Today I'm sharing the work of surface designer Mary Winklea. Mary found me on LinkedIn and contacted me via this blog.

Do you belong to LinkedIn Groups? I've joined quite a few and get daily updates in my e-mail inbox, which makes me feel like I'm up to date with what's happening in the surface/textile design industry. These are also great forums for posting questions related to surface design/trends, etc.:

Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop for Fashion Designers; Art of Licensing; CAD, Textiles and Graphics for Fashion; Creativo/Textile Design Forum; Freelance Graphic and Textile Designers; Mudpie; Printsource New York; Surface Design Association; Surface Pattern Designer; Textile Designer; Textile Professionals

To name a few :)


Hand painted tea stained linen with a retro vibe (waiting for hand embellishment). By Mary Winklea.


Anyway, thanks to LinkedIn, Mary and I got in touch and have been trading e-mails back and forth. Mary has worked as an illustrator/designer for over thirty years. A recent textile surface design graduate of FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, CA, USA), she is currently engaged in producing a line of hand painted and embroidered linen/canvas handbags & small clutches. Mary uses acrylic inks and fabric paints and sells the clutches and purses mostly at craft fairs. Each bag is an original & unique piece of art you can carry with you.

Here is a short interview with Mary:

TWIU: How would you characterize your work?

MW: I tend to use mostly floral motifs in my work. My style has been greatly influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement, Asian art and historic textiles from many cultures.

TWIU: What are your 3 biggest sources of inspiration?

MW: I have a ton of books I have collected over the years ranging in subjects such as antique quilts & textiles, lace & needle work patterns, and tapestries & carpets. I love looking at the shapes of the flowers and/or leaves and also the use of color. So I would have to say that books are my greatest source followed by my garden and magazines.


Painted canvas to be made into a clutch. By Mary Winklea.


TWIU: Who are the 3 designers/artists you most admire?

MW: Vincent Van Gogh When I was 16 I read his letters to his brother Theo in which he talked about his work and what drove him to paint and from his words I knew I was a painter! I was Van Gogh reincarnate! I had to paint! And, I haven’t stopped since then!

Vera Neumann She changed the beige face of everyday 1950’s household items (bed sheets, Kleenex boxes, dishes, etc.) into bright and splashy works of art.

William Morris I love Morris’ work. I love that he fought so hard against the smothering excesses of Victorian Decoration, to educate the public in the importance of good design based on simple, natural forms, and to honor the craftsmanship of hand made goods over the mass production of the Industrial Revolution. “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris


'Turkish carpet' by Mary Winklea, 2007. Watercolor and guache.


TWIU: What are your plans for the future?

MW: Currently I am working on my first Art Quilt. It consists of fabric I silk screened, and bits & pieces of embroidered linens and lace I found at estate sales. I love this medium because I can combine my hand painted fabric with the handwork (crochet, embroidery, etc.) of women from past generations. Also, since I know my strength is in creating and painting my designs by hand I am looking forward to partnering with a designer who has CAD skills (which I totally admire but can’t seem to grasp!) and develop a line of fabrics.


'Chrysanthemum' wallpaper detail by Mary Winklea, 2006. Watercolor.


TWIU: Why do you make surface designs?

MW: I love patterns. I love how shapes play off each other. I love the idea of making a bed into a garden, a rug into a piece of art, and bolt of fabric into a story!


Women's swimwear by Mary Winklea, 2007.


Thanks Mary for sharing your beautiful work! I really admire your mastery of what I have found to be the most difficult medium of all: watercolor. Who needs CAD skills when you can paint like this?!

To find out more about Mary, visit her blog at