Meet Rebekah Lowell

author beginner fine art illustration immersion course 2020 kitchen textiles mom pod quilting sewing united states wholesale

Before I began learning the world of surface pattern design through Immersion, I had just earned my MFA from Hollins University (as a single mom) and was working on my career in children’s literature— writing and illustrating middle grade novels and picture books. In 2013, I left a decade of domestic abuse, with my two young daughters, and was finding myself again through my art. Since then, I haven’t slowed down. I love what I do and will always create. The work I was making for my children’s books was traditional. Using materials like watercolors, colored pencils, gouache, I loved telling stories with tactile paints, brushes, pencils, and paper. I still do. 

In addition to narrative illustration, I had always wanted to learn how to create repeat patterns, but hadn’t gotten there yet. Then, one day, I thought, what if? What if learned how to make patterns? What if I created artwork for fabric? What would my patterns look like? 

As a child, I used to make quilts with my mom. We had a quilting night at her friend’s house on Thursdays that I looked forward to all week. I made my first crib quilt there when I was only 10 years old. I’ve since tragically lost that quilt because of quickly leaving that abusive home. I’ve searched for that quilt (so many times) among what I was able to save but haven’t found it. I still think about that quilt almost everyday. It was a white and red four-square design made with a fruit-patterned fabric and solid colors. There were hand-quilted hearts, I had stitched so carefully, in the white squares. I think my mom quilted some of them, too. It makes my heart hurt to think my daughters might never see that quilt. I wanted to pass it on. (I thought about my children at 10.) 

What if I could make fabric now that my mom would use? My mom still loves to quilt and I wanted to make fabric for her to sew with.  

What if?  

I had began looking for ways to learn surface pattern design and came across Bonnie Christine on Creative Live first, then Skillshare, then made my way to her website and email list so I could find out more. It was not long before I knew I wanted to take Immersion and dive right in. 

I watched every lesson, attended every live, and soaked it all in eagerly. 

One of the most exciting aspects to Immersion for me was the way that we were encouraged to tell a story through our pattern collections. As a writer, and narrative illustrator, this made me so happy to be able to weave in storytelling and pull a collection together as a whole. I also love color and finding out about colorways was exciting. Learning how to make a collection cohesive through color, and even use color as part of the story, was a fun challenge. 

I was equally thrilled to find out we could paint with traditional materials and use those pieces of painted artwork to scan in and create digital repeating patterns.

With tools like ink, brushes, pens, and watercolor, I painted pages and pages of motifs and brought them together in stories and patterns, to repeat endlessly. 

In Immersion, I created my first pattern collection in two colorways. After that, I couldn’t stop making patterns, and in fact, since then, I have created three collections and am working on a fourth. 

This past holiday season, I launched my first set of physical products— a four-piece collection of silkscreened flour sack towels, featuring patterns from my fourth collection. And yes, a story holds their threads together. It is one of freedom, hope, and resisting conformity. A single bird flies against the wind, a feather isn’t afraid to stand out, a bluebird challenges perfection, and footprints make their own path. I’ve began to sell the flour sack towels through my own online shop, at local markets, and even dipped my toes into wholesaling them through Maine Audubon, and other local shops, with hopes of branching out this year. 

After learning the world of surface pattern design through Immersion, I feel confident in my Adobe Illustrator skills, and in my collection creation skills. I’ve pulled three full collections together in a portfolio, and am on the cusp of submitting to fabric companies with ambitions of becoming licensed with my own fabric collection. Before Immersion, licensing a fabric collection was a whisper in the wind, and now it feels attainable, even inevitable, with hard work and persistence. I know that I have the skills now to make it happen. It's only a matter of submitting, and that's next!

If you are on the fence about taking Immersion, I would encourage you to go for it, because if you don’t you will always wonder, what if?