From Orlando to London, designing a dream – with helping hands along the way.
Adriana Generallo wears two creative hats (or maybe, depending on how you count, several). By day, she’s Creative Director at Big Sea, the agency that helps run St. Pete Threads. There, she does some design work of her own – including the great “Trailblazer” cycling shirt – and oversees other designers.
By night, though, Adriana designs patterns for the apparel and home décor markets. It’s a talent that got her noticed early in her career, when she was in London at the creative agency Newl&Potter.
“We were doing a bag design for Tesco, and this freelancer was pretty expensive. I asked if I could have a shot at doing some patterns, and the client couldn’t tell the difference.”
Getting from Orlando to London and now St. Pete, and navigating the landscape of the creative industries along the way, has been a series of learning experiences. While studying at the University of Central Florida and then Valencia College, Adriana worked at Buca di Beppo, an Italian restaurant in Orlando, where one of her regular guests turned out to be the big boss, chain owner Robert Earl himself.
Earl also owned Planet Hollywood, which had a location in Trafalgar Square. So when she decided to head to London, she asked Earl for a hand. That got her in the door at Newl&Potter.
“It was a great lesson in just throwing it out there, asking for help.”
The next two years, working with creative people in one of the world’s great cities exploded her horizons. “It opened my eyes to how incredibly talented people can be in the field.”
But she was also surprised to find a lot of support, debunking her fears of an utterly cutthroat business. She’s brought that ethos into her own day job, where she now says her greatest satisfaction comes from coaching the people she supervises to achieve their best.
Still, she also saves some energy for her own projects. Starting with that Tesco bag, she’s learned a lot more about the basics of textile design, and built a portfolio that she’s working to get into the hands of agents. Another crucial creative lesson came when she, to her surprise, found that there was huge demand for the thing she loved doing.
“Women’s fashion has such high turnover, because of trends, that there’s enough to go around for everyone.”
It’s a moment that many creative people have when they finally get serious – what started as a ridiculous daydream turns out to be a viable real-world pursuit.
“Nobody told me!” she says, laughing.
Her design sensibility is abstract and edgy. “I don’t come from a drafting or fine art background, so the technical skill of realistic imagery is not where I gravitate. I found myself doing much more bold graphic things. Things that don’t need to be realistic.”
She keeps it more straightforward (literally) on her “Trailblazer” shirt, which has a cycle spelling out the slogan in bubbly neon. “I tend to gravitate towards that seventies vibe,” she says of the design. “And I thought it would be pretty important, because St. Pete has an enthusiastic bike-oriented community.”
You can find a selection of Adriana’s very cool pattern designs, and a blog chronicling her progress in the textile design world, at generallo.com.