Meet Virginia Odien, winner of our design contest, and creator of our new Hello Sunshine collection!by Alisha
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Last August, Connecting Threads held its first-ever fabric design contest. In just a month’s time, we received over 1,000 design entries and more than 67,000 votes from customers. When the results were tallied, the prevailing winner was Virginia Odien.
Since August, we have had the privilege of working with Virginia to further develop her collection. We are so excited to finally introduce this wonderful line to the rest of the world. (Drumroll please) Meet Hello Sunshine!
Given that the collection’s original working name was Laundry Day (now the name of one of the prints), we thought this photo was very fitting!
We recently had the opportunity to chat with Virginia in an interview. We hope you’ll follow along and learn more about this wonderfully creative woman. We absolutely adore her!
Can you give us a little run down on who you are, where you’re from, what you do, etc.?
Oh what a big question! It seems that I’ve worn many hats over the years. Wife, mother, manager, community college teacher, stage manager, costumer, beader, seamstress, crafter; you name it, I’ve tried it on to see how it fit.
I was born in Japan and moved to the states when I was just a baby. I grew up in Riverside, California where I still reside. During the day I work in an office, at night I work at designing surface design. At all times I'm wife to Bill and mom to Liam and Zoë.
You’ve been designing with Spoonflower.com for some time now. When did you get started, and what made you take the leap into textile design? Do you quilt?
I got started with Spoonflower in the fall of 2009. I saw an opportunity to see my graphics on fabric (very thrilling), however I noticed right away I had a lot to learn to compete with the existing offerings and decided I could get better...did I mention I love a challenge? I came in 2nd in one of the Spoonflower design contests and that was enough to nudge me into thinking I could do surface design.
I am an elementary quilter. I can sew almost anything but quilting stretches my math abilities (can I give a shout out to all quilters: I’m in awe of quilters who can see a finished quilt in their mind and then just make it!). I’d like to attempt a quilt that is more than sandwiching 2 pieces of fabric and batting together. I do almost all of my designing with quilters in mind though.
How was the design process with Connecting Threads different from Spoonflower? Did you find it easier or more difficult?
I loved learning how Connecting Threads produces their finished product, it’s much more involved in terms of how many colors one can use, how thick or thin lines will reproduce and how long it takes to see the digital file turn into fabric. It was different than producing a digital file to be printed on fabric. It wasn’t necessarily harder - just different. A new challenge! I also learned that it's much easier to send Illustrator vector files so I got Illustrator and will never have to say (with much chagrin) that I don’t have a AI file available to send! I truly loved working directly with the staff at Connecting Threads - everyone was so nice and very helpful to me.
When you saw our design contest, what motivated you to submit your artwork?
I love the process of someone giving me a theme and then seeing if I can make that theme speak to others. The CT contest was wide-open: I could do designs in different categories and there was the challenge aspect to it. Could I compete with as many people as I thought would enter? By the time I submitted my design there were already a ton of submissions and a lot of them were unbelievably good. There was also the aspect of wondering if the quilting community would see my design as good for quilting. I want to please quilters and I want to give them designs they might not be able to find in local stores.
What inspired the designs in Hello Sunshine? Is there any story behind it?
When I was a kid most people didn’t have dryers. Everyone hung their laundry. I loved helping my mom hang wet laundry. I loved the snap that wet laundry made when you shook it out before you put on the line. I loved the smell of dried laundry after everything dried. There is a crispness to air dried laundry that can’t be replicated in a dryer (although sometimes a stiff pair of jeans just won’t do!) 4 or 5 months prior to the Connecting Threads contest I’d done a Leprechaun Laundry Day design at Spoonflower which won the Leprechaun contest there and I thought I could change it up to be more universal for all seasons. I wanted something to reflect my memories of backyard laundry on a breezy sunny day.
How does it feel to see your collection on our site? Is it surreal?
Surreal is too mild of a word! I’ve dreamt of seeing my designs out in the world. It’s huge to me, it’s life-changing to know that strangers around the world might choose to make something with their hands and heart using my designs. So far I’ve stopped myself from walking up to perfect strangers and saying: “Hey! Look at this! I made this!” It’s only been 3 years since I got brave enough to show others my work - it’s a big step for me to show people that I have a story to tell and to realize that maybe others might understand what I’m trying to say. It’s pretty incredible to me.
If Connecting Threads held another design contest, would you enter again?
Absolutely. I still dream of making designs every day. To continue to tell my story so others can tell their story. I dream of becoming a designer that works with a company so I can do what I truly love all day long. Entering the Connecting Threads contest made me a better designer, gave me a fantastic challenge (so did all the other designers who entered as a lot of them were so good!). A huge thank you to everyone at Connecting Threads for making my dream come true.