When it came time to design the Back to the Future-inspired pattern for our new Universal collection of wallpapers and shower curtains, we knew we had to find the right artist. Full of intricacies that the film's devoted fan base would no doubt be on the lookout for, we needed a designer who felt comfortable working with detail. Illustrator Annie Brady had reached out to us earlier with interest in working together, and we absolutely loved her illustration style. However, when we spotted a modern toile pattern that she had designed, we knew she was the designer to tackle the big hopes we had for Hill Valley Toile. Read on for more about this talented artist and how she created this one-of-a-kind pattern.
Tell us a bit about your background. Have you always been drawn to the arts and creative pursuits?
I’ve been painting and drawing since I was a little kid. I only had to be given a pencil and a stack of blank paper and I would be kept busy for hours. Not much has changed since then! I went to art college where I studied graphic design and illustration and I’ve been working in the creative field ever since. Initially I thought I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator, but one of my first jobs out of college was working in-house for a fashion and homewares brand. There, I had the opportunity to illustrate surface patterns for products and textiles. The repeat pattern process really clicked with me and seeing my designs on products gave me such a kick, that I decided to pursue a career in surface design. I’ve recently gone on to start my own business, Bound Co. with a focus on designing textiles and sewing patterns for the craft market. I’m about to release my fifth fabric line. However, I still try to collaborate with other designers and brands when I can because I love the variety and fresh perspective that this work brings.
Do you have any special connection to the film that inspired the pattern you created for this collection?
Being a child of the 80s, I have a particular fondness for the Back to the Future movies! It was probably my earliest reference for the concept of time travel, so it definitely made a strong impression on me growing up. There was a lot of news coverage about space exploration and new developments in technology back then—for example, video games, the Walkman, and personal computers were just starting to take off so it didn’t seem all that out of the question (to my young mind) that you might be able to turn a car into a time machine. To me, the movie really captures a lot of the excitement from those days, so all these years later, I was thrilled to be asked to design a toile wallpaper in the theme of this classic movie.
What was your design process like for this pattern? Take us from ideation through execution.
It had been a while since I’d watched the movie, so the very first thing I did was indulge in a Back to the Future night. I watched it twice—the first for fun and the second time taking notes and screenshots from my favorite scenes. I then sketched up a bunch of vignettes from these scenes in pencil before choosing my favorites and painting them in black ink, in the style of a traditional toile. Then, finally, I scanned and converted them into vectors on my computer so the artwork could be scaled without losing quality. As I arranged the vignettes into a repeat pattern, I painted some extra imagery to tie the repeat together.
How did you decide which scenes, moments, and characters to depict in your design?
I wanted this wallpaper to illustrate the story as much as possible so I chose to illustrate key scenes from the movie and the lead characters. Certain imagery is central to the movie, like when the lightning strikes the clock tower, the DeLorean time machine, the town of Hill Valley, and the characters of Doc, Marty, and Einstein, so making sure these were included was essential. The other elements I painted were little things that stuck with me, like the overflowing dog food bowl from one of the opening scenes of the movie, the old-fashioned TV set, Marty’s skateboard, and the newspaper article about the clock tower.
These films have diehard fans and followings. How were you able to retain the characteristics of the film that the fans know and love but put your own unique spin on it?
I think using the medium of a toile style of pattern was perfect for retaining the characteristics of the film as it allowed me to clearly illustrate the scenes but in a style that is associated more with nostalgia and times past. This makes for a great meeting point because there’s so much nostalgia associated with Back to the Future—both within the movie itself and for those of us who remember it from our childhoods. The style of the line work in my drawings was influenced a lot by mid-century book illustration, which I love. Since part of the movie is set in the 1950s, it seemed like a fitting aesthetic.
How does wallpaper—both the pattern and the color—affect the way we experience a space?
Wallpaper has the ability to transport you to a different world! Humans are very visual, so the impact of pattern and color on the psyche is huge. For example, when I think of toile wallpapers and textiles, my mind goes to French chateaus or old country house retreats. Wallpaper allows you to recreate this feeling by making a retreat in your own home—wherever that may be.
What's your favorite way to enjoy a movie night at home?
Lights dimmed, lots of snacks, glass of wine, cosy blanket, cat on my lap—and I’m all set for the night!