Please join us in celebrating this month’s spotlight surface designer, Hannah Katarski. We know you’ll find her story inspiring!
Please introduce yourself.
Hi! I’m Hannah from Western Australia. I’m a surfer, teacher and illustrator. I have always been a maker. I made my own clothes as a teen and would scour my nanna’s Golden Hands magazines as a kid looking for all the macrame patterns. Embroidery, felting, beading, marbling, jewellery making: I have done it all and have the craft stash to show for it.
One of the things I treasure the most is the opportunity to create. That, and food!
Tell us a little bit about your design journey.
It has been a slow evolution into surface design. I have been painting for over ten years and then got serious about 5 years ago. I took a detour into printmaking for a while and was initially exhibiting and trying to sell my work in the fine art market. It didn’t feel like a great fit.
Then I started creating prints and cards, which I still sell on Etsy, but eventually, I heard about surface pattern design in a Skillshare class, and it was a lightbulb moment. It is a good niche for me, stylistically, where I can strike the right balance between the amount I can create and the income I can derive.
Do you have a favorite portfolio design or client collaboration?
There are a lot of favourites, but my collaboration with Monarch Australia has been great. It was the first commissioned gig. I designed three patterns for them to use on baby products and cloth nappies. It is a real treat seeing your designs live on products that people use everyday. I felt that they were a good fit ethically and aesthetically.
What or who are you inspired by?
Everything! I find inspiration in surf trips with my girlfriends, old costumes, colour combinations, my pets. The list really is endless and I’ve finally accepted that I will never be able to bring every idea I have to life.
Do you have resources you’d like to recommend?
I have invested in a Wacom tablet with a screen which has been a lifesaver. Especially for cleaning artwork scans.
What do you like to do outside of surface design?
I work part-time as a freelance illustrator/surface designer. My day job — which I am lucky enough to work part-time these days — is working as Cultural Development Officer for the Arts for a large local government. In this role I commission public artworks, murals and manage the City’s Art Collection.
These two jobs have been mutually beneficial. Learning about SPD has allowed me to create more opportunities for the artists I contract. Working in government has given me a lot of transferrable skills in terms of contracts and responding to briefs, as I’m normally on the procurement end of things.
My main hobby is surfing! It has taken me all over the world on fun adventures and definitely inspires a lot of my work.
When you look back at your design journey so far, what are you most proud of?
I think I’m always most proud of the project I’ve just finished! I’m also proud of how much I’ve learned over the last few years. Each little lesson builds on what you know today.
If you could offer advice to other designers who are struggling, what would that be?
My advice is don’t neglect the admin. As much as we all want to focus on creating, you need to make opportunities for yourself. Almost every job that has come my way, I’ve initiated. Also, always sign a contract before you start work.