Inspiration: Doorway Confidential

July 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

palette_insadong_leahhoelscher

Above: Insadong, Seoul, 2010.

Lately I’ve had doors on my mind. Doors, gates, windows…portals. I guess what I find fascinating about them is their ability to frame a picture and add an element of mystery or confidentiality. I have always been fascinated by cities and all the little nooks and crannies and openings that make them awesome to explore.  Like the photo above of the chefs having a smoke – the super narrow passage really gives the image an intimate mood. Walking on the (extremely chaotic) street at the end of the passage felt l got a glimpse into another state of mind

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Above: Kyoto, Japan, 2011.

Some doorways just make me too curious – like this place in Kyoto. What’s going on with that shopping basket, and the electronics in the bike basket? I’m also a big fan of anything cheerful with a darker side to them – and this place definitely had that vibe.

So why am I so into doors at the moment? Well, naturally I’m starting all kinds of new projects now that it’s summer, and some door and window illustrations are in the works! It’s been a while since I’ve really had a chance to make full-on illustrations (vs. surface design). I can’t wait to share the process of making them, and the final images!

P.S. I’ve been reading that bloggers should always end their posts with a “call to action,” usually a question. SO: Have any of you ever trespassed (or felt a strong urge to trespass)? What was that place like and why was is so appealing?

 

 

INSPIRATION: Desert Landscapes

April 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Hello hello! I’ve been super busy getting ready for Surtex, and it’s just like me to try to squeeze one last collection in before the big day! This one is a desert collection – lots of beautiful cacti, interesting geos, floral shapes, and a maybe even a vicuña or two! Of course, I was inspired by my travels – this time in northern Argentina and Chile, a region where I totally fell in love the with the rusty desert hues and interesting plant forms.

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:

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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:

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Studio Time: Color Obsession

November 13, 2013 § 1 Comment

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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:

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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

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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!

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Inspiration Exploration: Tropical Rainforest

April 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

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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.

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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!

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Inspiration: Pattern Envy in the Andes

March 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

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

January 30, 2013 § 2 Comments

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© 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?

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