As part of my 40 for 40 List, I committed to practicing illustration and graphic pattern design. In particular, I want to explore ideas and techniques ahead of a creative retreat with Lotta Jansdotter this July. The retreat will explore block and stencil printing for fabric and paper. I’m super excited and want to get the most out of it, so I’m starting early to get a better idea of my style.
I haven’t ever spent significant time sketching, collaging, or painting and so I don’t know what to expect. I don’t have any grandiose visions of becoming good any time soon and I don’t even have goals for tangible outcomes. My only goal is to practice and explore. I’m also hoping this exercise helps to stave off stress and introduces a lightweight creative outlet for the brief and quiet times in everyday life.
Below are some of the designers, artists, and illustrators whose work I admire. I’ll be drawing inspiration from them, as well as specific techniques such as paper cut and mixed media collage, as I seek to find my own unique style.
Lotta Jansdotter is a Scandinavian designer whose designs can be found on textiles, stationery, dishes and more. She’s worked with some of my favorite brands including Sweet Paul, ABC Carpet, and Martha Stewart. I like the simplicity of her patterns and how, with basic shapes, she can evoke movement and emotion.
Alisa Burke is a painter and mixed media artist who uses color and patterns to create whimsical and energizing works. Her designs appear on everything from dishes to journals to jewelry and more. She is generous in sharing her techniques through published books and online classes.
Lisa Congdon is an artist, author, and illustrator. She creates bold, colorful works that cover a range of subjects from abstract cityscapes to her love of swimming to—more recently—her political and social views. I love her story as being a relatively later-in-life new artist and how she’s been able to accomplish so much by learning to believe in herself, persisting, and challenging herself to always be growing.
Melanie Biehle is a Seattle-based artist who finds inspiration from travel, street art, and mid-century modern textiles. I love her use of layering, texture, and color to create interesting and subtle visual landscapes.
Paper Cut Collage
A couple years ago at a Sweet Paul Makerie retreat, I took a paper cut collage workshop with Elsa Mora. Her fine art work is beautiful and in the short time we had for the workshop, she introduced us to the building blocks of using cut paper to create texture, pattern, and motion. I find it interesting in that you can choose imprecision as part of your toolkit by letting the paper help guide your direction.
One of the first creative techniques I ever did was mixed media. Starting in middle school I would cut out and arrange images from fashion magazines, creating entirely new worlds and landscapes. I still have some of those collages to this day. What I like about it is you aren’t starting from nothing. You’re taking inspiration from the work of other’s, deconstructing and reconstructing it into something new.