Christiane and I first met years ago when I ordered some artwork from her on Etsy. I was looking for interesting screenprints for our house and fell in love with an amazing bird design she'd created. When the prints arrived, I immediately put them up in my house, and she even included a very sweet note saying that I was the first to purchase from her Etsy shop. About a year later, she applied for a textile design position at our studio and I realized once I reviewed her online portfolio that she was the creator of the beautiful prints hanging in my home. Shortly after that, a new position opened up at the studio and I knew she'd be the perfect fit. Over the years, she's pretty much done every job in the company and traveled with me all over the world. Read more below to learn about her creative process. - Amy Voloshin
As Designer & Art Director, what’s a typical day like for you?
You wouldn’t think this would be a tough question for me, but it is! I always joke that I’m not sure what my job is, and I just assigned myself a random title that only somewhat describes what I do.
The core of my job is designing and managing product development for our collections. I work closely with Amy to concept, create artwork, and make tech packs (informational packs for vendors that contain info like materials, measurements and . I then coordinate with our vendors throughout the lengthy sampling and production process, tweaking and reviewing until everything is as close to perfect as possible.
I also art direct (and sometimes create) photos and graphics for our marketing. I work with our Marketing Manager to create visual content for our website, social media accounts and print materials. I help with visual merchandising for wholesale tradeshows, art markets and our showroom. I also manage internal sales reporting and both wholesale and direct customer service. I’m the one who answers your emails if you contact us directly!
How did you first get into designing and textiles?
I’ve always loved art, ever since I was a little kid taking art classes at a local barn (yes, a barn!). I went to the Maryland Institute College of Art and earned a BFA in fine arts printmaking, studying traditional mediums like intaglio, lithography, and silkscreen, which was my personal favorite. I dabbled in painting and fibers, and have never been afraid of incorporating elaborate print in my own wardrobe! I didn’t set out to design textiles, but it basically ties all of my artistic interests in a bow.
How long have you been part of the Printfresh team and how has your role evolved over the years?
I’ve been with Printfresh Studio for almost 8 years, and with the Printfresh stationery brand shortly after it started about 2-3 years ago. I moved to Philadelphia after college and almost immediately applied and interviewed for a design position at Printfresh Studio. I actually wasn’t hired for that position and took an admin position at a technical school to make ends meet.
Two years later, I was job hunting again and spotted a sales assistant role open at Printfresh Studio and applied again. This time I was hired, and begun a string of different roles that can only be described as “experience in every position at our company.” I was the office manager for a bit before I got the opportunity to transition over to a junior design position on their CAD team. From there, I eventually took on the CAD Art Director role and jumped at the chance to work on the Printfresh stationery line. Now I also work with Amy on her clothing line, Voloshin, designing and art directing textiles for that collection as well.
There was a time that I assumed I would probably only have administrative responsibilities in my career and would be doing design and art on the side in my free time. I love that I’ve been able to grow into a totally creative role that is always changing. I feel so lucky to have landed in a career that I’m actually passionate about.
What’s something you’re currently working on, or recently completed, that you’re excited about?
I am SUPER excited about our upcoming Pajamas. I love writing and stationery, but soft goods and textile design will always be my first love. It was so fun to get really whimsical with the patterns for our first collection, and we’ve had an amazing response from press and buyers so far. We just finished designing our next delivery, and I can’t wait to see the first fabric strike-offs when I’m in India next month!
Can you tell us a little bit about the process of creating a design—from inspiration to finished product?
So much goes into designing our products! We always start with concepting, or gathering lots of ideas and inspiration about what new products we’d like to introduce, what materials we’re really feeling, and what theme or vibe we want to embody. Amy is the driving force behind our aesthetic, and she usually starts things off with a shared Pinterest board where we collect general inspiration images.
Then we have lots of conversations to narrow things down, and we start to decide what and how many silhouettes we’ll be introducing. Next come initial sketches and paintings, scanning and editing the artwork and colors digitally, and finalizing the artwork itself. We then make renderings for everything, which helps us visualize and preview the collection as a whole. I’m a Photoshop whiz, and it’s amazing how realistic the renderings can get!
Once we’ve presented to a few more team members and made final selections and edits, I create detailed “tech packs” with instructions, materials, measurements and Pantones for our vendors to follow in actually creating the products. Tech packs can be pretty tedious, because it is incredibly important that all the information is triple checked and as accurate as possible. A great tech pack makes the probability of getting back great samples so much more likely!
One thing that makes the product development process go so much more smoothly is actually traveling to our factories for the sampling process. Amy and I are lucky enough to go to India twice a year to work with our vendors in person, making sure every detail is correct and gathering inspiration for future development. It’s great to see the facilities and artisans who bind each journal and sew each pouch. It’s incredible to learn how each process actually works and be able to check in and make sure the working conditions are fair and safe.
How would you describe your personal style, and does it influence your designs?
I would say my personal style is bright and bold, 70s and 80s inspired with a touch of bohemian handcrafted magic. I am not afraid of color! I love plants and animals, and am always down for a vintage tropical print or hooped earrings shaped like fish. But I will say that the more time I spend with Amy, the more her wabi-sabi aesthetic seems to rub off on me.
I think my personal style is most apparent in some of our upcoming PJ designs - the Bagheera print which will be online in November is very me. I love vintage record art and funny retro marketing typography that inspired the groovy text throughout our stationery products. I’m also an avid gardener and tie dyer, and some of my personal plants and textiles have secretly made their debut in our shibori and cyanotype collections. Making cyanotypes in my backyard of a marijuana plant that I grew from seed last year is probably the funniest example!
What Printfresh products do you use the most?
Our noteblocks are probably my personal favorites for the office. I love the large noteblock, and have used both the Soft Gradient and the Rose. It’s like a giant post-it note where I can scribble all of my thoughts without having to turn pages or stick to the rigid layout of lines.
I also love the small fabric-covered field notebooks as well as the oversized Hand-Marbled Sketchbook. I always carry a small notebook in my purse, and the Dash & Geometry pair is perfectly sized. And when I’m seriously sketching or drawing for personal illustration or artwork, the larger sketchbook is a better size and has thicker paper that can hold up to gouache and watercolor.
What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
I mentioned before that I love to garden, and I keep lots of houseplants and a small garden with dye plants (madder and indigo), a few fruits and veggies, and mostly native plants and flowers. I own a fixer-upper and usually have some home improvement project going on - most recently my dad has been building me a screened-in porch/roof deck, and friends at Leeward Furniture created a custom oak couch frame that I sewed cushions for!
I’m also very involved at a local animal sanctuary in Kennett Square, PA called Chenoa Manor. I give monthly tours where I introduce visitors to some of our residents like Jamar the HUGE spotted steer, Sprite the emu, Giusseppe the donkey and Shirley the farm pig. I also create all their newsletters, marketing, and photos for social media. I like to keep busy. :)
Any advice for someone looking to get into designing and/or art direction?
Be patient and draw every day! I had a drawing teacher in high school that would always say that for every day you didn’t practice drawing, your skills would be set back two days. Artistic ability is a muscle, and immersing yourself in the industry will help you grow your taste and design skills. When it comes down to it, getting that perfect design job may not happen for you right away - it didn’t for me! But if you let your work ethic shine in your current career, stay vocal about your goals, and keep improving your portfolio in your downtime, you can get there.