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Today we're getting to know the graphic designer behind our 2017 Leo collection, Shanna Kesler. Not only is Shanna a talented designer, but one of the biggest inspirations in my life. She’s a world traveler, a go-getter, and the sweetest, most incredible Mom you'll ever meet. She also just happens to be my big Sister! :) Kate was kind enough to come up with some questions for Shanna about her background and design process, so enjoy the read and thank you Shanna for all your help this last year!
Give us an introduction! Where you live, about your kids, hobbies, interests, etc.
I’m currently living in Seattle with my two kids and husband. (Clementine, age 2.5 years and Winston, 8 months.) I have a love of being outdoors, as do my children. Fortunately some of our interests overlap as this season of life feels intensely centered around my kids and our shared interests. (i.e. walks around the neighborhood, exploring local parks, trips to the aquarium, and the beach.) I really enjoy being in nature, hiking, and doing yoga as often as I can. I love to travel, but have definitely slowed down on seeing different parts of the world since I've had kids. Haven't lost the wanderlust though.
Give an overview of your design background. Where did you go to school and how did you land in textile design?
I feel like my background is somewhat involved, but at the same time not really. I've always been drawn to the arts and pursuing a creative field. I got married really young and was very practically minded during my college years. I studied communications and design at ASU. I worked in marketing for several years designing marketing collateral for businesses, both in-house and also as a freelancer. Lots of brochures, annual reports, booklets, that sort of thing. I mean, I really enjoyed it back then, but I always dreamed of doing something else. Something that I couldn't quite put my finger on.
It was after I had my first child and became a mother that I started to take a step back from the type of work that I was doing. Eventually I took a hiatus from working at all. I decided if I went back to work, it needed to be doing something that I was passionate about, something that felt creatively fulfilling to me.
When Stacie called me up and asked me if I'd be interested in designing textiles for her, I knew that was it. That's exactly what I wanted to be doing all along. It feels good to be working again, and to be doing something that I love.
Tell us about the process to make these designs! Do you paint the designs and go from there? Is it all digital? Break down the process a bit for us!
My process is pretty simple. For the most part it involves a few paint brushes, watercolor, and paper. I like to experiment with different textures, so sometimes my process involves whatever is lying around the house to be honest. I'm always fascinated to see beautiful patterns/textures emerge by simply making marks on paper using paint and random found objects.
I typically create a pattern on paper by hand using brush strokes and sometimes found objects. Once I have a nice looking pattern with interesting texture I scan it into the computer. I use the computer to incorporate a color story and to make the pattern a repeatable design.
After Stacie approached you, what was step 1 for you? How did you (or both of you!) choose the palette?
Working with my sister is an absolute dream! If only working with all clients could be that easy! I don't know if it's solely because she is that awesome to work with, or if its also because we're sisters and we tend to read each other's minds at times. I mean, a collaboration together can be a text message followed by a quick phone call with a few words exchanged and we are on the same page, just like that! There's also just so much trust there, it feels very synergistic.
What inspired your 2017 Leo designs?
The coral dash print was inspired by a found object, a vintage vase that I own. Each mark is unique and has a hand-drawn quality to it. Something that I try to evoke in my patterns.
The Spindrift print was inspired by the wind and the sea. One of my favorite places of all time is Pfieffer beach in Big Sur. I used to live a short 20 minute drive from there and would frequent this beach on the weekends. Memories of sitting on the purple sand, feeling the windy sea air, watching the waves crash onto rock formations. Sea spray has a beautiful quality to it. Wild, random, free. That's what inspired the Spindrift print.
The dot print was my take on a traditional polka dot. Scattered, free, unrestrained. Same goes for the use of negative space in the pattern, a little bit random and not especially tidy. I think there's a bit of magic that happens when creating patterns free-hand. Something about the process and the imperfections that occur organically, making the pattern truly unique.
What is your favorite print and why?
And there you have it! We've put Shanna back to work for our SS17 collection and can't wait to show off what she's come up with. (It's gonna be GOOD guys!) She's truly a gem and we feel so lucky to have such talent in the fam. ;)
Family photo session via Seattle based photographer Whit McGuire.