Alyson Jon’s embroidery, comissioned by Allbirds.
Editor’s note: This post is continuation of our series How I Got That Gig, where craft industry professionals tell us the story behind a great commission, job, freelance opportunity, or contract. Read other stories in this series from Lib’s Elliott, Erin Weisbart, Jennifer Perkins, Amy Friend, and Heather Grant.
I am a textile surface designer who creates modern work for homes, workspaces and apparel. My business is called Alyson Jon Life. As a lover of all things surface design, I create textile prints, dye fabrics, print, sew and embroider. Oh how I love to embroider! Recently, I collaborated with Allbirds, a sustainable shoe brand, for an embroidered artwork for the employee workspace at their new Los Angeles location near Venice Beach.
This is one of my first collaborations. I am starting out on my own after years of working in the fashion industry in New York City as a designer. I use my knowledge from my professional career and the design education I earned from my alma mater, Columbus College of Art and Design.
Alyson Jon wearing a dress she made and embroidered.
The creative brief
Allbirds contacted me through an online directory for creatives of color called People of Craft. It was created to make diversifying the hiring pool easier for companies of all sorts seeking creative employees or contractors. The directory is full of highly talented people therefore I am pleased to be chosen from this pool. I had recently joined the directory with my typographic embroidery at the forefront rather than a photo of my face. My typographic embroidery uses a lot of geometric shapes, modern color palettes and sometimes beads. Nature and typography are my main inspiration.
Allbirds also uses nature as inspiration for their concepts. The project outline was for me to focus on the natural habitat of Los Angeles. My first thought was to zero in on the mountains of the Los Angeles basin rather than the more obvious beach or palm trees. As a Midwesterner, who had lived for years on the East Coast, the mountains are a defining feature of Los Angeles to me.
Developing the piece
The piece needed to be 11”x14” which is somewhat large for an embroidered piece. My choice of mountains surprised the Allbirds team, but I was encouraged to go with that inspiration. The piece needed to incorporate the name of the city of the location. Each of the Allbirds locations has its own city-specific color scheme to make each store unique. The dominant color for the Los Angeles location is Sunset Orange. According to their guidelines, various shades of Sunset Orange can be used in my piece along with black and white.
I chose embroidery floss that was similar to Sunset Orange along with a range of softer and deeper shades. Southern California is known for its gorgeous sunsets, so I wanted to capture that beauty in my piece. Besides, heavenly bodies like the sun and the moon are prominent in my own work. I chose aida cloth for the stark white background even though I typically use natural muslin for my work.
Alyson Jon’s Embroidery for Allbirds
Alyson Jon’s embroidery in the Allbirds LA office
Completing the collaboration
Using my stash of downloaded fonts on my computer, I found a font that expressed the relaxed and modern culture of Los Angeles. After I printed “Los Angeles” from my computer, I traced it onto another piece of paper. My design was drawn around the words to make sure that I incorporate the text style with the lines of my piece. I created two draft sketches. I fell in love with the second sketch but submitted both to Allbirds before proceeding with the final embroidery. They also loved the second sketch.
My next step was to convert the second sketch to vector. I do this to make my lines clean and precise. I then used my Cricut Explore Air to draw my vector sketch on the aida cloth. Then, I embroidered the cloth using satin stitch and chain stitch. My stitches are simple because my work focuses mainly on color and the abstract design.
It excites me to create inspiring embroidery for the Allbirds employees to enjoy during their work hours. I look forward to creating more work for the spaces that people live and work in.
A Columbus, Ohio native, Alyson Jon holds a degree in Fashion Design from Columbus College of Art and Design. After working 10 years in the New York fashion industry, Alyson founded her business, Alyson Jon Life, to unite her interests in surface pattern design, illustration, jewelry design, and embroidery. Alyson currently resides in Los Angeles, with her partner, Angel and her maltese, Zeus.