Many hands, heads and hearts have come together to make our first custom-designed print a reality, and one of the key people who have helped us transform our vision into reality is Auckland-based surface designer, Amber Rixon. We sit down with Amber to learn more about her inspiration, work, and what it was like working on The Great Outdoors print.
Hi Amber, please tell us more about yourself. What sparked the interest in textile design? Please tell us more about your journey into the realm of designing on textiles.
Amber: Hi! I discovered a fascination with the wallpaper throughout my Grandad's house in Taupo when I was young. I would spend hours immersed in the patterns, counting how many times they repeated around the room, I was captivated. This discovery emerged at a significant time in my life, I was in the process of overcoming a Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It was liberating to realise that this fascination was not a manifestation of my disorder, but rather a genuine passion for exploring a new world of textiles.
Nostalgia and reminiscing about my favourite clothes in my 90’s teenage years is still a favourite pastime, my love for textiles definitely translated to clothing here, each piece was very much treasured. My favourite pieces had floating daisies, grungy stripes and everything was green or brown! I also loved all the 90s surf and skate brand graphics too, so cool. They all possessed an enchanting quality that really captured my spirit at the time. When I was older I started sewing and using textiles as a medium, creating clothes for bands, I then studied fashion and started my own little brand. I moved to Portland for a short while and when I came back a new degree in textiles had started at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), I knew I had to do it.
So I went back to uni to study a Bachelor of Design of Textiles in Fashion. While studying I started another small brand called Winter & Rixon as well as another part-time job to get by. I graduated with the realisation I still had a lot to learn about the business side to the industry, so I spent the next six months researching and creating a portfolio. I knew I wanted to showcase at the Premiere Vision (Textile) trade show, I went to Paris to meet with the curator of prints, I decided to showcase at NYC Premiere Vision 6 months later. Once in New York, I needed to build connections and friendships within the industry and to expand my knowledge of the business which is super closed-lipped, so I was in total hustle mode, I showed 3 times in 12 months and my friend Lynn who I had met at Premiere Vision became my NY based agent so I was able to work remotely from New Zealand.
Where do you draw inspiration from when creating your prints, and how would you describe your style?
Amber: I draw my inspiration from a combination of my youthful nostalgia for the 90s/00s and the beauty of nature, specifically English gardens and wildflowers. The natural elements often form the basis of my designs, allowing me to create pieces that evoke some sense of harmony and dreaminess. I am also captivated by the transformative years of the 60s and 70s. The explosion of creativity during that era greatly influences my own artistic process. I find myself drawn to the eccentricities, art, music, and overall vibes of that time. When it comes to defining my style, I'm not quite certain what label best captures it, but I hope all the above influences come through in my work.
Amber in the Cropped Shirt in Mountain Print.
I’m glad our paths crossed, and we had a chance to work with you to create this unique print for our garments. How has this collaboration been different from the designs you have created in the past and what did you enjoy about it?
Amber: Working with you on this collaboration has been a lovely experience. This project is different to my previous collaborations as you provided me with the photos you wanted to transform into a pattern. Usually, I create patterns by drawing or painting based on a given brief. This time, however, I enjoyed the challenge of overlaying the images and creating a story within them. It allowed me to interpret the photographs in a way that fits beautifully with your brand. Overall, I had a lot of fun exploring this new approach and working together with you.
This print has been inspired by Aotearoa’s great outdoors, and like you, we love drawing inspiration from nature. What are some of your favourite/ quintessential Kiwi spots?
Amber: I love a good coastline, the stunning beaches of Muriwai, Piha, Raglan, and Waihi. Away from the beach I have a special place in my heart for Taupo, where my family is from. The lake is so magical and peaceful and I love making a little hot pool in the sand.
What medium do you usually use to create these prints?
Amber: I usually work with gouache. I like this medium due to its ability to be reused easily, it can be rewetted and used like watercolours or it can have a super opaque finish. I then scan each motif into Photoshop, meticulously cut them out, and then arrange them into a pattern. I also love drawing, so it’s a real mix of the two.
Which is your favourite piece from the capsule?
Amber: I’m very much a shirt wearer so I love the Cropped Shirt, I also LOVE the Pareo Wrap Skirt, so two favourites for me please!
What’s next on the cards for you?
Amber: I am always working on my library of prints. I would love to go back to my roots and work with bands again, creating graphics for merchandise.
Special thanks to Amber for being a part of this interview, and our photographer for the feature, Cindy Leong.