Lynn Johnston, creator of the popular syndicated comic strip For Better or For Worse, has started a whole new career: creating patterns! What began as a fun side project to create a small number of items to sell in an art gallery gift shop, has exploded in to a new and exciting area of business. But how did this all happen? Well, let us tell you!
When Lynn first retired, she looked forward to enjoying time with her grandchildren, travelling, and painting. Despite her attempts to paint “seriously,” Lynn’s post-retirement paintings (one of which you can see below), are quite cartoonish. She loves painting, but she especially enjoys working without a deadline! Lynn has painted quite a number of these small canvases to give as gifts to family and friends.
At some point she decided it would be a good idea to digitize the paintings—to keep a record of them, and to possibly use them for something else down the road. It was around this time that the discussion of printing on fabric came up.
It Started With a Dress…
In 2003, Lynn was awarded a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, along with Shania Twain, Andrea Martin, Mike Myers, and many other talented Canadians.
Lynn explains how she came up with the perfect outfit for the event:
“I wanted to find the right dress! I looked around the shops but couldn’t find anything that was “me.” I then looked at fabrics, thinking I might have something made, but I couldn’t find a pattern I liked. With time ticking away, I got the idea to “draw” a comic pattern.
I found the perfect dress in a wedding dress boutique. It had an A-line skirt and a plain white bodice.
I bought “squeezy paint” and proceeded to draw funny faces on the skirt of the wedding dress. I wanted to draw all kinds of people; different ages, different cultures. Just a mix of “Canadians”; folks I would meet on the streets of Toronto. The result was a crazy, freehand illustration.”
When Lynn pulled the dress out of storage years later, she discovered that the “squeezy paint” was starting to crumble and peel off of the dress. It was at this point that she decided to digitize the entire image. Lynn’s daughter, Katie, who now helps to run Lynn’s company, scanned the dress in sections, and digitally stitched the image back together. Once this was done, with the help of Lynn’s graphic designer and colourist, Kevin Strang, the image was altered to become a seamless, never ending pattern. The world of LJP patterns had begun!