A surface pattern and apparel designer based in San Francisco, and a regular contributor to the Patternmash Project since day one, this month we are shining the Patternmash Designer Spotlight on Kristin Renner.
To view Kristin’s Designer Profile and complete Patternmash portfolio, click here.
Q. There are lots of people involved with the project, especially students, who put a lot of pressure on themselves to find something that’s going to pay their rent and make them feel fulfilled as a designer within the first 6 months after graduating. For lots of people, me included, this doesn’t happen. Do you support yourself just with your designing and styling work, or do you have a day job?
A. I currently work a day job in addition to my doing my personal work, which can definitely be a balancing act. San Francisco is an expensive city to live in so it helps to have another job at the moment. To any of the designers that are still students, I would say don’t be afraid or discouraged if you need to take other work or intern. I’ve been out of school for a few years but Ive also moved around to various cities and had a lot of different jobs that have all taught me new things, including unpaid internships and not so glamorous freelance gigs but they have shaped who I am and allowed me to become confident in my current endeavors. And if you do land a dream job right out of school, hats off to you!
Q. How do you fit your designing around your other work commitments? Do you prefer the mornings or evenings, or do you just keep separate days?
A. As I mentioned, it can be a balancing act, but I am lucky in that my other job allows me very long and late mornings to myself so this is when I get most work done. I used to be a grumpy morning person when I was younger but I’ve grown to love this part of the day so much I actually can’t wait for it when I got to bed haha. Waking with the sun, cooking breakfast and looking over my current projects is my time to mellow and focus on what I want to tackle that day. Then I knock it out for a few hours.
Q. Tell us about your work space and routine. Do you ever veg on the sofa with your laptop whilst finishing things off or researching? Do you listen to music while you are working?
A. I don’t have a proper ‘work-space’ since my boyfriend and I share a small one bedroom apartment. We do have a small nook where we set up to get work done, which is nice because it feels slightly more secluded or separated from the rest of the apt and gets decent sunlight. But more often I like to work in our dining / kitchen area because Im always cooking and can easily bounce back & forth and this area gets the best sunlight, which I find the most important aspect in keeping my energy and motivation.
I always have music going while I work, though it does depend what project Im on at the time. If I’m working on sewing and drafting, it’s almost always Billie Holiday or some jazz / swing station, so I can concentrate on the technical stuff. If I’m painting or designing patterns on the computer my mood tends to be more upbeat and I listen to garage rock / oldies, 70s punk rock, etc. I grew up on oldies with my dad so I think something about this makes me feel carefree, like a kid again and boosts my creativity.
Q. In one of your photos there is a huge stack of sketchbook. What do you use them all for?~
A. I know its a lot! Sometimes I’ll misplace one and be running around crazy trying to find it, instead of just using another one.. because I KNOW that ONE is the meant for whatever I need to do at that moment, ha.
Another couple of them are for painting and have higher quality paper, one square format and one large letter format. Then one for jotting down ideas, lists, etc, and two more that are grid formats which is perfect for mapping out geometric surface patterns. I blame this on being a Virgo and our nature for obsessing over organization.
Q. What has been your favourite PM project so far, and why?
A. I think my favourite is the very first one, Pop President. The excitement of starting something new combined with a theme I was easily stoked on and the story behind the pattern makes it a special one.
Q. Your work is very rarely figurative, however I know from previous submissions to Patternmash, such as the palm reading from project #1, that you like to include hidden stories and reference points in your design work. Is this the case with a lot of your designs? Or is sometimes enough to just see a lovely building on your travels and let it do the work for you?
A. My work tends to take different directions so it really just depends what I’m feeling. I find it interesting and challenging to inject a hidden reference and see if others will pick up on it, like a secret conversation between the maker and the viewer. Although being in a very visual field, it’s often about seeing the way colors interact or the pleasing appearance of shapes working together.
Q. You mention in your designer profile that, like me, you love a dig through a flea market! Do your finds influence your design work, eg. as print or colour references? What has been your best buy?
A. Yes! The flea market is one of my happy places; being surrounded by such a variety of treasures from all eras. I’m a history nerd and daydream of living in different decades, but since that just isn’t possible I can pretend a little with bits and bobs I find at the markets. And even if I go home empty handed, I always leave feeling inspired. I take a lot of photos on these trips of unique pieces of furniture, textiles, artwork, clothing, etc. for reference later. I think my best find was at the first flea I went to when I arrived in SF, and I found these beautiful hand loomed ikat pants for 5 bucks. They still have the original garment label which I looked up and discovered they came from a gift shop in Guatemala. I wish I had 10 more pairs like them since I wear these way too much! I’ve also found some really special art prints and graphic design paraphernalia.