Creating a pattern, no matter how sprawling it may become, starts with something small.
Southern Creed is a Southern lifestyle brand offering a variety of products in principal and designer Rebecca Thomason’s signature patterns. Thomason sat down with Invade to talk about her love of New Orleans, the inspiration she pulls from Southern living, and how her company started by a happy accident.
How did you find your way to New Orleans?
I’d been living and working in Chicago for a few years and realized it wasn’t home and probably never would be. My sister was expecting her first child and lived in Memphis near my parents, so I wanted to move closer but wasn’t ready to return to Tennessee quite yet. A few of my good friends from high school had married guys from New Orleans and I’d met a lot of fun people over the years that lived there. I decided there was plenty to do in the arts, it was driving distance to Memphis and the beach, and had a good quality of life. So, I went.
Tell me about Southern Creed – who is this brand is for?
Southern Creed is a brand inspired by the beauty and humor of Southern life. All designs are original and employ a variety of techniques – drawing, painting, computer graphics, and anything that helps with the expression of my ideas. It’s for people with a sense of humor and an eye for design, including, but not limited to, Southerners in general.
How did you start Southern Creed?
Kind of by accident. My background is in graphic design, but I like to incorporate a lot of fine art techniques in my work. One day I made a little drawing of snoballs and then I added watercolor touches. I thought if four of them were cute, then dozens of them would be adorable. So I drew more and scanned the image and repeated it to make a pattern. Fabric came to mind… then ribbon… and all the things I could make out of them.
As soon as I made that first pattern, I started thinking about all the inspiration I could gather from New Orleans and the South. That first few weeks I made more patterns than any other time since. I did bacon, and cotton, and catfish, and poboys, and okra, and just kept working and making a list for those I wanted to make in the future. That’s when I realized I could have more than a hobby; I could have a business.
What’s next for you and Southern Creed?
This is an interesting time for Southern Creed. I’ve decided to take some of the designs into production instead of just me and a sewing machine in my living room. It’ll enable me to offer more things that I’ve wanted to do that are cost prohibitive at this point (like dog beds, dinner napkins, maybe socks, and hopefully children’s clothes, or sheets…), so I sold my house in New Orleans for capital and will split time between NOLA and Memphis while I find the right factories. It’s been so fast that everything I’ve done is just to keep up, so I’m looking forward to having the time to organize and make the right decisions. I want to keep production in the South, but certainly in the U.S. for those items that I can’t get made here.
Once I figure out what’s going to be made and how, I’ll revamp the website and look for other vendors. I want to be in a few stores in several cities so that it isn’t oversaturated.
Who are some of your favorite Southern artists and why?
There’s a lesser-known painter named Carroll Cloar who I remember liking as far back as about eight years old when I saw a poster he created for a festival in Memphis. His work is very graphic (in the sense of design not context), and centers around iconic Southern scenes. His use of pointillism to depict cotton fields and leaves on trees created patterns more like Gustave Klimt than what you would expect from an artist born in Earle, Arkansas. His surreal paintings made mundane life appear more sophisticated. Walter Anderson is another, but he’s more representative of Gulf life than the pan-Southern experience. Both, for me, are appropriate.
What are some of your other favorite Southern cities?
I love the art of the road trip; I’ll go anywhere once. Most of my favorites are situated on or near water, though. Following the Mississippi River from Memphis to New Orleans and all the Delta towns in between; old Florida cities on the Gulf in the panhandle; Lake Martin in Alabama – too many to name, and several more to discover, I hope.