Studio Visit: Carlton Bruett

Studio Visit: Carlton Bruett

Studio Visit is a Q&A with a local artist. Here, a chat with Carlton Bruett of Urbana. He is owner of Carlton Bruett Design, a graphic design firm, and Carlton Bruett Couture, a new clothing line. His studio is in downtown Champaign.

Q: I knew you were a graphic designer but you also design clothes for people with disabilities, as well as others. How did you get started doing that?

A: I wanted to give clothing options to people who use wheelchairs or power chairs, as does my uncle, who struggles with his clothing choices. He's been using a wheelchair for more than 30 years.

I also wanted to raise awareness about the limited clothing options for people with disabilities, so that better designs would be made for them.

Q: Is designing clothes for people with disabilities different?

A: Yes, because their body proportions are different, particularly in younger people. Younger folks tend to have more developed upper bodies. They might be able to find a jacket or top that fits but it won't necessarily fit their lower body.

Q: Do you fit your patterns to live models?

A: Yep. We start with the individual, basically, and build the pieces from their unique body type. For example, I designed this piece for Amanda McGrory to fit her unique shape but the piece can be altered to fit others.

Q: Do you design for people without disabilities?

A: Yes, for me a unique body type is a unique body type, whether you use a chair or not.

Q: Have you sold your clothes yet?

A: I've sold a couple. We're just getting started, and we're looking for investors.

Q: How do you plan to market Carlton Bruett Couture?

A: With an online store and personal visits with clients.

Q: Who sews your clothes? Do you know how to sew?

A: Nancy's Creations in Paxton is our seamstress. I sew a little bit, enough to get by. I'm the designer but I'm learning.

Q: Where are you from?

A: Originally, Fort Worth, Texas, but I was raised in Omaha, Neb.

Q: Do you know Warren Buffett?

A: No, but I actually got an art scholarship when I was in high school from his first wife, before she passed away.

Q: Where did you go to school?

A: University of Nebraska. I got an art and design degree. I came here in 1984 to get a master's in graphic design at the U of I.

Q: And you stayed?

A: Yep. I love this city. It's a great place to raise a family — two boys and a lovely wife, Sheena. She helps me pick out the fabrics and approves my designs.

Q: Where do you buy your fabric? It's beautiful.

A: The Promenade in New Orleans. It has material imported from France, Italy, Spain, England, etc, and fabrics from top designers like Carolina Herrera, Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein and others.

Q: Are you still the graphic designer for Ebertfest?

A: Yes. I help out with the public marketing. We do the posters and advertisements in The News-Gazette.

Q: Tell me about your fashion show on Tuesday.

A: We're doing A Fashionable Fundraiser to benefit Disability Resources and Educational Services at the U of I. We're highlighting ability at the university — all the wonderful things they do in relation to access and accommodation. There will be 30 models — a very diverse group of women.

Q: Do you design clothes for men too?

A: Yes, for our first show we did three years ago. Women's clothes are more fun.

Editor's note: A Fashionable Fundraiser will start with a reception at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., U. Admission to it and the runway show is $10 for students and $12 for adults. For more about Bruett go to

Topics (1):People

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