Interview (Part II): Josephine Kimberling

josephine_kimberling_1232662566On Friday, we met graphic/surface pattern designer Josephine Kimberling. For Part II today, we take a closer look at her debut collection for Robert Kaufman, Hot Blossom.

It occurred to me that I would love to hear more about designers’ processes and the inspiration/work/motivation behind each colorway and print in their collections. Knowing more context always seems to make prints even more attractive to me, and I’m betting you feel the same way. Let me hear your thoughts, and I’ll be sure to use the same format for future interviews!

Can you tell us about Hot Blossom? How would you describe the three colorways and the overall color story? Can you go through each print and tell us a little about it, its inspiration/backstory, and how it fits into the overall collection?

Sure! The Hot Blossom collection is a compilation of all of my favorite types of prints – flowers, butterflies, geometrics, medallions and paisleys, so I set out to create a collection that had a flavor of all of these elements. OK, so I truly love a LOT of different types of prints!!

As far a color goes, I had initially created different color stories, and then revised that first round through collaboration with Robert Kaufman. I love where we ended up! I really wanted to have collections based around neutral colors as I wanted people to have the option to be able to create something to wear out of them, in a real-world way.


The Spring color story has been a key one in the marketplace, especially in home décor for some time now…and my home is built around this color palette too. I just love blues, greens and chocolate! I was really excited that this color story saw it through to the end.


The Sunset color story was collaboration between Robert Kaufman and I. I originally had it with dark gray instead of black. The black definitely makes the collection more marketable, so I was excited for the change – I definitely want my fabrics to sell! : ) It’s so great to partner with a company who is an expert in their industry.


The Fiesta color story was one that Robert Kaufman came up with. I think it turned out really fun, and I usually hear that this is people’s favorite color story, which is exciting! Again, they know what they’re doing!! It definitely has a ‘70s vibe, which is wonderful because I love the look of that decade!!

As far as the Hot Blossom prints go, here’s the back-story of each of the prints …


Hot Blossom: I absolutely love dahlias and set-out to create a multi-colored floral print with outlines and filled in color. I hand-drew the flowers, and when I was putting the print in repeat, I felt it was missing something because it was so spaced out, and I really like dense prints. So I took the geometric that I originally designed as an accent print that I didn’t feel was working, and put it behind the floral. Magic happened and I completely fell in love with the contrast between a beautiful floral and a geometric!


Butterflies: Again, I love butterflies. In trend, they were being talked about for spring, and the most unique fashionable way was using just their wings to create what looks like an animal print from far away. I knew that was more of a fashion type of print, but still wanted to create something with butterflies, so I sat down and drew about a few different butterflies to create a print with. I also needed a print with a smaller amount of color in it, so it could balance the collection.


Medallions: And I love medallions…a lot. This idea started from my sketchbook. I usually draw medallion type of shapes, so in my sketchbook there were a variety of them, and I wanted to make the print unique by using 4 different medallions instead of repeating the same one over and over. I just kept playing with design ideas until I created 4 that worked well together.


Paisley: Aaawww. This one holds a special place in my heart. One day I sat down to create a paisley-type of print. I was not feeling very inspired, and was feeling kinda down about how much time I was spending creating all these prints, and wondering if anything would ever come of it all. (Over the past 10 years I had tried to set out to do my own thing with the doors closing each time.) I was practically in tears over it. So I forced myself to just sit and draw/doodle anything that came to my mind. I ended up with all of these elements which didn’t look very spectacular in how I drew them, but when I started piecing them together and laying them out, everything started coming together into this pretty paisley, and it gave me a little glimmer of hope to keep pressing on.


Small Floral: When I was doodling the elements I used for the paisley, the flower and swooping elements were part of them. They didn’t end up in the paisley, so I started playing with the left-over elements to create a small floral. I knew I needed a small and simpler print to work back to the others, and once designed, this one played well with the others!


