Sketchbook Stories :: Dawn Gonzales

Dawn is an absolutely amazing, fun and wonderfully quirky lady that I had the pleasure of working with when I was at Old Navy. Her never-ending creativity and excitement is totally contagious! And just you watch out when she gets super excited about a project. There’s no holding her back. I’m am so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to work her and am even more grateful that we are friends!!

Dawn was raised in the American west (Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and California) and attended the University of Arizona where she studied painting, printmaking and sculpture, and graduated with a BFA in 1993. Two weeks later, with $800 in her pocket and two overstuffed suitcases, she moved to San Francisco to be an “artist.” She has been in the Bay Area ever since doing marketing in various capacities for companies such at Isda and Co., Zia Natural Skincare, The Beauty Store (now called Pure Beauty) and Gap, Inc.

Dawn has been drawing, painting and crafting since she was a little girl and she is SUPER LUCK that in her current position as Manager for Creative Services for Old Navy she gets to do all of these things!! Dawn designs Flagship Store window displays, seasonal interiors and Old Navy’s PR showroom in New York City, the latter of which is detailed in the sketchbook story that she is sharing with us today.

Here’s Dawn’s Sketchbook Story:

DG: I get inspired by a little bit of everything: Of course my adorable English bulldog, Cookie. She is the light of my life and keeps me happy from sunup to sundown.

DG: Other artists inspire me, especially Koko the gorilla. (I own three pieces of Gorilla art!) My favorite weekend jaunt is Mendocino, where everything seems to move at a slower, more relaxed pace. I think it is simply paradise on earth. My favorite local weekend place to hang is in my beautiful backyard where I can lay on the deck, gaze at the California native plants and listen to the chickens cluck next door.

DG: A few small factoids about myself: I have a twin sister living in Seattle who is an artist as well. I love hula hooping and roller-skating. I have seen Barry Manilow in concert twice and know almost all of his songs by heart. I am a crazy wedding dancer. I own a gorilla suit just for fun. I don’t have a drivers’ license by choice – and you should thank me for that.

Old Navy Public Relations Showroom process:

DG: Since the purpose of our PR showroom is to present our upcoming lines to magazine editors, the first step is to familiarize myself with the items of the season that we want to be featured in the media. This might be an elevated and trendy skinny cargo-pant, a beautifully detailed sweater or a great new yoga-pant with a technologically forward fabrication. The hero products for the season always inform what the showroom design will look like because, essentially, we want to present our product as best as possible so that editors will want to feature the items in their fashion magazines.

For Fall 2011, our public relations coordinator knew that these patterned blouses were going to be big and we had a fabulous leather jacket in the line that she wanted to speak to. So, we knew the focus would be on these items for the overall look of the showroom.

DG: But, before I start designing the space itself, I work on the invitation that will act as a teaser for all the invitees. Spending some time with this idea usually sparks bigger ideas for the showroom concept. My first idea was to marry the soft florals with the edgier leather for a “leather and lace” sort of statement. Here is my initial hand drawn sketch for the invitation done during our team kickoff meeting.

DG: The next step is to refine the drawing in Illustrator. I prefer to flesh out my ideas on the computer for speed and convenience (must be the fast paced retail environment that I’m used to!)

DG: Then, I work with our product design department, if necessary, to acquire the actual digital textile assets to drop into my design. Voila! The finished invitation!


DG: And now onto the showroom. The first thing I do is lay out everything to scale on an overheard template. Once I am happy with the final design, I create individual mechanicals for our external print/production vendors.

DG: Since there were so many lovely patterns in our fall line, I decided to keep the walls clean and white, focusing on vignettes of pattern as backdrops for the mannequins.

DG: To evoke fall, we focused on a center statement (the dimensional tree and birds). I tend to use a lot of birds and trees in my work. In these pictures you can see that I appropriated the textile patterns into the backdrops and also for the cutout bird silhouettes hanging on the tree.

DG: The engineers who created the tree did an excellent of job of translating my original tear sheets and sketches into the dimensional plywood tree that you see here. It is my favorite part of this showroom design.

DG: The patterned wall backdrops are 96“ x 96” and are created from stretch frames and canvas. On one panel, we actually used brown pleather to resemble the cool jacket I mentioned earlier.

DG: Of course, I leveraged the invitation art for our hallway announcement. Since Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy all present their clothing lines in the same building, we need to have some sort of navigation for our attendees at the launch party.

DG: After the event is over, the showroom and the product is professionally photographed for our online press kit so that the editors and stylists can refer back to what they have seen. It’s a very exciting process to be a part of design-wise, but what is even better is that I also get to visit New York to work in the showroom 4 times a year.

Here’s where you can find Dawn:

    old navy::


cookie’s fb ::

dawn’s fb ::



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