IVORY ELLA X LAUREN JAMES
June 19, 2018
Travis Gibbs, Art Director for Lauren James
Three fun facts: My family and I have a rescue dog named Maple, I've been with Lauren James since it started (2013) and a lot of people wear items I've designed, but don't know who I am!
Q: What inspired these designs?
A: I'm always given a direction and then I kind of just run with it. Everything is hand done first, which is a style I've re-developed over the past couple of years. Its summer and we knew these colors would pop, so the designs tend to pick up on that intention. When I look at my creations I think they have a "Disney-esk" or whimsical quality to them, which helps develop their character and personality without even really trying. I also work from home and have my son around for daily inspiration. We go for walks a lot so I get a good amount of my style ideas from nature.
*Another fun fact: I was glad to hear we'd be working with you [Ivory Ella] again because I was already into drawing elephants. I mainly drew (and draw) them because of my connection with the University of Alabama (that's their mascot, Big Al).
Q: What is your favorite thing about collaborations like this?
A: It's exciting to be able to create something different and I like the challenge of making two brands work together as one. One is always more prevalent than the other and its fun finding that balance; its like problem solving. Also, the elephants I draw end up coming to life in a different way than I originally would have imagined. For example, when working with you [Ivory Ella] I get to create outside of the outline (no pun intended), which is the company's logo. Its kind of like messing around with your signature elephant, but once we did the first collaboration, it ended up being well received. So, this time around I already knew what direction I wanted to go in and felt good about it.
Q: Once the shirt colors were picked did you feel like the designs came to life? Is it hard to match a design with a color?
A: I have swatches of the shirt colors so I know what I'm working with beforehand, but it can always turn out differently once they are actually printed. For this collection, I tried to make designs that would work with any color—some designs have a lot of colors within them so it was a little tricky, but the blend ended up telling a unique story of its own. Sometimes things look better on the shirt rather than on my screen, which most of the time leaves me feeling pleasantly surprised.
Q: Out of this 12 piece collection, which design is your favorite and why?
A: I like the flag ones the best (Blue Americana and Light Blue Americana). The design reminds me of my son, Abraham. I remember when I first drew the design out I sent the sketch to my wife and her response was, "It looks like just like Abraham." Also, when I look at the design, it has a timeless feel to it—like the old Tommy Hilfiger, Old Navy and Ralph Lauren designs and those bring me back to my childhood. Overall, it was a fun design to create and brings forth a lot of feel good vibes.
Q: Walk us through your process... do you sketch first? What's your favorite program to use?
A: I always try to start out with pencil and my huge sketchbook. I'll start by building a character and then ink it in over the pencil. I then scan the drawing and use my Wacom tablet to bring it to life. I use a variation of brushes to color with in Illustrator. Sometimes I use Photoshop to clean up the design if i've inked it in beforehand. For certain projects PS ends up being a bit easier for me because the brushes are more forgiving, help save some time and allow me to create pretty freely.
For this recent collection I started off in pencil and ended up liking the more simple designs the best—they have a "life is good" vibe to them. The collection as a whole is a compilation of feel good shirts. I believe that anyone can wear them at any age, which revisits the timeless component.