First of all, welcome to Portland and to the WeMake family! You recently moved here from Atlanta. What do you like about Portland and the west coast so far?
Thank you! Gosh, I love Portland so far. I moved here last summer from Atlanta, though I grew up in Boulder, CO, which is a lot like Portland in many ways, so moving to Portland felt a bit like returning home! I loved Atlanta, but it was definitely a different type of place to live. There are so many things to love about Portland and the west coast… the trees, the cozy weather, the easy access to nature, being able to walk and bike everywhere, gluten-free and vegetarian options practically everywhere… I’m definitely at home here!
Tell us a little bit about your background as an artist and what you’re doing professionally. Is it true you’ve never had a “real job”?
You are correct, I’ve never had a “real job”. I had a number of piddly part-time jobs in my early 20s—waitress, Gymboree teacher, art installation assistant at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, nanny—but never a real career type job.
I started my business when I was 23, after a successful weekend-long juried art festival, where I was surrounded by artists who traveled the country selling their wares, and I realized that that was a possibility for me, too. It was an eye-opening, life-changing weekend for me. Before that I’d never considered that I could actually be a working artist for a living.
At that time I was solely painting (I studied painting in college, not commercial art, illustration, textile design, or pattern design) and barely knew how to use a computer for anything more than checking email and resizing photos in Photoshop. I discovered design blogs in 2006, and I saw people who were called ‘surface designers’, and I remember thinking “Why didn’t anyone tell me this was a career option??” I immediately began teaching myself how to use Adobe Illustrator and to create repeat patterns, and the day I finally figured it out was another turning point—that was the day I became obsessed with commercial art and figuring out how to get my work all over products!
My entire career so far has been about following my intuition, listening to my gut, and jumping in, even when it felt reaaaaally scary.