With bold hues of tomato red, rose, marigold, and leaf green, the Sugar Skull Rug is an eye-catching decor element. Featuring a smiling calavera (Spanish for “skull”) adorned with roses and stars in a hand-drawn feel, this tattoo-style design is unlike any other rug. While it’s the perfect complement to your Halloween decor, the Sugar Skull Rug is a statement-maker suitable for year-round use.
All of our rugs have a backstory—and they’re as colorful and intricate as the designs, themselves. In this series, we’re taking you behind the design, to our textile designers and their design process, to give you the full scoop on how some of our favorite and most creative rug designs were made. For this feature, the Sugar Skull Rug, our textile designer Zane Kearney gives us all the details.
Rug Name: Sugar Skull Rug
Textile Designer: Zane Kearney
The Sugar Skull Rug design “blends Dia de los Muertos decor holiday seasonal decor with the American traditional tattoo styling,” Kearney said. “Roses are a very American traditional motif. It’s just something that continues to stay.”
To create the Sugar Skull Rug, Kearney began by first hand-sketching the design, then inking each element, and finally using a layering technique to get it exactly how he wanted before digitizing it and adding color.
“First, I made the outline of the skull as the base. Using the light board, I put another paper on top to start sketching out the motifs in the skull. I used American traditional symbols as a visual reference.
“Once I was happy with the motifs, I scanned the design to create a ‘cleaned up’ version from the original sketch. Using the light board again, I mirrored the design on the other side.”
To make the skull “pop,” Kearney added a design focal point to the center of the skull.“I sketched out flowers and other American traditional elements to start filling up the space.”
Once the skull design was finished, Kearney drew the lines in ink and cut it out so he could begin work on the background.
“I sketched out more classic rose motifs to continue the American traditional aesthetic. This acts as a border for the rug, and frames the design without hard lines.”
Kearney also added a dot and star pattern, both inside the skull and at the edges of the rug, to fill in some of the empty space and keep it all looking uniform.
“You don’t want to introduce any extra elements…because then it’ll feel disconnected and disjointed. You want to make sure that if you’ve used something once…you’ve used it twice, sometimes three times.”
Once the entire design is complete, Kearney digitized it to add color while still making sure the hand-drawn aspect stays intact.“The imperfect, hand-drawn element is what makes this design unique and beautiful.”
How to Style This Rug
Kearney said the Sugar Skull Rug is one of his personal favorites. “It makes a statement in any place that it sits. It’s a great conversation starter, as well,” he said.
With a large, dramatic design like this, the Sugar Skull Rug works best in a room where most of the rug is showing so you can appreciate it as a whole. It also features several bright colors, so it pairs well with neutral colors that won’t distract from the rug.