In today's Designer Spotlight you'll learn all about Rachel Erickson of Citrus & Mint Designs, who designs fabric collections for Riley Blake Designs!
Rachel hails from the always beautiful, and almost always humid, Florida. Like many other designers at Riley Blake, she is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom who discovered illustration while searching for a hobby to maintain her sanity at home with two little children.
Rachel comes from a long line of seamstresses who she constantly disappoints with her aversion to "measuring twice, cutting once." Illustrating is her passion. She is drawn to bright colors and a hand-drawn whimsical style, though she has to remind herself often that not everyone loves orange as much as she does.
When she isn't illustrating, you can find her sipping diet coke while playing "kitty tornado water slide" with her son (don't ask), drawing baby animals with her daughter (mostly kitties), or combing the beach for more tiny shells and shark teeth to add to her borderline obsessive collection.
When did you realize you had a passion for design?
I’ve always loved to create and collect art. I come from a long line of creative matriarchs who crave to make things beautiful, each in their own way. My grandma is a watercolor artist and taught me the basics of art. My mother is an interior designer and taught me the basics of aesthetics and design. I knew how to pick out good art; however I was always frustrated because I didn’t have the skills or tools to create what I saw in my head. Then after I quit my job to stay home with my first child, I discovered Adobe Illustrator and everything clicked. I finally found the medium that allows me to express my ideas in the way that I want them expressed.
Describe your aesthetic in 3 words.
Your newest collections Lancelot and Guinevere are now available on fabric.com! What was the inspiration behind these collections?
I came up with this idea 4 years ago, before I ever thought about designing fabric. My daughter was 3 years old and obsessed with princesses. She woke me up every morning with a different princess dress to wear for the day and sang princess songs in a high Snow White voice. I wanted to create something for her that was more childlike and retro than the standard princess products. I loved what I created and held onto it until the right project came along.
You partnered with Riley Blake to launch your line of fabrics. What made them the perfect partner for you?
The people working at Riley Blake are the best! I am completely new to the world of fabric design, which means I need a lot of help. They are so encouraging and always willing to walk me through all the steps necessary to accomplish the end goal.
If you had to choose one favorite fabric or product that you’ve designed, what would it be and why?
Probably the main lion print from the Lancelot collection. I wanted him to have lots of character, but I couldn’t get him to look just right (sometimes as adults we overthink art). One afternoon I asked my daughter to sit and draw some lions with me. I took inspiration from her to draw the lions that you see on the fabric, so the credit for his cuteness really goes to her.
What are your current favorite trends in sewing / quilting?
I love that embroidery is coming back! Sometimes it adds just the right amount of texture and personality that a piece needs to truly be complete. I find myself adding embroidery to all my quilting and sewing projects.
What do you love most about creating a DIY project with your fabric (or seeing customers creating DIY projects with your fabric)?
This is my first collection, so I’m still just in awe that it exists and that people want to create with my designs! There’s something magical about creativity inspiring more creativity.
*Pendant quilt by Mindy Carlson (pattern by Cluck Cluck Sew) and photos by Michelle Salomons
What projects are on your “must make” list right now?
I want to make little button up shirts for my son in every single Lancelot fabric, even though he refuses to wear “church shirts” on any day but Sunday.
What other blogs/brands/designers inspire you most?
I hoarded some Sarah Jane fabric years before I had kids or even a sewing machine. Just because I loved it. Her illustration style is so personal and imaginative. That’s the same reason that I love Heather Ross. She always throws in something ordinary but completely unexpected.
What’s coming up for you in 2018? What’s next?
There’s a new fabric collection for Riley Blake Designs called Wild Bouquet coming out this fall that is inspired by my vacation last summer hiking among the mountain wildflowers. I’m excited to sew all kinds of skirts, shirts, and bags for myself with it! For the spring 2019 collection, my daughter is requesting fabric with “all her favorite animals” which is pretty much every land and sea animal on earth, so she’s probably going to be a little disappointed.
What do you love to do when you aren’t designing and creating?
Tell us one thing people might not know about you.
In high school, my AP art portfolio just barely passed with a 3. My keystone piece was a painting covered in newspaper articles splattered with red and black paint (a la Jackson Pollock) except for a white box on the side which contained a childlike drawing of a family. It represented the family as a protection from the world or something like that. This was "serious" art, haha. My art teacher had a list of forbidden subjects for our projects—unicorns, rainbows, cats, etc. I wonder what he would think of my art now, which pretty much solely consists of the items on that list.
Want to check out all of Citrus & Mint's fabrics? Click here to shop!