Becka Rahn is a fiber artist and fabric designer. Her work includes original designs and manipulated photographs that are digitally printed on to fabric. With these engineered prints, she creates wearable and wall art pieces using couture sewing techniques and hand embroidery and embellishment.
Becka Rahn is the co-author of The Spoonflower Handbook, a guide to digital fabric and surface design. She worked for 11 years as the director of education at the Textile Center (www.textilecentermn.org) where she taught and developed fiber art curriculum for all ages. Becka is an award winning designer and has been a presenter at the Surface Design Association international conference and several regional and national fiber art symposia. She was awarded the 2013 Spun Gold award through Textile Center for her contributions to the field of fiber art.
I design by collecting and connecting. I collect ideas, photos, inspiration, and fragments of designs, and then allow those elements to congregate for days or months or years before I see the way something connects and fits together like the pieces of a puzzle. It’s less a linear journey, and more a process of waiting, watching, and knowing when to bring it together. There is both a patience and an anticipation to what I do, and the tension between is the source of my creativity.
There is a similar tension in the individual pieces I design and create. Every piece I make has two components: foresight and retrospection. As a two dimensional layout that will be transformed into a three dimensional object, the surface design itself always looks forward. Imagine a flat piece of paper that has been folded into an origami crane. To place the designs and colors on the finished piece, I have to understand and create the flat pattern that puts each element in its place. I design each curve, fold, and element of the finished piece before I cut or stitch anything. I work with depth and layers—creating combinations of images that, together, tell a different story than their component parts. My goal is to design something unexpected, not so much to “trick” the eye, but to give the eye something interesting to do.
In contrast, when I turn the surface design—the fabric—into an actual garment, I tend to design clothing that is retrospective. I often use vintage patterns, sewing techniques, and silhouettes, because these kinds of classic, timeless lines allow the surface pattern to be the feature and focal point. These quintessential, iconic forms help elicit the feeling of something familiar. When people look at my garments, I want them to make a connection to the piece, whether through nostalgia or a memory.