Meet Katie Larson-- graphic designer and quilt maker extraordinaire!
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Woohoo! Y'all, Jem has had SO MUCH ENERGY this week. His Auntie Audgie declared him to be like the Tasmanian Devil today, and she was pretty much spot on. It's a good thing he's cute!
Today, I'm delighted to bring you an interview with Katie Larson. Katie is a graphic designer by day and a quilter by night. I saw her quilts "Whatever" and "Mountain Baby" at QuiltCon and loved them. Then, when I found out she's in Andy Miller's online "Masters of Fine Business Arts" class, I knew I had to talk with her! I love the aesthetic of her work, and I'm so glad y'all get to learn more about her, too!
1) Tell us a little about yourself-- your family, creative background, other interests, etc. I live in Kansas City with my husband Jesse and our 2 year old son Weston. I grew up near Des Moines, Iowa where I learned to quilt from my mom. When I was little, I loved cutting things out of paper, gluing things together and coloring – not much has changed since then! Since creativity has always been my biggest strength, I decided to major in graphic design at Iowa State University. I’ve been working as a designer for Hallmark Cards for 10 years. I spent the first 7 years in the Lettering Studio, doing hand lettering, type and design primarily for greeting cards. Most recently I have been designing home décor and gift product for the Hallmark Home & Gifts team.
2) Your technique is much more graphic and illustrative than that of many quilters. Can you tell us about your inspirations? How do other creative pursuits and disciplines inform your quilting? I love shapes and lots of color. I try to avoid repetitive block based designs, and instead try to make the whole quilt one entire “block”. Getting to do design during the day provides a lot of inspiration for my quilts too. I also like to have a variety of projects to work on, not just quilts. Spending time making things with different materials and forms keeps me more engaged creatively. I easily get bored doing the same thing over and over again, so having variety is really important!
3) What does your creative process look like? If I’m making a quilt for a specific person, I start by thinking about the things they love – a color, pattern or a favorite hobby or interest. If needed, I’ll research potential patterns or images that might spark some inspiration.
Next, I’ll sketch and doodle ideas on paper. Sometimes, this is my first step. I’ve had several quilts come out of little line drawings that I didn’t necessarily create with the intention of a quilt.
I’ll take the sketch into the computer, and use Adobe Illustrator to redraw and refine the sketch and play with colors. Usually, I use a small Wacom tablet to do this (much easier for me then a mouse or track pad). I also use Illustrator to figure out the size of the quilt and its pieces, and to determine seam allowance. (If you are familiar with this program, using Object>Path>Offset Path is a great way to add seam allowance to your quilt pieces!) I print the pieces to size, and use those to create the quilt. Most of the time, everything (except maybe the quilting) is figured out before I begin piecing.
Aside from quilting, almost every idea starts on paper! If an idea pops into my head, I have to put it down on paper. I look back at those idea sketches when the right time or situation arises for them to be made.
4) How is creative community important to your work? Working at Hallmark has provided a great creative community. I have learned so much from the people there - tricks on the computer, which pen and ink to letter with or how to make something – and overall, just being inspired by all the creative people. Being able to bounce ideas of each other and build upon an idea together has been really great. Collaboration is so important!
Five years ago I joined the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild. I had been quilting off and on for many years, but once I joined the guild, quilting became a whole new thing for me. We have a lot of speakers through the year and we always do Show & Tell every month. It’s so inspiring to see other people’s work and to hear about how they made something or a new technique they tried. It’s also really great to be in a room full of other people that all share the same passion as you!
5) What advice do you have for other creatives along their journeys? Along this journey, I’m always checking in with myself and asking “Does this make me happy, do I want to do this?” It usually helps me differentiate between what I think I should do from what I really want to do.
When you’re feeling plagued by self-doubt or indecision, knowing “You can do whatever you want to do” helps give some creative direction.
Thank you, Katie, for joining us today! Your work is amazing! I love your style and passion!
Y'all can find these pictures and more on Katie's gorgeous Instagram. If you're in love with Colorful Colorado and Mountain Baby, be sure to visit her Etsy Shop, The Crafting Shell, where she has patterns for sale.
Get creative this weekend,