August in the District is particularly lazy and hazy - Congress in recess, residents away from the office, students at all levels soaking up the last rays of summer before school starts. In fact, I am writing this post from Cancun on a much-anticipated vacation with my husband's family. Celebrating many milestones this year and eager at a chance to be all together next to blue waters and ancient pyramids, family members flew in as far as The Netherlands. While we're enjoying this week on the Yucatan, I am quite excited to share Kicheko's latest collaboration. Kicheko teamed up with Lorraine Nam, New York-based illustrator, textile designer and paper artist, to produce three distinct images styled with pieces from the new collection. Narrowing down our favorite summer activities to exploring the city, poolside hangs, and weekends at the beach - Lorraine went to work in her Brooklyn-based studio cutting and transforming sheets of paper into 3-dimensional landscapes. Her attention to detail and whimsical product styling evokes a sense of play and reminds us to pay attention to the details and enjoy these hazy days. I chatted with Lorraine about her work and lessons she's learned along the way as an artist in New York City.
Tell us a little about what you do. What do you like about your work?
I like to say that I’m a paper illustrator. I work as a textile/bedding designer where I get to work with a team of talented people and on the weekends and after work during the week, I work on my paper projects which is my own personal creative outlet. I’m constantly thinking about what I can do in my work and usually what I make is reflective of what I’m thinking about and what I think will look really cute as a miniature! I really enjoy using paper as a medium and I’ve been cutting paper for about 8 years before I experimented with using paper 3-dimensionally. I really enjoy telling stories through my visual language.
Tell us more about your design process.
I usually start with an idea. I keep a list on my phone of any ideas I have and the list is always growing. Then I start cutting! I don’t like to overthink an idea because I still want the process to be enjoyable and I want to learn as I go through. Once I’m done with the different “props”, I’ll arrange them together and figure out what the best way to photograph is. Then I take a photo and the last step would be to edit the images to reflect the story I want to tell.
What design in your own work are you incredibly satisfied with/proud of?
I’m always happy with the newest thing I make. Once a project is done, I look forward to starting the next and seeing what happens through the process!
What has been the biggest challenge working in your industry?
Probably the biggest hurdle for me, after moving to New York was creating your own community of creatives. It’s difficult to work in the creative industry and having that support from friends who are doing the same thing or something similar helps tremendously.
If you weren’t at your current job, where would you be?
If I wasn’t working as a textile/bedding designer, I would still be in my studio working on paper projects!
You have a blog called #ffffff walls. What was the impetus or inspiration for the blog?
I created the blog with Jonathan Chapline, who I also went to school with. The idea started after moving to New York and missing that sense of community that we had in school. We were going on these studio visits where we were having these amazing dialogues about art and what it’s like to work as an artist in New York, ESPECIALLY with a limited amount of space! We felt that the work that these artists were creating deserved to be shared and we created the blog as a platform to document this particular moment in which the artist is creating their work.
What’s your favorite artist feature to date?
My favorite studio visit is with Sterling Wells in his Red Hook studio space. His studio visit was one of the first ones we did when we started the blog and it just captures his energy. After working in watercolors and creating landscape paintings, he ventured into sculpture. Sterling showed us his in progress water sculpture in which he proceeded to take out a hose and just douse his studio with water with no care to everything in his small studio space.
Wow, that's ballsy. Now, I want to ask you some rapid fire questions that speak to who you are and what you are learning. Go back one year, what is the best thing you learned last year?
Exploring with paper 3-dimensionally and learning the importance of a good photograph.
What is the best thing you have learned this year? Using Instagram as a way to tell a story and showcase my work.
What is the best habit you have going for you right now? I have a pretty good work habit once I get to my studio. I just need that extra push to get there!
What is your biggest challenge right now? My biggest challenge is having the right work/life balance. I love to work and be productive but I also need to figure out when to take a break!
Name three creatives, artists or style mavens that inspire you?
What books/podcasts/TV shows are you loving right now?
1. Book: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
3. TV/Movie: Frasier and Ex Machina
Most used app on your phone? Instagram! I’m a visual person and I love using the explore feature to find inspiring people doing cool and creative things.
What recipe can you not get enough of? I don’t ever get tired of avocado toast!
Next place you want to travel? There are so many places but India has definitely been on my list for a really long time.
What is something silly that makes you laugh uncontrollably? Cat videos
What makes your heart happy? Definitely food.
Best advice someone has given you or you have given someone…. It’s not someone I know personally (though I’d love to meet him!) but this quote by Ira Glass has always resonated with me.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” -Ira Glass
I have to ask - do you have a favorite Kicheko design? There’s so many to choose from but I think my favorite would have to be the original Parlay Cords. I love that there’s so many combinations to coordinate back to your outfit.
Thanks to Lorraine for taking the time and working with us on this super creative collaboration! We love what you do and especially enjoy collaborating with artists to make something together. Please check out her work and her studio visit blog #ffffff walls - it's full of great conversation and inspiration.