Arabesque Artiste

The 41st Impressions Awards winning design references a renowned piece of art via intricate embroidery detail.

By Dustin Shrader, Managing Editor

January 28, 2020

Impressions gives apparel decorators from around the world an opportunity to submit their most impressive work, compete alongside their peers and show off their talents to the industry in its annual Impressions Awards decorating competition. Entries for the 41st-annual contest showcased detailed embroidery pieces, life-like screen-printed designs and spirited digitally decorated submissions from decorators of all experience levels.

Allabout Digitizing & Design, Pfafftown, North Carolina, submitted an intricately labyrinthine entry, which stood out among the other submissions hung at the Impressions Expo, formerly known as Imprinted Sportswear Shows (ISS), event in Fort Worth, Texas, held this past Oct. 3-5.

Titled “Alphonse Mucha-JOB,” the submission features realistic, detailed embroidery, which brings one of Czech painter Alphonse Mucha’s best-known advertising posters to life. It was not only named this year’s overall Grand Champion, but also received Grand Champion of Embroidery honors and first place in the Multimedia category. The judging panel, which included embroidery, digital-decorating and screen-printing experts, collectively thought the design was a creatively unique representation of the industry’s finest work.

Although Alphonse Mucha-JOB snagged the Grand Champion award, there were many other notable entries from all categories that impressed the judges. Impressions was thrilled with all of the contemporary and original artwork featuring such exuberant embellishment techniques.

All of the Impressions Awards winners are featured in this issue and will continue to be showcased throughout 2020. They will be displayed at each Impressions Expo event held across the country, as well as online in the Impressions Awards and Design Galleries. Additionally, each contest entry will be featured online so that decorators whose designs did not make the winners’ list will get much-deserved recognition for hard work and excellent design execution.

We already are eagerly awaiting this year’s competition. The official entry form will be available at impressionsmag.com this spring. If you are interested in entering early, please contact Managing Editor Dustin Shrader at dustin.shrader@emeraldexpo.com for more information.

Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to all participants and judges. We’re honored to showcase the talent and creativity this innovative industry has to offer.

Click here to download a PDF of all the Impressions Awards winners.

Grand Champion

Grand Champion of Embroidery
First Place: Multimedia

Having focused on the vintage comic book genre for many years, Allabout Digitizing & Design’s Marcus Davis craved a challenge when it came to crafting his winning design, “Alphonse Mucha-JOB.” Enlightened by the elegance of the art-nouveau period, Davis thought one of Mucha’s most celebrated posters would be the ideal choice to elevate his talents.

“I wanted to try something completely different, so I took inspiration from the period of one of my favorite art movements,” Davis says. “I was asked to create something that wasn’t related to comic books and this felt like the perfect opportunity to give it a try. Alphonse Mucha’s artwork relied on heavy black lines on a lot of his posters. In my mind, I saw this line work as a serious challenge to digitize.”

Indeed, the exaggerated details in the woman’s abundance of hair constituted a hurdle. But Davis says the most prominent challenge was organizing the order in which the piece was to be sewn.

“I usually digitize and draw blocks in the order I expect to sew the image,” he says. “After spending several hours digitizing, I realized I was getting stumped trying to determine where to transition. I decided to draw all the blocks of the image first, then come back and reorder things as needed.”

Truly a hand-crafted piece due to the painting, Alphonse Mucha-JOB is not easily recognized as being embroidered until closer inspection. The design’s mixed media heightens its uniqueness.

“I’m extremely proud of the digitizing and embroidery portion despite how difficult it was to execute,” Davis says. “Being able to combine layers of color through painting is what I think makes it stand out from typical embroidery projects.”

The results impressed contest judge Deborah Jones, who says facial expression and skin tone can be the hardest things to capture in embroidery. “This piece does that and more,” she says. “Exquisite detail and subtle shadings come together to make this a true master work.”

Fellow judge Liz Beavers agrees, noting this design was distinguished among many other fantastic entries.

“This design stood out utilizing such remarkable creativity with both digitizing and placement,” she says. “Taking such a remarkable image and transforming [it] into a beautiful, digitized embroidery design utilizing specialty effects and precision of placement made this design a true work of art.”