Inspired by TV Textiles

A lot of things inspire my designs. Being outside and walking around town or in nature are big sources of inspiration. But on days when I'm stuck inside or just enjoying some TV time all cozy on the couch, I still can't stop myself from noticing patterns wherever I look. I have even saved a few images over the years on my Instagram feed #tvtextiles.

I love the series The Durells in Corfu (PBS Masterpiece Theater). It's set in 1935 and I am so in love with the fashion that is depicted on the show. I can't help but take snapshots of special patterns I notice as I watch. Afterward, I will look through the images and make little sketches to see a theme arise.  Attached are (blurry) examples of my captures and the sketchbook entry, then design, that followed. Inspiration has no boundaries! What's your secret source of inspiration?

 One of my inspired design

One of my inspired design

Unusual Beauty

One of my favorite boards on my own Pinterest wall is called Unusual Beauty. This is a place where I save all my favorite images of things that don't seem to belong anywhere else. They are beautiful, strange, mesmerizing and really make me want to linger longer. Click through to see more!

Please note: None of these images are my own they are for personal inspiration purposes only - please click through for sources.

An Icon Lost

Bowie
Bowie
Bowie

The death of David Bowie is still with me a week later. His passing has probably affected me more than any other celebrity in recent years because of his influence on me in my life. I grew up with his music through all the various stages of my youth—from my pre-teen years onward.

My older brothers introduced me to him in the early 80s by giving me a copied cassette tape of Scary Monsters with a handwritten DAVID BOWIE scrawled across it. As a twelve year old his music scared me a little. It was moving and different, and I was pressed to listen to it and almost had to learn to love it. And I did. 

His influence in music, fashion and his courage to be different, permeated the universe. The day he died, I imagined his music being played all around the world and rising up in to the air. I think we are drawn to talented people especially when they are as courageous and forward-thinking with their creativity as he was. 

Bowie
Bowie

Happy New Year 2016!

This quote really moved me when I read it. I often get caught up in thoughts of my past, how wonderful things were—how I thought nothing could be better than the years I went to NYU, or lived in Paris or first arrived in San Francisco. I think about how young, pretty, talented, healthy and strong I was. But wait! Aren't I still all of those things just more grown up and with more amazing stories under my belt? Maybe I have a few extra creaks in my bones and extra pounds around the waist, but I'm still those things. 

I have decided to commit myself to living as healthy and vibrant a life I can—full of creativity, time with family and friends and things that matter. I will always cherish my past experiences—all the moments I can relive, and the stories I can tell—but I'm so ready to see what comes next. I have a feeling the more I open myself up to finding out what the future holds, the more I will experience. Bring it on!

I wish you all many new experiences and some new stories to tell in 2016. Happy New Year everyone! Much joy to you in the coming year. 

Getting Unstuck

As a designer, I need fuel. Creative fuel. When my tank is empty and I've hit a block, the paint doesn't flow as easily and I know I need a spark to reignite my creativity. That's when I go to my three favorite ways to get inspired:

  • Taking a walk around town or in nature.
  • Perusing a library or used bookstore for great art book finds.
  • Visiting a museum—preferably alone and very early in the morning.

When I take walks, I love to bring a camera with me. It encourages me to not only see things differently, but to look for things. I will come home with photos of the day and see what I can make with them. Sometimes I'll make a collage of images to create a mood board (or a blog post). Other times I will use the photos and manipulate them to create a pattern. Even just the act of walking, and getting fresh air will clear my head and wipe the slate clean.

Books are another fantastic source of inspiration. You don't have to spend a lot of money on them either. I often make trips to used book stores or the public library and sit on the floor flipping through art reference books—not just on textiles and pattern—but illustration, photography and art. They just open up my mind to different ideas and ways of looking at things. Sometimes I will even snap a picture from the book to remind myself of a color palette, or jot down the name of a designer to investigate further online.

My all-time favorite way to get inspired is to go to a museum. The earlier the better, the fewer crowds the better. I recall a time I went to the Legion of Honor in San Francisco on a Tuesday morning at 9:00AM, and I was the first one in. The hair on my arms kinda stood up. It was the quietest, loveliest experience and just made me feel all kinds of creative! 

Removing myself from my workspace is really the key. No matter what I choose to do, I trust that the creativity will come back. I have learned not to panic and accept it as part of the process. I allow myself the time to recharge and it always pays off. Plus, it's pretty fun. 

How do you recharge?

©Katja Ollendorff
©Katja Ollendorff
©katja ollendorff

Inspired by: Miguel Mesa

This Colombian designer's work totally caught my eye. Not only is it rich in method, texture and color, but has a powerful background story as well. The collection is called "Potosi" named after the richest silver mine on earth (located in Bolivia). The colorful torn strips of paper running through each piece are meant to recall the destructive paths that are made to the land when mining the silver. He says "In the garments those scars are the ripped paper...I home-dyed over 40 colors of a textile cotton waste and used PET to generate the headpieces."

Hearing the inspiration behind a collection or piece of art always makes it that much more interesting and beautiful to me. Whether it's to make a political statement or just translate a simple idea that comes to mind—on the vast spectrum of inspiration, isn't that what art is no matter the medium? What inspires you?

Image from Trendland_Miguel Mesa

Quotation, info and images are from a Trendland article written by Anna Canlas May 2014.

