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Behind the pattern: The Trippy Fish Collection

If you are a longtime YKRA fan, you will have already met Viola Balázs, pattern designer. We sat down to chat with Viola to find out how she went about to create the Trippy Fish pattern! 


Hi Viola! How should we envision your workflow?

Usually, I explore the topic, discuss the concept with the client and gather inspiration and colors. We also consider what product we will apply these patterns to, and based on that, I start sketching.



How does an idea become a finished pattern?

Lately, I've been designing more in conjunction with the product itself, and I involve it in the design phase, considering the specific manufacturing method. For instance, with the Trippy Fish collection, I started composing the pattern based on the size of the screen used for the silkscreen print,  from the get-go, to achieve a very organic repetition, as it was a larger-scale rapport.

It turned out great. In your opinion, what makes a good pattern? What makes it work?

When it’s a continuous pattern, or if the connections within the design are very organic and guide the eye. The forms should align with each other and create a system where they repeat harmoniously, and the pattern should coexist well with the product it appears on. The key is finding that harmony that resonates with the viewer, evoking a sense of love or connection, something they can truly embrace.


Where did you draw inspiration from for the Trippy Fish pattern?

Well, one of our main sources of inspiration was the psychedelic world of the 70s. We also wanted to depict Koi fish in the pattern, which is a popular Japanese motif, so our task was to blend these two worlds together. To accomplish this, we thoroughly examined numerous posters as well as patterns found on vintage sunbeds and curtains.



Can you tell us a bit about these floral patterns and the Koi fish patterns, and how you put them together?

Well, what I found interesting about the floral patterns is that back in the 70s, they were mostly printed using screen printing, which made it fascinating to study how they utilized the ratio of covered and uncovered areas to achieve maximum effect with minimal colors, creating a rainbow-like result. It was intriguing to see how the printed and blank areas blended together in different proportions. We applied this approach as well, consciously designing our patterns to make use of it. At YKRA we work with a limited number of colors, and the blank area plays a significant role as a color in our patterns.



How many colours are in the pattern? 

There are four colors plus white, right? Green, orange, light blue, dark blue. Yes, and blank parts are left as an open space. So, it's not the background color, but rather something we highlighted. The fish appear in the blank areas, emphasizing their presence. Personally, I saw it as a challenge because goldfish are a very popular theme. We encounter them in many places and it has a bit of a Japanese theme, and it was a challenge for me to draw and depict them in a new, different situation. So, they merged with the flowers, and the whole thing ended up in an imagined underwater world. 

Let's delve a bit deeper into the pattern. What were the characteristic colors and shapes of that era, and what did you incorporate from them into the pattern?

What stands out to me are the flowing forms that blend and merge together organically, giving the impression of gentle movement and being carried by currents. This quality can be observed in every shape, making the overall design much more organic, including the flowers, compared to the more geometric thinking of the 60s. Additionally, I focused on the ratio of contours and the balance between large and small surfaces. For instance, numerous intricate details come together to form a larger, encompassing shape, which can be interpreted as a pattern of that shape or seen as a collective representation of smaller flower motifs.



You went with two color schemes, one is a blue dominates cooler and the other is a pink dominated warmer color palette. Which one would you choose from the two, if you could only choose one? 

I really love pink, so I would choose pink.

What have you been working on lately, and what are your plans for the summer?

That's a great question. I'm working on a very exciting book, entirely dedicated to illustrations. I was asked to create graphics related to a specific year, but I can’t really say more about it just yet. It's scheduled to be released at the beginning of summer. We are also preparing a series of scarves with VYF, which is connected to an exhibition at the Szépművészeti Museum, and I'm already working on it. I also want to take some time to freely create and explore for myself.

What does that mean? What do you enjoy doing?

I finnaly started learning animation to bring these patterns to life because they always give me the feeling of capturing a fleeting moment. However, there is a certain continuity to them, and I want to take it further to make them truly come alive.

Thank you Viola!

Thank you! 

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