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What’s in Your Toolbox: Lourdes Sanchez

by Ginny


Lourdes Sanchez is a Cuban-born artist and textile designer currently residing in Brooklyn, where she makes her painterly watercolor patterns that are equal parts geometric and organic. Her client list is a roster of awesomeness: Anthropologie, Kate Spade, Crate & Barrel and Prabal Gurung, to name a few. She was even snatched up by West Elm, who translated her art into framed pieces and pillow designs featuring painted aquatic motifs. I am so smitten with her approach to pattern design (and I am very pattern shy). Currently, I am coveting her paint-swatch-dotted canvas shown above. Read on for a peek into the life of this talented lady! — Ginny

1. Design*Sponge: What is in your toolbox?

Lourdes Sanchez: Incredible white mask liquid frisket, Arches watercolor paper, lots of wall space for mood boards, T pins, masking tape, hardware store sponge brushes, .07 mechanical pencils with 2B leads, kneaded erasers, my library, Pinterest.


2. Design*Sponge: Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel ____________.”

3. Design*Sponge: What is on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Lourdes Sanchez: I am looking at the books Signs and Symbols: African Images in African American Quilts by Maude Southwell Wahlman; The Sun in Art, first published in 1962 and edited by Walter Herdeg; and Ellsworth Kelly’s Tablet. I also have a stack of vintage Vanidades magazines from the early ’60s through the ’70s that I bought in Mexico and beautifully faded old cotton Indian block-printed bedspreads and skirts from flea markets that have been piling up.


4. Design*Sponge: How do you keep yourself organized? Do you have an agenda book, and do you make to-do lists?

Lourdes Sanchez: After I finish getting ready for a show or a new collection, I do a big tidy session that can take days or weeks. The books get put away, the piles of paper and references and miscellaneous rubble are sorted through and tossed out or filed away, and so on. It clears my mind for new things and gets things organized for when I start designing and painting again. I do a to-do list with a big Sharpie and put it on the refrigerator door. Agenda books tend to get lost under piles of ephemera when the studio gets busy.


5. Design*Sponge: If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?

Lourdes Sanchez: I would love to be able to disappear and then pop up anywhere else in the world whenever I wanted.


6. Design*Sponge: What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist/designer?

Lourdes Sanchez: To be honest, most of the advice I have received was mostly useful by doing the exact opposite of that advice. Even the most sincerely offered advice is only someone reporting back from their own life story. So I don’t really like to give advice. I would just say that I believe in studying and looking at everything, combined with going deep inside yourself and bringing out what is truly and uniquely in you, combined with a steady and regular practice of work so that you have the skills to realize your vision.

7. Design*Sponge: How do you combat creative blocks?

Lourdes Sanchez: I don’t have creative blocks. I tend to have too many ideas at once, and that can be overwhelming, paralyzing and anxiety-producing because I don’t know which ones to do first in the time I have available. I make a rough list of ideas in the order I can do them, and that helps a lot.


8. Design*Sponge: Where do you like to shop for inspiration?

Lourdes Sanchez: I don’t go out looking for inspiration as much as it happens naturally when I am doing things I love to/need to do anyway. I love going to the Rockefeller wing of the Metropolitan Museum, second-hand bookstores in any city or town I find myself in, nature books in the basement at Strand, vintage clothing stores, Brooklyn Flea, children’s drawings, high-end florist shops, found objects, the Balenciaga store in Chelsea, trees and vegetation anywhere, long walks around Gowanus with my little camera, the old markets in Yucatan, Mexico. “Inspiration” is a nonstop stream, really, that can be anywhere at any time.


9. Design*Sponge: If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any designer/artist/craftsperson, whose would it be and why?

Lourdes Sanchez: I would love to have seen that of Morris Louis, as it’s still such a fabulous mystery how he did it.

10. Design*Sponge: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it include?

Lourdes Sanchez: Some songs in heavy rotation at the moment are Erykah Badu, “Window Seat”; Blood Orange, “Sutphin Boulevard”; Air, “Ce Matin La”; Joy Division, “Atmosphere”; New Order, “Thieves Like Us”; Ry Cooder, Paris, Texas soundtrack, “She’s Leaving the Bank” and “Cancion Mixteca”; Silvio Rodriguez, “La Gota de Rocio”; Carter Burwell, True Grit soundtrack, “The Wicked Flee.” In between, I am also listening to Jeanette Winterson reading her book Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? as an audiobook.

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