Image from Trendland_Miguel Mesa
Image From Trendland_Miguel Mesa
Image from Trendland_Miguel Mesa

Seeing Art Where You Are

What do you call art? How do you define it? I believe that art is all around us. It's in nature, in books, in the faces of those we love, in our hearts, on the streets, on the walls—everywhere we look and everywhere we are. Just look around and you will see it. Join me on Instagram @katjaollendorff and share your vision of what art is #artwhereyouare.

 Is this art? Some colorful lines on a sidewalk.

Is this art? Some colorful lines on a sidewalk.

 Ot this? Flowers silhouetted against a misty mountain.

Ot this? Flowers silhouetted against a misty mountain.

 A color blocked wall.

A color blocked wall.

 My niece Amy dancing under the stars. I think this is art.

My niece Amy dancing under the stars. I think this is art.

If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to...

...visit the Japanese toy exhibit at the airport. Seeing as I've got the German "if you aren't early you are late" gene, I got to SFO bright and early for my flight. What a pleasant surprise it was  to come across this great exhibit. Click here for more info on all the great goodies that are on display. Oh, and anytime you are in San Francisco, wearing a flower in your hair is always acceptable!

Doors of The Outer Sunset

I've hung out in the Sunset district of San Francisco many times. I've driven the streets—past the side-by-side pastel houses and tangle of overhead wires. But walking these streets takes things to another level. Although pockets are becoming more popular as of late, this has not typically been a destination neighborhood. Areas like this one should be visited more often as they encourage you to LOOK a little deeper to see the beauty in the everyday. Plus, you just might stumble upon some awesomeness such as these doors. 

©Katja | Sunset Doors.jpg

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

My new walk to work takes me through Chinatown and it is such a change from my quiet jaunt down Bush Street. Yesterday, I saw live fish being delivered off a truck, women selling vibrant red gladiolas and cherry blossom branches, fruit stands being loaded up. The sights, sounds, and smells are so unique. It's definitely a different way to wake up in the morning!  I just love the red and orange everywhere as they begin celebrations of the New Year of the Horse 4712. 

Katja | happynewyear.jpg

80s Inspired

Time for another trend I've been seeing popping up on Pinterest. There are lots of bright colors, fragmented bold shapes and squiggles. Very reminiscent of the 80s I grew up in. A few represented here are from the 80s and some are new. Can you tell which is which?

  From Top Left: Sunny Todd, Frank Stella, George Sowden, YokoHonda, Swatch, Grassland & Geometric

From Top Left: Sunny Todd, Frank Stella, George Sowden, YokoHonda, Swatch, Grassland & Geometric

Fairytale Youth

I just love going to the public library. With the diminishing number of bookstores in the city, there are fewer places one can sit among books, lolling on a rolling step stool, perusing attractive covers and being inspired by an unfamiliar author or artist. 

One such artist I happened upon is Ivan Bilibin. He was an early 20th century illustrator and set designer (did work for the Ballet Russes) who was inspired by Slavic folklore.

I was struck by the folk nature of the illustrations that called to mind my youth and the hours I spent poring over old books of German fairytales. I would beg my mother to let me color in the black line-drawn illustrations of my books. Once, she did (and I think we still have the book). When I saw these colorful Bilibin illustrations, I felt these were exactly what I had envisioned in my child's mind's eye. Although the outcome of my renderings was quite different!

I feel completely transported and satisfied somehow, staring at these amazing illustrations—especially the patterns and elaborately detailed garments of each scene and character. Here are just a few examples.

 Ivan Bilibin

Ivan Bilibin

 Ivan Bilibin

Ivan Bilibin

 Ivan Bilibine 1930 Dance costume

Ivan Bilibine 1930 Dance costume

Playtime

Well it's my birthday on Monday and I had grand plans for a spa weekend getaway.  But alas, I have been struck by the killer flu bug. So instead of being outside enjoying the glorious December weather up in Sonoma, I have been confined to my apartment in the city. What to do to brighten my mood? Watch some super cheesy holiday movies, get out some favorite Christmas decorations and have a little playtime in the studio!

Katja | Studio playtime
 My German Oma's hand-embroidered Advent calendar.  I just wish I could find the chocolates on string to go with it.

My German Oma's hand-embroidered Advent calendar.  I just wish I could find the chocolates on string to go with it.

 Finnish straw reindeer and box 

Finnish straw reindeer and box 

Press Pause

You know you are obsessed with pattern when you can't help but notice the curtains or wallpaper in the background in a scene on TV. While normal people are watching the characters, I'm peeking around the room on Downton Abbey and noticing the sofa or a collar on Lady Mary's jacket. Sometimes I'm so taken with something I have to pause the show to yes, take a picture of the screen.  

lady mary.jpg
DOOR.jpg
IMG_0586.jpg
IMG_2485.jpg

Sea Ranch

My friends invited me up to their amazing getaway up the coast in The Sea Ranch this weekend. Spent some time at the tide pools, the beach, the forest—all in the misty fog. Breathed in lots of fresh air and ended each day with great food and a dip in the hot tub. What a way to unwind! It was heavenly! 

 Collecting driftwood

Collecting driftwood

 Sea Ranch findings

Sea Ranch findings