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I'm Kristi. I'm the artist behind At the Dot Design.
Read more about me
I “met” Hannah Schneider of Little Oak Design Co. on Instagram. She joined my block printing mini-course and we have been commenting and hearting each other’s posts ever since. Her work is beautifully organic and soothing. I hope you enjoy getting to know her a little better. Be sure to read her answer to number 4, her advice is SO good.
I design hand embroidery patterns for the modern home, and I’m slowly but surely building a surface pattern portfolio for wallpaper, gift wrap, and fabric. I’d describe my style as organic, moody, and peaceful. With every design, I try to strike a balance between traditional craftsmanship and modern taste.
Though I work in several different media, there are a few things that remain constant about my art practice. First, the ideation process always involves lots of sketches. I’m a firm believer in the power of an artistic “brain dump”. Getting all my ideas on paper, even as rough thumbnails, paves the way for me to focus on the really promising ideas in more depth.
Because I love to work with my hands (pen and ink, paint, linocut, needle and thread…you name it!), there always comes a moment where I have to get what I’ve made into a digital form. I spend a lot of time with the Image Trace tool in Illustrator and have started leaning on Procreate lately as well.
Finally, I’m a bit of a perfectionist about color and spend a lot of time choosing colors for my final designs. I favor soft, cool tones, but have been known to love a warm accent color. My favorite way to generate color palettes is from famous paintings or photographs I take outdoors.
Nature, always nature! Nothing inspires me like a walk in the woods or the botanical garden. I love lush, textural environments like the forest and find details like waterfalls, moss, and dappled sunlight particularly heart-thrilling.
In terms of man-made sources of inspiration, I love farmer’s markets, art museums, fabric and stationery stores, and antique malls. Favorite artists include John Singer Sargent, Claude Monet, Andrew Wyeth, and William Morris. I also draw a lot of inspiration from block-print florals and Eastern European folk embroidery.
The commonality in many of these sources, I think, is a kind of “organic geometry”…ordered movement that draws the eye exactly where you want it.
Last Christmas, I designed a mini-collection of three embroidery patterns: an advent calendar, a set of botanical ornaments, and a set of gnome ornaments. The practice of honoring my own deadlines for a larger-scale project forced me to stay accountable to myself, and the patterns still feel like they’re the perfect reflection of my artistic brand: modern and organic with a little touch of whimsy.
Here are three things I keep coming back to in my own journey:
1. Create more than you consume. I always do my best work when I sit down to make art before I’ve checked social media for the day. On a similar note: keep your eyes on your own paper and unfollow your favorite people in your industry if you have to! Focus on making work that feels like you, not like anybody else.
2. Just focus on the next right thing. Starting a business involves wearing so many hats that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Make an annual plan, drill down to monthly and weekly goals from there, and then focus on being faithful with what’s in front of you each day.
3. Practice wonder. I’m most inspired when I choose to pay attention to the world around me. Practice the art of noticing beauty even in the mundane, and you’ll find that it snowballs.
As far as digital resources go, the artistic community on Instagram is incredibly kind and vibrant. I’m also part of Flourish with Bonnie Christine and The Studio by Liz Kohler Brown, and love to attend Lissie Teehee’s monthly art hangouts when I can.
I also have been blessed with a close friend at my church who also owns her own design business. She’s a few years ahead of me in business ownership, and it’s amazing to have a friend who also loves to “talk shop”. We swap stories, advice, and ideas, and her friendship has both inspired me and spurred me on. There’s just no substitute for in-person community!