Posted on December 01, 2021
Few people are as important to the making of a Reyn Spooner Aloha shirt as our in-house artists. From pencil sketch to watercolor painting to the final digitized print cut into a screen, our designers create magic that truly makes our Aloha shirts a wearable piece of art.
We wanted to celebrate one designer in particular, Vivian, who has been part of our Ohana for over 20 years and truly encapsulates the happiness and Aloha behind Reyn Spooner.
We sat down with Vivian to discuss how she got her start as a textile artist, learn about her creative process, and share the story behind this year's Hawaiian Christmas print.
How did you get into textile design?
During my junior year in college, I took an introductory textile design class and enjoyed it so much that I inquired with several Honolulu textile companies about summer jobs for students. Hawaiian Textiles was the only company that responded. I was hired and then trained by the art studio supervisor, who taught me various painting techniques and the technical aspects of creating textile art. At the end of that summer, I was asked to return to the company as a full-time employee upon graduation, and that is how my career started.
When did your career at Reyn Spooner begin?
I worked at various textile companies before being hired by Reyn Spooner. I had met owner Reyn McCullough and his son, Tim, early in my career. Tim was starting to take over more of his dad's responsibilities, and when the time was right for me, around 1990, I started freelancing for Reyn Spooner under Tim's art direction, then became a full-time employee in 1999
What is your creative process behind an original print?Whether I'm creating a floral, tapa, scenic, or conversational print, I like to do some research first to grasp the feel of the theme and motifs.
I look for authentic images and information, then decide on the painting technique and whether it’ll be a simple 2-color print or one with multiple colors. In my pencil layout, I try to include something unusual or special about the theme/motifs to add character and sometimes a little surprise. When doing a plant-type print, I look for unusual curls, curves, lines, and any other aspect of the plant which can be enhanced to create a nice flow. The little surprise in this print could be a tiny camouflaged bug.
After absorbing a lot of visuals and information, I see everything swirling in my head, which soon makes sense, and finally I feel it in my heart. Sometimes it takes longer to figure out the best way to design a print, but it's that one big step in finally putting pencil to paper that gets everything flowing. One stroke leads to the next, and then I can start imagining how the rest of the print should look. Maybe that's what "being in the zone" or "flow" means. Although artists may not always show it, the process we go through is a mental, emotional, and physical journey from start to finish.
What is the story behind this year's Hawaiian Christmas Print?
Among all of our prints in the Hawaiian Christmas series, there is only one scenic, done for 1991, which depicts winter holiday scenes over a snowy white background. The idea for the 2021 print was to create a Hawaiian themed Christmas scenic with a white ground. I imagined Santa having the time of his life basking in the warmth of the islands after being holed up at the North Pole workshop. Rather than making him a visitor to the islands, I wanted the feeling of Santa returning to his "home" and doing what locals do best. He would be back in the waves with his honu friends, then carrying his many surfboards and losing one slipper to his rascal dog. Santa would also be driving his Woody with a tree that still has to be decorated (this is Christmas Day after all), and then in another scene, another tree would be adorned with colorful Hawaiian rubber slippers. On the North Shore, Santa would be strumming his ukulele on the lanai of his comfortable beach house with his pet dog, piglet, and nene goose. Finally, Santa would be setting up a spot on the sands of Waikiki with gifts of aloha ready to be presented to his friends. Santa even would have time to build a sandman who appears to be taking a selfie.
Of the 23 Hawaiian Christmas prints I designed over the years, this year's print is one of my absolute favorites.
Mahalo nui, Vivian!
Vivian's talents in sketching, painting, and storytelling are near and dear to our hearts. Vivian's effort and attention to detail are unmatched, and we want to recognize all of the hard work behind the scenes she does to make our Aloha shirts so special.
We are beyond grateful to have a gifted artist and incredible person like you in our Ohana. Mahalo nui for the beauty you create through your artwork and for your years of dedication to Reyn Spooner!