Designer Spotlight: Katja Ollendorff

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Over the past month we've switched up our Designer Spotlight column. Normally, we feature fashion designers of the traditional variety, but we wanted to branch out and take you behind the scenes, specifically into the world of textile design. 

This week's textile designer, Katja Ollendorff, is fantastic inspiration for all of you self-starters. She found her calling later in life, went out and acquired the skills she needed, and she hasn't stopped since.

Let's meet her!

Katja Ollendorff is a prolific surface pattern designer and illustrator based in San Francisco, CA. She creates colorful, fresh textiles inspired by a global cultural perspective.

Growing up, Katja spent time overseas. Today, her work is influenced by the sights and cultures she was exposed to in her youth, as well as the travel she still does today. Heavily "inspired by folk cultures, city streets, and the endless beauty in nature," her work is vibrant, playful and bold. 

Katja told Notes on Design in an interview, 

I get very inspired walking in nature. I also love perusing used book stores for textile books and going to the library and just letting myself get lost in the art and textile sections. Things always pop out at me when I just let myself be curious. I always get inspired most when I’m not looking for something specific.

I also refer back to my many Pinterest boards if I’m stuck, and just look at the favorite things that I’ve collected. I’ve collected them for a reason—whether it be an interesting color palette or inspiring folk design detail— and using those images as a jumping off point always helps.

Katja got into textile design later in life. Before she became a designer, she worked in advertising, but not as a creative -- she was a Project Manager. After 10 (yes, 10) years working in advertising, she switched gears to pursue textile design. 

She jumped into her new passion full-force, taking night classes in Berkeley for surface pattern design and filling her weekends with painting workshops. During this time, she also honed her painting skills in a multitude of mediums and gained proficiency in digital art staples like Photoshop and Illustrator. 

Katja graduated from the Institute for Textile Print Design in Berkeley, CA (formerly CA School of Professional Fabric Design) after completing a two-year intensive curriculum followed by an additional two-year apprenticeship program. 

With nearly half a million followers on Pinterest today, Katja's pins mirror the beauty seen in the art world, whether it's the creative combination of saturated hues, works of other artists, or fashion-friendly things that attract the viewer's eye. 

Today, Katja is known for curating and collaborating on Pinterest with companies such as J.Crew and Rachel Zoe. She also sells her work on her website. (Even better, some of her art prints are only $25, so they're college student-affordable!)

As with my last featured textile designer, I found Katja's work on Pinterest. (Yeah... I basically live there!) Her work proves that you can do anything you put your mind to in life. So what if you didn't major in -- or even spend the first ten years of your career in -- your ideal field? You can change, evolve, and learn, and, like Katja, achieve your dreams.

What do you think?

What do you think about Katja's designs and prints?What other designers should we feature in our spotlight next? Let us know in the comments below!

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