VIVIAN KVITKA | SURFACE PATTERN DESIGNER | BERLIN, GERMANY
Vivian Kvitka makes bold and funky-fresh patterns for weirdo-cool ladies and smart kids…and she’s really good at it. Her work perfectly balances sincerity and skill with smart lighthearted charm. One of my favorite things about browsing through her work are the pattern descriptions. GIRL WITH A FERN is described as “one part librarian and one part Instagram celebrity” and her SEQUIN pattern appropriately encourages us to “Shine Bright like a Sequin baby". Her work undeniably jumps off the surface and into our lives, welcomed with open arms.
Below, Viv eloquently breaks down her creative process, talks about entrepreneurial challenges, her current inspirations and life in Berlin so read on and enjoy!
Images of Vivian in her apartment by quaagmire
Can you talk a little bit about your background? How did you become interested in art and pattern design?
I spent hours of my childhood learning folk crafts and traditional women’s work from my grandmother. She was the first artist in my life, though I don’t think she would call herself one.
I remember walking up and down the aisles of the fabric store running my fingers over bolts of fabric stopping whenever a color or texture pulled me to it. We bought countless yards of fabric, some of which were turned into matching dresses or skirts, most sat folded where we would stare at it and imagine all the things we could make.
I began designing patterns a year out of art school. I had been working as an event designer and I missed getting to work with my hands rather than tell others what to do. I fell in love with surface pattern design incredibly quickly. It had always been part of my life but I hadn’t known there was a name, let alone a whole industry for it!
Being an artist and creative thinker has always been the foundation of my identity.
What does your current design process look like?
I usually start with a client brief that gives me clues as to what kind of aesthetic they are looking for, what the end product with be and so forth. I’ll spend several hours doing visual research and create a moodboard that reflects my understanding of the brief. I’ll generate a concept sketch or collage and present it to the client for feedback. From there I paint or draw until I have a large range of motifs that I can manipulate inside photoshop or illustrator. I love the process of lining up each piece so that the pattern repeats perfectly. Once I’m feeling satisfied with the pattern I’ll send it off to the client for one more review before the final edits.
When I’m designing for my pattern design brand TheGoodVIV, I allow myself to draw or paint until I start to notice a theme or a style I’m particularly excited by. I’ll force myself to draw the same motif 50 times to see what variations I can produce. I like to design in collections, they allow me to think more clearly about the intended application of the patterns.
I love the way you describe your pattern collections. I think my favorite might be "Support Confetti, its like listening to studio applause on Youtube when you're feeling blue". Can you talk about the inspiration behind your lighthearted approach?
Thank you! Perhaps my favorite part about making patterns is the idea that these patterns will become part of someone’s everyday. That patterned notebook you carry around everyday affects you in subtle ways. The things that we see repeatedly have a great impact on us, and if I can make that someone feel a little lighter or take themselves a little less seriously for a few seconds each day, then my passion feels worthwhile.
Does living in Berlin influence your work or creativity?
This is such a hard question because I don’t know which ways it doesn’t impact my everything. I know I produce work at a very high speed here because everyone around me is highly driven and are constantly working at their passions. I love that I can’t become numb to how much change has taken place in the very place I’m standing. That gives me so much hope and optimism.
What are the biggest creative/professional challenges you've come across in the last year?
This year has been a test of my faith in my skills and in the career path I’m creating. Learning to say no to other projects and people has been really difficult as I had taken the motto “say yes to everything” to heart. Staying the course and continuing to do my best work even when progress feels slow is terrifying, but I’m making a bet and I have to stick with it to find out if I’m doing it right.
How does social media play a role in your career as a designer?
The only social media I use for TheGoodVIV is Instagram. I am hugely addicted to Pinterest and have been for years but I don’t use that for promoting my work. I have learned to love Instagram in a whole new way since I began posting my own work. It is such an immediate way to share my work and while that can be really scary and make me hyper critical of my work, it also feels really gratifying and amazing when people interact with work that has been private for so long.
Does collaboration play a role in what or how you create work?
It really depends on the project. Often briefs from clients are vague which gives me a lot of room to make my own analysis of what I think the brand or project needs. When I am adding to my own repository of designs it is purely my own work.
Who/What is inspiring you right now?
I have been looking at modern quilters pretty extensively lately. The way that quilters use patterned fabric is vastly different from fashion. Last august I took a trip to Joshua Tree, CA to visit my brilliant friend Taylor Compton who runs Rustic Threads Fiber Studio out there. I grew up in the southwest, but had never seen that part of the desert. The landscape is so beautiful it makes my heart ache. The sun out there pierces my soul through and through. I dream of owning a house in JT. I just finished designing a collection loosely inspired by my love for the desert. It is up on my website now.
Five artists/designers the world should be watching out for?
I just started working with Rebecca Hui a kick-ass entrepreneur and official #GIRLBOSS who has recently founded a company called TOTO EXPRESS which is working with artists in rural India to license their art to new audiences and protect their dying industry.
- My Sister Theora Kvitka draws hilarious mini comics on the pains of “urbanity.” They will make you cringe and laugh uncomfortably.
- Katie Armstrong, a fellow Berliner and one of my all time favorite artists.
- Alexa Shoen is a jazz singer, content manager, and my unofficial business coach, she can be yours too just sign up for her easily digestible, honest, and helpful newsletter
- Maansi Jain is a fashion blogger, photographer, sculpter-painter, and curator. She has lived all over the world and her work reflects the mash of so many different cultures.
Five of your favorite places or small businesses in Berlin?
- KN- Room for Art in Context is a gallery/co-working/event/artist residency space in Kreuzberg.
- OSLO Cafe is the very best place to get a cup of coffee in the city
- The Turkish Market on Maybach Ufer is a weekday outdoor grocery and fabric market along the canal. It’s so heavenly.
- Templehoff park - the old airport that has been turned into a massive public park
- Boxhagnerplatz Markt - a Sunday flea market that sells all kinds of vintage housewares and goodies
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
I think the best advice I've received is to write down, photograph, document everything that inspires you in the moment that you experience it. Inspiration comes from the most random of places and it can be hard to remember what it was about that thing/moment that clicked unless you have a record of it.
Your own words of wisdom for young artists/designers?
Wake up every morning and make more stuff, show everyone you can, tell everyone you can. Make plans, tell everyone you know about them and ask them for help. Make up routines and relish in them! Make a Bullet Journal!
What's next for you?
I am currently in conversation with a few companies about full time positions as in-house surface pattern designer. I am really looking forward to working with a team again and seeing my designs come to life at a bigger scale.