Instagram Fave - @thegreaterbombay

Rachel Lopez, a journalist in Mumbai, has taken time to record her many rides in taxis with their colorful and kitschy ceilings. Under the Insta handle of @thegreaterbombay, you can savor all the delectable patterns that she captures. The wonderful contrast of her scarves and red-framed glasses with the ceilings just adds that extra vibrancy of mixed patterns that I love. Take the colorful ride with her and enjoy the sights.

My hips don't lie

I have really been terrible about keeping up with posts lately and it's mainly because I took a break from everything while I recovered from hip replacement surgery. That's right, I am now bionic! I feel much too young to have gone through this, but it's a genetic thing and I've been needing a new one for a while. I'm excited to see what a pain-free life can bring me now. I love to walk outside for inspiration and I was greatly limited for a long while, but I will be back in action again very soon. In the meantime, I can post about a trip to a museum I made before the surgery.

I went to the teamLab interactive exhibit at the PACE Gallery in Menlo Park. It runs through December 18th of this year and is absolutely worth a trip if you are in the Bay Area. As stated on their website: 

"teamLab, the renowned Japanese art collective, recognized for challenging and expanding the digital art making practice, and Pace Art + Technology will present Living Digital Space and Future Parks. The large-scale installation will invite participants of all ages to immerse themselves in the multi-room environments spanning 20,000ft² and showcasing 20 digital works."

It is pretty incredible and I could have stayed for hours. Take a look at these videos for a peek at what's in store if you can make it.


Crystal Universe


As a single person who works from home, I find that I spend a lot of time alone. That means I have to work extra hard to get out, see people, make plans with friends, go on adventures and find inspiration. I took a staycation at a friend's house in Sonoma last week so it's been a while since my last post. I love exploring that area as there is endless inspiration. Just getting away from the city is enough for me to feel inspired! The smells, the light and peace and quiet are pretty much heaven to me. 

I took a day jaunt up to Sebastopol, a town I'd never visited before—I loved the small town feel and friendly people. I visited the Luther Burbank Experimental Farm and Arnold Drive (basically whatever Google told me I should do there), then I had a yummy lunch at the Gypsy Cafe on the main drag, stopped into a great gallery and chatted with some friendly locals along the way. 

I don't think my sense of adventure will ever leave me, because these kinds of days feed my soul more than anything else. Having new experiences, being brave, doing things alone, connecting with others outside my daily realm, seeing new things—I will always want more!  

When was the last time you took a day trip by yourself somewhere? Try it!  And see what treasures it brings you.

Junk art is by local artist Patrick Amiot. Every house on Arnold Drive has one of his works in the yard. Kitty Hawk Gallery on Main street is owned and run by artist Grace Levine. The works here are hers. Floral images were taken at the Luthur Burbank Experimental Garden.

Nature Inspired

Since I've been working from home this past year, I sometimes get a bit str crazy. For me, the best solution for this is to get out into nature and fresh air. I decided to take a drive up to Mount Tamalpais yesterday morning. It was so refreshing! It's only 40 min from the city after all and it's really paradise on a weekday morning. Very few people are up there and I kinda love to be there as the fog lifts and reveals the amazing green hills and views below. 

If you follow my two Instagram feeds (this one and this one) you might have seen a few pictures I posted. There were all sorts of sweet and colorful wildflowers all over the hills and they got me inspired to make this when I got home. 

All designs and images © Katja Ollendorff

All designs and images © Katja Ollendorff

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

Jungle findings

I've been in Florida at my family home for a few weeks visiting my Mom. She has the lushest backyard jungle and I love to clip various fronds that I use as inspiration for paintings. I started to photograph them, but then I got distracted and jumped in the pool. 

Florida leaves | Katja

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

Perfect Light

I was driving down the street heading to Ocean Beach for my weekend walk, and out of the corner of my eye I saw this amazing blue color. I had to circle back so I could take a picture. If the light hadn't been hitting it just so, I probably would have driven right by.


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

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