Wallpaper: This one originated from my sketchbook doodles. Two color wallpaper prints have become quite a staple in the marketplace. I wanted to attempt something in my own style, and create something that was a cross between a wallpaper and a geometric – I just love mixing prints up. I wasn’t sure what the shape around the wallpaper floral should be, so I spent some time just sketching out lots of different shapes till I came up with something semi-modern that I thought would work.


Hexagons: I also love geometrics quite a bit. The hexagon was pretty big in trend at the time I created it, but I didn’t see anything out there created for fabric. I wanted to make something a little more unique and mixed-up, so I started creating hexagons with “stripes” inside of them. I knew I needed a print to work back to the larger scale prints, and I wanted to offer something that wasn’t too feminine.


Stripe: This concept originated from the ombre and dip dyed trends. I wanted to create a stripe that had that feeling – of stripes flowing into each other, and thought it would work really well with the other bohemian-pretty prints.

Hot Blossom is officially a quilting cotton collection, but it seems to be very versatile — suitable for garments (no surprise given your background) and home decor — was that intentional?

Yes, it definitely was. I set out knowing that I wanted to create prints that could be worn first, and then used for home décor second – and knowing that crafters can make fabulous things out of anything. Some of the prints I find work for both industries, but most all of them I feel work for creating garments out of them. When creating the prints I would always question myself “Can I see someone wearing this?” “Can I see someone putting this in their home?” It helped me focus and make decisions while creating my artwork to work that way.

Can you tell us a little about your design process — do you sketch? Paint? Strictly computer?

I always keep a sketch book and sketch ideas as they pop into my head. Sometimes my ideas come in groups of a couple of patterns that would work together, and sometimes they come in the form of one great intricate pattern. Either way I sketch out my thought so I can visually capture it for future use. When I get ready to design a collection I think about what I want the overall feel to be, and what those key patterns would be to express that overall feel. I start creating the main, key prints, then round out the group with accent prints that pull the group together. Once I’ve got my main ideas for the prints down, I then choose the design process that will best allow me to create that print with the look I desire. Sometimes I hand-draw my artwork to get nice curves and natural imperfections, and sometimes I’ll use Illustrator for a more graphic, clean look. Either way though, I bring everything into the computer to put it into repeat and create the colorways.

For the Hot Blossom collection, for example, the paisley print, the butterflies and the small floral are hand-drawn, and I assembled the repeat in Photoshop. The wallpaper print I drew directly in Photoshop, and the hexagons, stripe and medallions I drew in Illustrator. The hot blossom floral print is a compilation of hand-drawn flowers with a geometric drawn in Illustrator, all assembled in Photoshop.

What is next for you?

I would really like to continue creating fabric collections! Right now I’ve got a licensing portfolio of over 40 prints (and growing), and would love to shop my work around to be able to have my art on a larger variety of products – paper products, gift wrap, plates, wallpaper, home décor, etc. I really enjoy so many different industries and would love the opportunity to work within a variety of them. We’ll see!

Thank you so much, Josephine! We wish you much success for Hot Blossom and the future collections that are sure to follow!


  1. malinda says:

    what a great interview – I seriously need to get hip to the vocabulary – color story vs. coloway? I think I get it, but hmmm.

    Her collection is very inspiring!

  2. Thanks so much for the interview Kim! I really appreciate your support of a new artist. It’s been so great chatting with you and I am so glad I found your blog. Here’s wishing you a fab new year in your blogging!!

  3. Melanie O says:

    I think it’s no secret that this is one of my favorite collections so far this year. I especially love the Spring & Fiesta colorways, so fresh and so retro at the same time! I love the Hot Blossom & the Paisley fabrics because I think they just look so different from anything else I’ve seen. And, the Hexagon and the Medallion are great, too! Great interview, it is so fun to learn about the design process!

  4. Cheryl says:

    Thank you so much for the interview with Kim. She is certainly a very talented artist, and I will be looking for her fabric. I love the paisleys, and her fabrics are in such great colors, something that I would actually use!

    You did a great job, asking very interesting and in depth questions!

  5. angel says:

    Wonderful and informative interview. Great questions, beautiful fabrics. Thank you!