Nicky Ovitt :

I having been contemplating some “re-visits” for a while – I love the idea of following someone’s career development in real life – to see how their work is progressing, what new ideas they have, to see how they’ve grown in their business, and to see where they’re headed next.

So I am absolutely thrilled to be able to re-introduce Nicky Ovitt to you! A bit over a year ago, I featured Nicky’s sweet surface designs here, where she talked about her process of combining hand-drawn inks with digital, about her aim to keep a sense of freshness and naivety in her designs, and her desire to develop fabrics for the home-sewing market.

Look at how stunning her new work is!! Layers upon layers, gorgeous rich colours, and homey textures. It’s her new collection available through the Seattle-based Clothworks, called Homestead.


Nicky Ovitt - Homestead collection
Nicky Ovitt – Homestead collection


She originally conceived the collection for  The Printed Bolt’s international fabric design competition, Repeat(ed). She describes her concept as “paying tribute to the adventurous women who were early American homesteaders, gold rush hopefuls, diligent farmers of the Dust Bowl and survivors of the Great Depression. Ingenuity and hard work were the hallmarks of these great women and it was said that ‘virtue was their guide.’ ”

The designs feature many of the tools used in a frontier woman’s workday – handmade basketry, laundry tubs, and darning mix with snippets of kitchen wallpaper and iron trivets. She skilfully reinterprets these through a contemporary aesthetic, but still manages to maintain a retro feel through the use of colour and texture (you can read more about Nicky’s process here).


Nicky Ovitt - Homestead Collection
Nicky Ovitt – Homestead Collection


Nicky is justifiably proud of the new collection and contacted me to show it off. I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions, and find out what it means to get a big licencing agreement.


Your new work is so much more confident – what do you think has been the gamechanger for you?

Is there a specific thing that has pushed you or made you feel more comfortable with your work,  or do you think it is just a natural progression that comes with sticking to what you love because it’s your passion?

“Thank you! Honestly, I think just more time was what I needed. I had not been illustrating regularly in a style I wanted to develop for a number of years. I think focusing on subject matter that I really liked and drawing out or lettering stuff in my head that was not necessarily for a paying gig was helpful. I had to work it through and it got out of my nagging head. Recently, I’ve been very fortunate too in finding more local clients that get and appreciate what I’ve been doing.”


Nicky Ovitt - Homestead Collection
Nicky Ovitt – Homestead Collection


Having a licencing agreement with a substantial company like Clothworks is a great thing. For people who are new to surface design, how did you get the licencing arrangement, and how does the licencing arrangement work?

“I’ve kept a running list of my favorite US fabric manufacturers since beginning my surface design adventure. I was not sure I was ready but I’m finding out I might never think I’m fully ready. So, I researched each company’s submission guidelines, studied their current designers and range of styles, and put my best introduction letter together, with a few jpgs of collections I thought were my strongest. I was doing all this exactly one year ago this month and at that point I already felt like I was 6 months to a year behind what I had wanted to do. But I’m glad I waited. My website was revamped by then, I had a stronger idea of what I wanted to say and my work looked more cohesive.

“Clothworks was one of the companies I thought seemed really good since they are on the West coast and someday it might be easy to visit, they are very established in the quilt fabric arena and they are a family owned company. I wrote back and forth with owner, Candice Hoffman for a bit and then she offered a contract! Because it’s my first licensing deal I hired a lawyer to help me with the negotiation and understanding of what I was doing but my research shows there is a basic standard to most contracts with designers like me. I signed an agreement with Clothworks stating that they are granted license to my chosen designs on textiles for the described life of that collection. I get a set royalty fee for every yard sold.”


Nicky Ovitt - Homestead Collection - Tools
Nicky Ovitt – Homestead Collection – Tools


Do you have any specific goals on the horizon at the moment (long OR short-term)? If so, what are they and why are they important to you?
“Yes! I still have a long list of dream clients— some are ad agencies or private label brands I’m looking to approach but I’m going to take it slow and send out enquiries when I’m fully prepared for each. I definitely want my first contact to be impressionable. Long term, I would like to license art for stationery, wallpaper, home decor, and clothing. I may have to whittle that list down but

“I’ve decided that although I have a dream list, I don’t attach certain companies to the outcome. It might surprise me what comes along or what company takes interest.


“Also long term I have the goal of being there for my family. Especially my Mom, as this time last year she was in the midst of cancer treatment and she lives in another state. Today, she is feeling good and thankfully in remission. We have plans for a mother/daughter trip to Mexico and I’m really looking forward to that. Doing fun work fulfills me in one way, but there is nothing like quality time spent with my mom and family. They fill my heart.”


Nicky Ovitt - Homestead Collection - Trivets
Nicky Ovitt – Homestead Collection – Trivets


You can find out more about Nicky on her own website,