As if it were yesterday, I remember creating my little colorful painting “masterpieces” in the backyard when I was 9 years old and then walking around the neighborhood convincing all of our neighbors to buy what I had created! I guess in looking back, you could say that both art and marketing have been in my blood since I was very young!
When we emigrated to the U.S. from Poland in 1975, my dad literally had a few thousand dollars in his pocket, a desire to make a better home for his family and a passion for building his own small business. We are the classic immigrant story. My sister and I grew up working in the family business in one way or another until we moved away from home. Once I was an adult, my dad still loved to “talk shop” whenever there was an opportunity, except that it was my growing business, Fig Tree, that we were discussing! He was involved in every step of our business in the early days and I can see him in every part of Fig Tree now that he is gone. Even though Fig Tree is definitely “all me”, I see it as his legacy.
My desire to create something new, almost always starts with the color inspiration itself. There is something about color that draws me in and won’t let me go until I work it out. I always teach my students that unbelievable color combinations are everywhere if we can only train our eyes to see them. Certain colors or designs that we might see everyday, suddenly look fresh and totally new when put together into an unexpected combination. I love that!
My designs, both for fabric & for quilting, always start with the color palette. I work with vintage fabric swatches, my flower garden, wrapping paper, children’s illustrations from the early part of the last century, flea market finds, antique quilts to start finding color combinations that speak to me. The palette dictates the designs themselves and slowly a collection grows. When people ask me about my process, I usually call myself a hybrid fabric designer. I like to use many different mediums and techniques to create my designs including vintage fabrics, painting doodles, computer art, line drawings, just to name a few. ~Joanna Figueroa
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