Inspiration: Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski

January 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Lately I’ve been swooning over Maps by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski. It’s got more than 40 beautifully detailed hand drawn country maps. Check out the gorgeousness:






Inspiration: Jee Young Lee

December 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

One artist that’s been really inspiring me lately is Jee Young Lee from Korea. She creates dream-world like installations inside her tiny studio:





Studio Time: Color Obsession

November 13, 2013 § Leave a comment




Choosing colors is one of my favorite aspects of creating art, and over time I’ve amassed a bounty of resources to enable this obsession. My favorite are my color collage sketchbooks (seen above). Sometimes I leave pages unfinished for weeks or months before finding the right color combination to complete the collages. Having these is like having a secret stash of mood boards at the ready! I also love to go through my old photos on flickr for good color palettes, as well as browse Pinterest for inspiration. I always take in a lot of color inspiration for each project, but in the end, I can usually find one or two images that really hit the mark, color wise. From there I work out a basic palette and adjust as I go. Below are a few of my favorite color palettes, side by side with patterns I made with them:




Of course, there’s lots of other great resources on the web, which I use regularly. ColourLovers, Kuler, and Color Collective are a few of my favorites. I also love flipping trough the inspiration books in the paint section of my local hardware store, leafing through my Pantone book, and checking out art books from the library for further inspiration. There’s no end to the color love here!


INSPIRATION: tribal trends, “nomadism,” and vagabonding

November 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

As a designer, I’m naturally interested in following the trends that come and go in fashion, home decor and other arenas of product design and popular culture. This subject comes up often on designers’ blogs and pinterest boards – what are the colors for next spring? What holiday motif will all the big retailers be shopping for? As I immerse myself more and more into the world of fashion, trends, and Pantone colors of the year I get more and more interested in the trends behind the trends – the actual reasons why so many of us seem to gravitate toward the same colors, patterns, and images at a certain time. It might be possible that sometimes a trend is simply a popular thing and people like it because it’s popular, but I do believe that sometimes trends in design arise from forces in society, politics, the economy and world events.

One trend that’s close to my heart right now both visually and socially is the embrace of global patterns and designs. This includes so-called ‘tribal’ patterns, ikat, paisley, Japanese washi tape, and Russian needlepoint, and Mexican day of the dead and papel picado. I think it’s so interesting how all of these trends all seem to be popular all at once, and seem to be taking over all levels of retail and product categories:

sources: eclectic a, urban outfitters, and red uk (clockwise)

sources: eclectic a, urban outfitters, and red uk (clockwise)

Trend Tablet refers to this trend to draw inspiration from all places and movements in history as “Nomadism.” I’m no trend forcaster, but I consider myself a bit of a nomad and I wanted to write a bit about my insights into this trend. As it turns out, I’m also being inspired by all places and moments in history at once! (yikes. hard to know what to make first!)

I really believe that an increased interest in global/tribal designs stems from increasing global travel, both by Americans to other places and by global citizens to America. Here in America, it gets easier and easier to find global cuisines, music, dance, sports, and festivals all the time. This gives consumers a chance to have their interest be piqued by new, exciting colors and patters. Conversely, it is easier to travel abroad than it’s ever been, and there’s more and more reasons to travel abroad. As I myself experienced, many people struggling in a weak economy find they can get more lucrative jobs abroad.

In addition, I think this trend reflects the fact that many young people (Millennials, I suppose) are placing a higher value on experiences over physical possessions. There’s a lot of griping about how Millennials (of which I am one) are taking too long to buy houses and cars and establish settled lives. I feel very strongly that this has to do with many of us wanting to invest in experiences first, travel the world, and gain perspectives on other ways of life. Okay, and escape for a bit. And see a whole lot of beautiful things.

some beautiful things I've seen

some beautiful things I’ve seen

In short, I think the desire to travel around the world is very similar to the desire to surround yourself with designs from around the world – it’s a desire to continually gain perspective, seek new experiences, and appreciate diversity.

Do you have any global or tribal trends you’re in love with? Does that have anything to do with your travel or cultural experiences? I’d love to hear about it!



