We are so excited to introduce you to Rae Ritchie, our newest designer!
Rae Ritchie is a Minneapolis-based illustrator and surface designer whose work is inspired by nature, vintage children’s books, fables and fairy tales. An award-winning graduate from the University of Wisconsin Stout, she has a strong fashion design background, where she specialized in sweater knit accessories. Rae now creates illustrative print and pattern for the apparel, home and paper industries, primarily working in gauche and ink. A crafter at heart, she can be found in her free time knitting sweaters and crocheting lacy creations. She’s filled with gratitude upon joining the tight-knit quilting industry with her new collection for Dear Stella.
You can find Rae in these places:
Check out this video of Rae working on a print from her very first collection, Desert Bloom. Stay tuned for a sneak peek next week!
Read on for our interview with Rae, after the jump!
DS: How did you discover your passion for illustration and design?
RR: Being the daughter of an art teacher and a musician, I’ve experimented with many art forms from an early age. As a young teenager I was obsessed with writing songs, playing guitar, oil painting and sewing my own clothes. At university I decided to study fashion design, then worked as an accessories designer for 8 years. I made a lot of CAD art, however I missed the grounded feeling I got from creating hand-painted work. Also, the fashion industry just wasn’t for me anymore, so I started painting again, ALL THE TIME. Quickly, I decided to leave my product design job for a more art-based venture, designing print and pattern for the textile and paper industries.
DS: Does what you studied in school apply to your current job?
RR: Besides the technical knowledge of fabrics, sewing and CAD design techniques, my experience at UW-Stout challenged me to work super hard, and I feel that affects my everyday work-flow. Maybe I’ve always been this way, but I focus more on the final product being right, as opposed to how long it takes me to complete, which was definitely a focus at school.
DS: Can you tell us a bit about your design process? What are your sources for inspiration?
RR: When I was a little kid, my dad would read a book to me every night before I went to bed. I think about that time a lot still, and remember the great stories and pictures that shaped who I am as an artist and a person. I love a lot of kids’ movies still; my current favorite: Henry Selick’s “Coraline.” I love the art direction of that film so much: the mood, the lighting, the colors, a secret magical place to go at night. It’s just really inspiring to me! I’ve always been a fan of the slightly macabre, but still young in nature, like the illustrations of Edward Gorey.
Some ideas just come to me, and other times I really need to work to be inspired. I have a ton of gardening and herb books I often look at for flower references and color inspiration. I also love the decorative arts section at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Russian Museum of Art. Inspiration can come from so many places, you just have to pay attention!
For print and pattern work, I usually start with a motif sketch and get painting! When I feel good about the motifs, I run down to my basement and scan the painting, put it into Photoshop, clean it up and start building the repeat. I usually end up spending more time painting then working on the computer, which is how I like it!
DS: What’s your favorite medium to work with?
RR: I really love watercolor and gauche, and I only draw with Muji pens. My new ¼” inch angled paint brush has been a godsend lately. I’ve been using it for everything!
DS: What colors are you drawn to right now?
RR: I have this mossy forest green watercolor that I use WAY too much. That cake is almost totally used up compared to my other colors! I have been really into pastels for a while and washed out neutrals. I tend to shy away from colors that are super bold. I like the focus to be on form, rather than loud color.
DS: When you’re not designing, what are some of your favorite things to do?
RR: I really love cycling and distance running. I like getting inspired from nature, while running along Minnehaha Creek or gardening in my yard. My husband plays in a few bands, so we go to shows pretty often too. I also have a knitting and crochet obsession that has gone way back, so that’s often my favorite winter activity!
DS: What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
RR: Every morning I wake up and meditate for about 10-15 minutes. I really like starting the day with this thoughtful practice which helps clear my mind and start the day fresh. Then I’ll usually eat breakfast and water the garden (if it’s summer/spring). Then it’s off to work in my home office!
DS: What would you never leave home without?
RR: I always carry a sketchbook and a pen with me, to jot down ideas or sketch something out. You never know when a crazy idea will hit you, and I unfortunately can’t always rely on my memory!
DS: We can’t wait for your fabric collection to debut! What sorts of projects do you hope to see made?
RR: I think it would be awesome to see a crazy pillow shaped like a cactus, or a cutie baby outfit. I’m a huge fan of novelty, and I hope these prints inspire crafters to use their imaginations and make some fun items, from home goods, to apparel, accessories, or even a stuffed animal or two! I’m really excited to see what this awesome community comes up with!
Thanks Rae! We are so excited to have you on our team.
Keep your eyes on the blog, because next week we’ll share the first preview of Desert Bloom… We can’t wait to show you!