I love hearing stories from people who are at the beginning of their chosen career. The process of getting started is every bit as fascinating as the process of design: How Did They Do That? Kit Davidson of dotdotdotDESIGN shares her insights on both; she only started designing repeats about 6 months ago.
Kit trained and worked as an architect with an emphasis on digital design for many years, and often ended up working around 100 hours per week. It was too much. So she added in some more.
“After years of working in architecture, where projects run for years on end, I was craving more immediate inspiration and a more immediate creative outlet. She started a blog called THAT [unreliable] GIRL, filled with the stuff that inspired her – words of wisdom, pretty things, and of course, architecture. “THAT [unreliable] GIRL was a name I coined for myself/my blog back in 2008, long before I really understood the potential reach and impact of blogging. I was working anywhere from 60-100 hour weeks and studying full time too, so I was a chronic last-minute-plan-canceller, hence the name! My life was 95% architecture and 5% sleep. I’m not even sure how I fit in blogging at that stage!”
But through work and study, she managed to evolve her skills to the point of being able to support herself as a freelancer and graphic designer, and now she’s given those crazy hours away.
“Unexpectedly, my writing style and blog design (and even my blog’s name) lead to a number of incredible opportunities from some really supportive people, including the original blog layout for Daydream Lily, publication in Houses Magazine, and my ongoing relationship with Jessica T.
“I’m currently doing business as dotdotdotDESIGN, where in addition to graphic design I also offer both fashion and interior styling services, and design/architecture writing. I’ve been working with Jessica T for the last 3 years to style and design their look books, so the textile design challenge was a natural (but exciting) progression.
“About 6 months ago, the Design Director Jessica Russ challenged me to create two textile designs that would complement her Spring 13 and Summer 13/14 collections. I had aced a tessellation project back in my architecture school days and (over?)confidently accepted.
“My Spring 13 brief was to combine the Japanese-inspired aesthetic of the Eastern Ascendancy collection with the collection’s feature colour, Pantone Fiery Red, and black. “Something floral but not too girly” was also mentioned in passing. My response was to draw upon my own obsession with Washi paper and tape, and add a variety of strongly stylised cherry blossom designs. I also added a light neutral checkered base that ended up complementing many of the more natural tones in the collection.
“My Summer 13/14 brief was to again incorporate the collection’s feature colour, Pantone Blue Curucao, with a ‘Girl and the Sea’ beachy/coastal vibe and an abstract print. My response was to once again turn to Japan and create a pop art-inspired version of Hokusai’s famous ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ (just before pop art returned to the catwalks en masse!). Combining my own love of stripes and polka dots with the aesthetics of polka dot pioneers like Yayoi Kusama (and a bit of Kate Spade for good measure) I created a graphic print that somewhat unintentionally also ended up embracing the Chambray/triple denim trend once printed onto the textured canvas.
“The resulting prints are now available on canvas weekend bags and cosmetics bags, and whilst I am used to seeing my designs in print, it was an incredible feeling to see them on actual products that people can actually carry around!
She works from her home in Brisbane. She describes her space like this:
“A beautiful mess of modern and vintage, with a selection of prints and photographs, cameras, doilies, bunting, an inexplicable number of teacups, and a laptop shoved in between it all.”
“My design aesthetic is usually quite streamlined and “architectural” but my personal style is eclectic, cosy, and a little on the cluttered side! As I work from home, I’ve also created a ‘Sanity Corner’ where I create a little shrine to what’s inspiring me (often my next holiday) and where I can get away from the screen and flip through books and magazines, or just knit and take a little time out!”
Her best piece(s) of advice?
“Just keep creating. Keep taking photos (high school design teacher), keep drawing (architecture mentor), and ‘Just make stuff.’ (Nicholas Felton last week at Semi-Permanent!)
“Seb Lester also highlighted at Semi-Permanent that you can’t be precious with your sketchbooks, which has always been a struggle for me and my rampant perfectionism. I’ve always felt that if I can’t write or draw something perfectly, don’t write/draw anything at all – but it’s finally clicked that this isn’t the way to learn or grow, so I’ve resolved to ditch my gridded Moleskins and move to blank pages.
“Also, believe in yourself. Back your own ideas. I showed a friend my concept for colour-in wallpaper almost 10 years ago and was totally shot down, and I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t believe in myself and pursue it! (Admittedly, my design was/is terrible, but the idea was practically unheard of at the time.)”