Designer Interview: Amy Arguedas Toneys

This is the second in our October series of interviews with the six designers featured in the exhibition By Design, in the Baer Gallery of the Bush Art Center through October 30.

Would you describe a typical workday? 

I am currently a fabric engineer for Fabric Images, a manufacturer of printed architectural fabric structures in the Chicagoland area. Fabric Images works largely in the exhibit industry and manufactures materials for trade shows, concert venues, museums and hotels. A typical work day for me starts at 4:20 a.m.  I wake up before dawn to get my exercise in for the day (exercise is important to me and it’s unpredictable when I’ll leave the office), get ready for work at the gym and commute fifty miles by car to arrive to the office by 8 a.m.  My day consists of working cross-functionally with sales, project managers, engineers, metal fabricators and seamstresses to engineer and deliver architectural fabric patterns. The fabric patterns I design are built in Rhino and outputted as Illustrator files to a large CNC machine that will then cut the patterns into fabric.  

What were your “next steps” after graduating from SNC? 

I started working as a graphic designer for Jo To Go Coffee immediately after graduating from St. Norbert. My responsibilities as a designer varied greatly–I did everything from producing point of sale materials to billboard campaigns, website design and the interior design and build out of a prototype cafe. I enjoyed my time and experience at Jo To Go but had always aspired to study architecture and moved to the east coast to pursue a Masters Degree in Architecture from The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). During my time at RISD I was exposed to textile design and immediately fell in love with both the printed and manufacturing sides of it. Textile design was something I had admired but never seriously considered until after graduating in 2009 when the construction and building markets were in a severe depression. It was difficult to find work in architecture so I pursued a career path in textiles and haven’t looked back since. I combined my graphic design experience and knowledge of textiles to land a job as a textile designer for a womenswear clothing retailer in Minneapolis. I worked there as a textile designer before relocating to Illinois with my husband in 2013. I wasn’t able to find work as a textile designer when I moved, but was able to find a position within the architectural field which led to my current position at Fabric Images.

Describe the journey to the work you currently do.  How has your design work evolved over the course of your career?

I’ve always wanted to get back into printed textiles since leaving my post as a textile designer in Minneapolis. The work I currently do, outside my life as a fabric engineer, is to establish myself as a print designer in the interiors and home goods market. The work on exhibit in the gallery is a submission I’ve sent to Printsource in New York City. Printsource is a global market for surface and textile design in the USA and holds several shows throughout the year. Representatives from major retailers, manufacturers and catalogs attend Printsouce and my goal is to be accepted into the show, which will allow me to showcase my work to a much larger audience.

What advice do you have for current SNC Art students?  What opportunities should they take advantage of at SNC? What should they best do to prepare for life after college?

The best advice I can give art students is to expose yourself to as many areas of design as possible for insight and inspiration.  Always maintain a sketchbook and keep a close network of people who can give you constructive feedback on your work. Lastly, always stay positive. You may not have your dream job after graduation but you do have the choice to learn from your experiences and to make the most of what you have in order to achieve your goals.  

Who and what are you artistic inspirations?  

I have many inspirations. I am a big fan of color, shape and composition. In the textile world, I am a huge fan of Marimekko and Sonja Delunay.  In the worlds of fashion design and the built environment, I admire the materiality and concepts behind the works of Comme des Garcons, Kenzo, Issey Miyake, Herzog and de Meuron, and Hussein Chalayan.

Amy Arguedas Toneys is a textile designer and fabric engineer living in Illinois. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design from St. Norbert College in 2004 and a Master of Architecture from The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2009. Currently, her work explores the juxtaposition of two extremes with no middle ground and draws inspiration from the idea of what a collection of prints might look like if Coco Chanel and Janis Joplin were to collaborate together.  

Gallery Installation
Gallery Installation

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