Please join us in celebrating this month’s spotlight surface designer, Kathrin Woo. We know you’ll find her story inspiring!
Please introduce yourself.
Hi, I am Kathrin Woo and I am from Berlin, Germany. I started designing from scratch in 2018. Before that, I’ve worked in sales and as a teacher. In my free time, I have tried several creative hobbies like pottery, knitting, calligraphy, miniature buildings, and photography. Arts and crafts have always made me happy but I’ve somehow never considered a creative career until I found my true passion in Surface Pattern Design.
Tell us a little bit about your design journey.
During my second maternity leave about 5 years ago, I decided that I didn’t want to go back to being a teacher. I wanted to be my own boss instead and create beautiful things. A few google searches on “creative jobs ” and I stumbled upon Bonnie Christine and her course — I signed up and here I am.
After I had gotten comfortable with using Adobe Illustrator, it took me about a year until I started to see “myself“ showing in my designs. My style is sweet and playful and my kids and nature are my biggest sources of inspiration. I love experimenting with colors and adding new favorite hues to my go-to-palette.
Do you have a favorite portfolio design or client collaboration?
Since I’m only starting out, I’d have to say that my favorite collaboration so far is my first licensing deal with a Korean company. South Korea is my second home and seeing one of my designs coming to life on a heating mat was so exciting. Knowing that a lot of people bought the mat with my design on it and now use it on a daily basis is something I still have to get used to. It’s one of the best feelings ever and that’s what keeps me going.
When you look back at your design journey so far, what are you most proud of?
I am proud of taking my time to figure things out and to reflect. Building a creative business is so much more than just creating and sending out work. It takes time, patience, and discipline to also tackle the things that need to be done in the backend.
I’m not saying that I’m always that patient or disciplined but I’m doing my best. Even if that’s just stepping back from the desk and thinking about what it is that REALLY needs to be done. For example, I am so happy I started organizing my files. When I started out, I hadn’t put any thought into building a system. Lots of files were piling up both in Procreate and on my laptop because I thought I was just practicing and therefore didn’t take my work serious enough yet.
When I finally started to name and organize my files, I saw the benefits immediately — Shannon’s Airtable class has been super helpful btw.
Now, it only takes me a few seconds when I look for a specific file. It was a lot of work and maintaining and improving the system is an ongoing process but it is so worth it in the long run! I wish I knew how to build a system right from the beginning but better late than never, I guess.
If you could offer advice to other designers who are struggling, what would that be?
There’s always so much to do and so little time, right? Some days I feel super productive and get things done. And then there’s bad days where I ask myself at the end of the day “What have I actually done today?” That’s just how it is. At least this is what I keep telling myself because it gives me some relief. It can be tough and exhausting and sometimes I feel lost. But the joy I feel whenever I have a productive day, when I’ve finished a dreadful task or when I read a lovely comment about my work outweighs all the struggle.
Be grateful for what you’ve already achieved and know that you’re capable of doing more amazing things. Don’t forget that everybody struggles. Just keep doing your best and stay true to yourself.
One of my new mantras that might be helpful for anyone who struggles is Marie Forleo’s statement “Everything is figureoutable.” Such a great mindset and so simple, I love it!