A professional in product design and illustration for over 15 years, Shayla Johnson is an artist and textile designer living in the Detroit area. Shayla was born and raised on Florida's coast. She was trained as a product designer at the Georgia Institute of Technology earning a BS in Industrial Design in 1999 as well as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. She received her MFA in Visual Communications. In 2013 she started Scarlet Crane Creations, which specializes in handcrafted, high-quality products that feature screen-printed patterns on natural fabrics.
In March of 2017, Scarlet Crane was selected as a local vendor to showcase and sell items at a regional location of national brand, West Elm. She serves as a member of the Ocelot Print Shop, where she works within a community of local artists to promote screen printing projects and innovation within the craft.
What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?
“Representation” has meant a lot to me as of late, it seems to be one of the most effective means by which we can combat damaging stereotypes. Now more than ever, there’s a need to be intentional and thoughtful about how we represent ourselves. We must to the best of our ability control the varied images of ourselves in every sphere. I often think of those who excelled as minorities in their fields, like Katherine Johnson, the math genius celebrated in the recent film, “Hidden Figures” or Raye Montague, who broke barriers in the then-male-dominated US Navy. I love what I do and am passionate about it partly because textile design is certainly one of those industries where African-Americans are underrepresented. Each of us plays a part to show the beautiful diversity of black life and our contributions to culture. I hope to be one such example especially to young black girls that certainly the possibilities are endless.
Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?
I was trained as an Industrial Designer by way of a Bauhaus school approach which brought together all forms of art, including architecture. Hence, my inspiration continues to be the architecture and the built spaces around me. I am a minimalist and I even approach my hand-drawn floral prints in a very graphic and mechanical way, using structural dots and simple lines. The Finnish company, Marimekko maintains a similar aesthetic and continues to be an inspiration especially in terms of their dedication to the screen printing process. I'm still perfecting my own process as I integrate more super-sized motifs and giant screens into the mix. I also like the appropriate use of white space in a pattern that is common in some Ankara African prints, so my goal recently has been to achieve a nice marriage of the two.
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