Dream Jobs: Lilly Pulitzer Print Designer
When it comes to dream jobs, hanging in the Pink Palace and conceptualizing the bright, cheerful prints that have cemented Lilly Pulitzer as a preppy staple would be at the very top of my list. While any good brand knows that every single position (from service representatives to truck drivers) is vital to a company’s success, it’s hard to imagine Lilly Pulitzer without immediately thinking of her iconic prints. (For more, visit the official Lilly blog here for some gorgeous pictures and stories about a day in the life of a Lilly Print Designer!)
I first met Caroline on Instagram (@carolinedoodles), when she commented on a shot of me wearing one of her (and one of my favorite) Lilly prints—Dockhopper. I have to admit—I was a little star struck. It’s not every day you get to talk to the person responsible for designing your clothes! (Caroline also has designed jewelry!)
After a few months of trading comments back and forth, she agreed to answer a few questions about her position as a Lilly Pulitzer Print Designer and how aspiring artists can get their start working for the brand.
Tierney: Hi, Caroline! Thanks so much for talking with me. First off, tell me a little about yourself.
Caroline: Well, I’m a girl who’s obsessed with art and animals and fashion (in no specific order). Since I was a kid, I’ve had an interest in art. My mom is an artist, so she used creative projects to keep me busy. I just kind of never stopped making things. I grew up drawing and painting and cutting paper, and when I graduated high school I decided to attend an art college. I decided on Ringling College of Art and Design as an illustration major, the school is in Sarasota, Florida which was also a major plus. It made me love the warm weather and resort life. My senior year, Lilly Pulitzer came recruiting at Ringling and they offered me a full time spot on their print design team and that’s where I’ve been ever since!
Tierney: What did you hope to be when you grew up?
An artist! When I was 5 I saw The Lion King and went home and asked my mom to teach me how to draw that. That movie made me want to draw and just play with color, it still does. I almost majored in animation, but my passion is really just drawing and creating.
Tierney: Were you a Lilly fan before you were hired?
Caroline: Of course! Though I have to say, my sister was a much bigger Lilly fan than I was (now we’re a little more equal though).
Tierney: She was probably over the moon when you got hired then!
Caroline: When I called her to tell her, she was with her roommate, they both just screamed into the phone.
Tierney: Can you share a little bit about the application/interview process? Any tips for aspiring applicants?
Caroline: I should clarify, I started as an intern after graduation, but was offered the full time position before my internship ended. Lilly LOVES hiring their interns! It wasn’t difficult to apply since they were recruiting at my school. I had my interview and showed my portfolio. We had a very candid conversation and went through the usual questions of an interview. Everyone who interviewed was asked to create two prints each, one animal (a Lilly animal print, think Chin Chin, not leopard print haha) and one floral that could fit in with the other prints at Lilly. I did a fox print and a citrus orange print. The design team back at the Pink Palace reviewed everyone’s work and liked mine a lot. It was on Spring Break when I got the email offering me the internship. After graduation, I started, and two months later they offered me a permanent position on the team!
Tierney: Can you walk us through a print from start to finish? How much direction do you guys get? (Like, does someone sit down and say…”HEY! I’m thinking Llamas. Llamas are going to be HUGE this spring” and then people start working on llama prints? Or is there a lot of independence when it comes to print designs?)
Caroline: It’s kind of a mix of both! We concept what our delivery for each season will be, and brainstorm motifs. We research trends, pull tears, and get inspired. Some prints are just inspired while others are suggested trends, like jungles or cats!
Tierney: What’s your favorite print?
Caroline: Chin Chin. It was designed by Jeff, and I’m pretty sure I bought everything it came in (he makes fun of me for it too, but he gave me the original drawing and I love it). I just love the colors, and how could you not love elephants?
Tierney: Is your favorite animal an elephant then?
Caroline: My favorite animal is a fox! Everyone on the team knows it, anything with a fox on it I pretty much need.
Tierney: What’s your favorite piece of Lilly?
Caroline: This always changes, but right now it’s the blossom dress in the skinny dipping print. I wore it to the Palm Beach Bash which Lilly throws after Christmas, before New Year’s in Palm Beach for the Red Cross every year. The print designers were there live painting, and I pulled that dress out. It’s so cute and fits so well, plus with some blingy jewelry it’s really pretty.
Tierney: I fan girl so hard over that party. Really, I just want to walk on top of the pool.
Caroline: It’s super fun, and walking on the pool top is surprisingly scary. It rained a little this year, so it got really slippery. But it’s REALLY fun to walk across it.
Tierney: Describe your typical day. Do you spend most of it painting foxes?
Caroline: It depends where we are in the season. In the beginning I spend most of it painting, then once we decide on the prints for the season, we all get to cleaning the prints and preparing to send them to be printed on fabric. We spend most of the day painting and creating, and sometimes we field other things that come across our desk like store design plans and things like that! As with any job, there are some non-creative aspects like preparing art to be sent, but it’s 98% creative work!
Tierney: Do you have any cool side projects? Where else can we find you online?
Caroline: I always work on my own stuff. As you know from my ‘gram I have a serious problem, I can’t stop cutting paper. I’m always dreaming up some new illustrations! They end up on my etsy, and my website. It’s a really unique medium and i love people’s reactions to it. I’ve started doing a few street fairs here in Philly too. I’m just always making things and posting things on my instagram and tumblr!
instagram; carolinedoodles or http://instagram.com/carolinedoodles