Inspiration Exploration: Florals in your face!

May 13, 2013 § Leave a comment


Kirra Jameson

It finally seems like spring is here to stay! Judging by the looks of my portfolio, I may have a slight obsession with spring and summer. There’s outdoor travel themed images, nature themed images, watermelons, veggie gardens…and the floral! I have lots of bright, enthusiastic florals. I’ve been seeing large scale fun florals on a lot of art and products recently, and I thought it was a perfect theme for me. I especially love the intersection of pop art and nature. Naturally I have a lot of photos of great actual flowers from my travels (I never get tired of taking photos of flowers and nature) so that made it even better!






Inspiration Exploration: Tropical Rainforest

April 6, 2013 § Leave a comment


One of the most visually inspiring experiences I’ve had is visiting the Amazon rainforest. There’s so many new shapes, colors and textures to be inspired by and I definitely brought home a lot of ideas for illustrations and patterns in my sketchbook. Serendipitously, I started noticing a lot of beautiful new jungle-inspired products out for spring and summer this year. The bright color, elegant movement and lush atmosphere that these images have really makes products stand out.


courtesy of joss and main, mystic membrane, and plankton art co., respectively

Naturally, I couldn’t resist creating my own collection of jungle-inspired patterns! Here’s a taste of the Jungle Retreat collection which can be viewed at my newly overhauled website. You can also see more of my jungle inspiration at my pinterest page. Happy weekend everyone!



Inspiration: Pattern Envy in the Andes

March 7, 2013 § Leave a comment






Let the Sun Shine In: My Quest for a Stronger Creative Vision

January 30, 2013 § 2 Comments


© Leah Hoelscher 2013


OK, so its been almost two months since my time as a free ‘n easy traveler in South America came to an end. Basking in the sun in the beaches of Chile and Peru, surfing, mountain biking down the Andes in Bolivia, these are all but sweet sweet memories now.

It’s so easy for me to feel inspired on the road, with the constant supply of new things to ooh and awe at. Maybe just as importantly, it’s easier to feel confident when I’m out there taking on the world when simple things like border crossings and making coherent small talk in Spanish feel like big accomplishments.

Traveling makes me feel connected to a bigger world, a bigger adventure, a bigger sense of purpose. I think this is why my sketchbooks really boom on all my trips – it just seems more important to make time to draw. Also, I just feel so great when I’m on a trip, naturally. When I travel, I get a good amount of sleep. When I travel, I read fiction books. When I travel, I breath fresh air and get a tan.

So this is my challenge: I’m not traveling now. I’m working, building my licensing business from the ground up. In some ways, its the most exciting and risky thing I’ve ever done. But, to do this I need to spend a lot of time in my studio. Indoors. In winter. In Kansas. I do not have a tan.

At least I can still hold on to the strong vision I felt while on the trip – for my life and for my work and business. For me, feeling the bigger vision is like feeling the sun shine on my skin. Some days its a struggle, but this time I’m deliberately keeping the images and memories of the trip with me to save that vision from fading (like my tan). Let the Sun Shine In!

Also, I’d love to hear about YOUR creative vision – where you got it, how you keep it. Have you had any experiences that really defined a vision for your work?

Inspiration Roundup: Korean Stationery

July 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

Lately, I’ve been pining for Seoul. One of favorite guilty pleasures in Seoul was to while away the hours (and won!) in stores like MMMG, Kosney, Hot Tracks, and Art Box, coveting cute things. Here’s a few favorites I found on my latest online trip to my old stationery store haunts:

please note: Images in this post are courtesy of the noted stores.

from ARTBOX:


from MMMG:


from 꿈비:

from INDIGO:



Inspiration: Interactive Window Display at ZNP Creative, Seoul

July 30, 2012 § Leave a comment


Later on today, I’m going to post about all the ways that I get inspired by the stationery culture of South Korea. For now, I just want to share this video. I love the colors, sounds and graceful movements of it combined with the subtle snarkyness of the bags themselves. I’m lucky enough to own one of these treasures!


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