On the Surface



On your mark? Getting set? Ready to go test your talents, timing, and temerity, big-time, at SURTEX 2016?

Takes guts, especially the first time around. Putting one’s art on the line, in the limelight, also calls for confidence, commitment, and hard work, years of it, according to these newcomers who will be exhibiting their art at SURTEX for the first time this May.


Why this year? we asked. Was there a decisive “Aha” moment?

Rhonda Addison, Great Falls, MT, still describes that moment breathlessly: “So here I was, after flying yet again to Seattle, lugging all my portfolios and rolling luggage ensemble into one of the beautiful home decor stores that carries my art, and trying to look calm and professional as I spread out my collections.”


The owner/buyer intervened: “How in the world are you managing to create, produce, and sell your art to all these stores throughout the country? Have you ever heard of SURTEX?”

“What a wonderful concept!  I checked into it (consulted my think tank, consisting of me, myself, and I)… and signed up immediately!”

SURTEX will be a new step forward for Rhonda, who has been creating art since she was a four-year-old, intent on “making the world a happier place.

“My first serious endeavor was collecting and painting murals on the back of stinkbugs! It was grueling, the wigglyness, not to mention the smell…. I would paint their little backs and set them free to go show their families!”

Today, some 30-plus years of making art later, Rhonda is a fine art photographer with a background in graphic design and art direction, living “somewhere in the middle of Montana” with her art-collecting husband. And a new animal muse: “This humble, sorrowful looking donkey. I often decorate him with all things sparkly and photograph him.  He has become my branding image with the tag line “…just trying to make the world a bit more fancy…”


Emma McGowan, Brighton, England, is one of the artists who gave rise to the new joint-venture, Four Corners Art Collective (the six other members are Jane Kirkpatrick of Glasgow and Julie Anson of Inverkip, Scotland: Beth Schneider of Chicago; Pippa Shaw of Aix-en-Provence, France; Kevin Brackley and Jocelyn Proust of Australia).


Emma relates, “SURTEX has been in my sights for a few years now, so when we launched Four Corners, it was one of the very first things we discussed. The question wasn’t would we do SURTEX, it was when. In the end, we just felt why wait another whole year? We want to discover those opportunities now.”

In a cooperative like Four Corners, how does an artist make his/her work stand out?

Emma’s ready answer: “I was born in Wimbledon, home of English lawn tennis, and lived in Scotland for many years. Now I live in a quintessentially English seaside town called Brighton on the south coast of the UK and I think my work reflects all that British heritage…. and there’s often a little bit of edge to my work that I think is typically British.”


Amy Frazer, Amy L. Frazer Design and Illustration, LLC, Portland, OR,is coming to SURTEX because ” I wanted to get back to my roots as an illustrator and pattern designer after a diverse career in design and product development at companies large and small, such as Nike, Old Navy, and Galerie Au Chocolat.


“The voice inside me continued to get louder and stronger. I had to answer the call!” Amy started her company in 2015 and says, “I haven’t looked back.”

However, she does look back to her home for inspiration: “I live in Portland and love being surrounded by nature and the incredibly creative community. Both have been crucial in the startup of my company.”

She expects to find new sources of inspiration at SURTEX, says Amy, who will be part of the new Design District, also making its debut at the show. “There will be a tremendous energy in the group!”



Misha Zadeh (Graham) Illustration & Design, Seattle — Her earlier success with her stationery line, Turquoise Creative, has inspired Misha to broaden her focus as a surface pattern designer, she reports, and “SURTEX seems the perfect stage to relaunch myself. I’m excited to be creating artwork for use in other product categories — particularly fabrics, housewares, and the children’s market.”

So after nearly 19 years as a graphic designer, how has she prepped for the plunge into surface design? 1. Took Lilla Rogers’ Make Art That Sells Home Decor class and “learned a lot about the home decor market.” 2. Studies fabric design both in online courses and a plethora of books. 3. Watches trends — “I’ve always kept an eye on trends, but find myself more interested in creating work that is more timeless than trendy.”


Sampson Black, Black Studio, Celebration, FL — “This is the perfect time to be at SURTEX!” enthuses Sampson, half of the team behind the namesake studio (business partner daughter, Lorrie).

Sampson recently completed her MBA (“with years of art classes under my belt”), she explained, and says 2016 “feels like an excellent year to draw all of my resources together and present my surface pattern designs.”


“Stumbling” upon SURTEX through online research, Sampson reports being enticed by the brand-new Design District and the possibility of the kind of networking and design focus she’d been looking for.

And when potential clients come looking in the Black Studio booth what will they find?

“Surface patterns and artwork that are, in some way, inspired by nature,” Sampson says. “Drawing directly from the natural environment gives a quality that’s warm and inviting because nature is never out of style.”