Please join us in celebrating this month’s spotlight surface designer, Adrienne E B Allen. We know you’ll find her story inspiring!
Please introduce yourself.
Hello! I’m Adrienne — I’m an artist and textile designer currently living in the woods of Maine. I love bright and unusual color palettes, creepy themes, and cute creatures. I’m a little too restless for my own good, and I adore working with materials of all kinds.
Tell us a little bit about your design journey.
My trajectory as a creative person has been all over the map. Art was my first — and forever — passion in life. I started drawing when I was too young to remember. When I was a kid, I was either outside digging up worms or deeply involved in some sort of artistic endeavor. I was an anxious, serious little girl and had trouble adjusting to nearly everything I encountered in life. But my artwork was a constant support, an outlet for magical investigations.
In college, I focused on painting and printmaking. Then, after I graduated in 2013, a fateful turn of events threw me into designing woven textiles for the home goods market (which I still do).
Over the next few years, I grew to love the product development process and became deeply excited by the idea of bringing art into peoples’ lives through everyday objects. Since then, entering the world of surface design has been a major dream of mine. I’m super excited to bring my creative vision to the table. Finally, I’ve made the leap and I can’t wait to see where it takes me!
Do you have a favorite portfolio design or client collaboration?
Probably my two favorite portfolio designs are my “Going Batty” and “Zombie Makeup” patterns. Both of these complex tiles were prepared for repeat manually, which I think gives them a unique look. Plus, they both really illustrate what I’m about as a designer.
What or who are you inspired by?
My drawings and patterns are super nostalgic for me! I’m greatly inspired by all the cool stuff I loved as a kid growing up in the 90s and early 2000s. My sister and I spent hours admiring and trading our Pokemon card and Lisa Frank collections. I was a big sticker fanatic and lived for watching the Ninja Turtles and Tim Burton movies.
My Creepy Crawler oven was constantly filling the house with the stink of burnt plastic. All I really want is to evoke that type of childlike enthusiasm with my work — there’s nothing like that vibrancy, and I’ll always treasure that I got to experience it.
What do you like to do outside of surface design?
Besides doing surface design I am a weaver, newbie spinner, and aspiring home chef. I also have a huge passion for fitness (specifically weightlifting) and mind/body work. And I’m a big fan of being out in nature as much as I can.
When you look back at your design journey so far, what are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of finally taking the plunge and committing myself to just…trying to make something happen. I dreamed about pursuing surface design for many years, but could never organize myself enough to make a solid portfolio.
I think I dealt with a lot of self-doubt, especially since I knew my vision was a little out there. Starting this new phase of my creative journey has pushed me out of my comfort zone, which is scary, but also exciting. I’m so glad that I’m allowing myself the space to take on a new challenge.
If you could offer advice to other designers who are struggling, what would that be?
I used to feel so much stress over whether or not I would ever “get there” — be successful, accomplish my dreams, have the life that I wanted, etc. As yet another busy person with little time, I blamed everything else for getting in my way. The older I get, the more it’s slowly sinking in that no one ever really “gets there” — that’s both the beauty and frustration of life.
This realization has been freeing, but I also still need constant reminding: embrace finding satisfaction in the process of going somewhere, knowing that once you arrive, there will always be something else you have your sights on (which is cool!).
Find moments every day to work on what you love, focus on the present, and have faith that little actions add up to larger accomplishments.