. There are patterns that I’ve had in the line for years that I still reach for time and again when I think about a pattern mix or creating a calm mood for a space – Petals and Speckled will always be favorites.
07 / When you’re not working, what does your day-to-day look like?
When I’m not at work, I’m spending time with my three-year-old daughter and my husband. We’re often walking around the park and looking for “treasures” – leaves, flowers, rocks, and sticks. I love a quiet day at home.
08 / What piece of advice would you share with aspiring artists and creators?
Be curious! We’re so lucky to live in an age where there are so many resources available for learning – many of them are free or at a very low cost. Read books, look up tutorials online, listen to podcasts, take a class. I’ve learned so much from my prior work experience and then once I started my business continuing to prioritize my education. There’s always more to learn. My business coach is Holly Howard and she teaches classes which I also highly recommend.
09 / What’s next for Rebecca Atwood?
Personally, this next year is all about getting settled here in Charleston. I’m so excited to have my very own art studio space within our office– it’s really a dream come true. The past few years have been very focused on the various needs of the business from operations to sales and marketing. I’ve made a big shift to just two office days a week and three in the studio creating. I am just making the time and space to create without as much agenda. I want more exploration and play and to reignite my personal art practice.
For the business we’re focused on growing our business with our trade partners. There will be a few new collections of fabric and wallpaper this year.
10 / Could you share 3 tips with our readers on how to mix patterns in their spaces?
Keep your color palette tight if you are new to mixing patterns. A unified color palette can make different styles and patterns work together that might otherwise seem like they don’t go together.
Mix up the scale with an assortment of small, medium, and large prints. This helps move your eye around the room. And don’t be afraid to exaggerate when it comes to scale. For example, normally for a chair seat, you’d go for a small- or medium-scale print, but cropping in on a large pattern can transform that print into something more abstract.
Have fun. Think of patterns in a room as friends or family. They’re all going to have their own personalities, strengths, and inclinations, and figuring out how they play together is what makes it interesting. Pattern is the best tool for telling your story. If you love it, you can always find a way to make it work.
We don’t know about you, but we’re feeling pretty inspired! For more of Rebecca’s work and to shop her wallpapers, pillows, and textiles, head to her website. We also highly recommend following her on Instagram to see all of the behind-the-scenes that go into each of her designs!
To catch up on our Creator Interview series, head to the Stories section of our blog to read them all. We’ve got great conversations with some of our favorite creatives in the design industry, including Boxwood Avenue and Susan Connor. If you’re interested in a design career, we also shared our best advice for aspiring designers on the blog earlier this month. Thanks so much for following along!