Creative Chain No. 1: Connecting creatives one link at a time


This is our growing chain of bold designers whose work is unique, impactful and fresh. The inspirational “chain” links each person to the next. The chain could go in any direction at any time: From designers and illustrators to photographers and printers and everyone in between, the journey will unfold before our eyes.

We kick off the chain with a duo that we at Felt & Wire admire and respect. John Gurtin and Katie Wilson of Dude and Chick create cheeky, beautifully letterpressed greeting cards that are irresistibly funny. Based in St. Paul, Minn., John and Katie systematically bounce ideas off each other until one sticks and then it ultimately finds its way letterpressed into a card. Some of the illustrations that accompany the messages are quite literal, while others are a wink and a nudge at the topic. All are cheeky and will elicit an instant smile to the lucky recipient one of the cards.

Dude and Chick is inspired by …

“Kelly Abeln is my definition of ‘Illustration by a Lady.’ Her style is strong and no-nonsense, with a tendency toward wonk, and an ability to work in lots of little secrets to her illustrations. She runs head-on into different mediums, mixing textures, digital and painting with her hand-drawn type, but somehow it always comes together perfectly. Her tumblr is a constant source of inspiration—she posts new and old sketchbook work regularly at her website, as well as a slew of images at Cult of Flowers. The combination of female-centric girly things with a heavy dose of modern feminism is a balance that’s tough to come by, but oh-so-perfect when it’s done right. It’s no wonder that she’s currently illustrating for Rookie Mag. Kelly’s aesthetic inspires me to keep the chick side of Dude and Chick looking sharp.”

Kelly Abeln is inspired by …

Andres Guzman has been blowing my mind with his artistic abilities since he sat next to me in an illustration class at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design five years ago. I’ve had the chance to see his work grow and change mediums — from oil painting to digital, and now somewhere in between. Since day one his amazingly intuitive command of a brush, pen and pencil has been an inspiration. For someone like me, whose hand is clunky and clumsy (but charming in it’s own right), I dream of having ideas flow from my brain to paper like Andres. Although our styles are pretty different, I look at Andres’ practice as a great example. His work ethic, nonstop sketchbooking, experimentation and belief that an artist doesn’t have to have to be limited to one style to be successful, is influential.”

Andres Guzman is inspired by …

“Style, character and humor pour effortlessly out of Alice Pattullo’s existence. She is the kind of person that can say two words, one syllable each, and have you gasping for air on your dirty carpet. Everything she creates is the truth! She makes exactly what she means to and nothing less. Her taste is on point and unmatchable. You can tell that her eyes pick up the forgotten corners of culture that she then takes and immortalizes. Before she returned to her home country [U.K.] once, she gave me a refillable brush that she didn’t like. She showed me how she liked to use the brush, which completely changed the way I drew from there on. I liked this new brush so much that I bought like 10 of them afterward. She was definitely instrumental in my artistic expansion.”

Alice Pattullo is inspired by …


Rosie Gainsborough’s work is so different from my own, leaving me feeling both inspired and in awe of her sensitive and considered images and animations. I personally tend to create over-cluttered and overt images, and it is really refreshing to see Rosie’s work and see how she can tell a story through a more modest method of image-making. She is definitely a sympathetic observer and an acute draughtsman and can make something out of nothing — her works that is most inspiring are those that champion the mundanities and ‘boringness’ of everyday life; she will almost always discover something beautiful in the things the rest of us overlook.”

Rosie Gainsborough is inspired by …


Sophia Martineck inspires me because her drawings are both aesthetically and conceptually interesting. She makes images that confidently communicate a message —whether it is the message of a newspaper article or of an imagined story — and that draw you into her world. Her storytelling is fantastic.”

Sophia Martineck is inspired by …

Henning Wagenbreth has always been very inspirational for me. He is a master of creating his own unique and complex world. He never tires of finding new solutions, styles, and ideas, and he possesses great knowledge and skills in all kinds of different media.

Henning Wagenbreth is inspired by …

Sophie Dutertre has inspired me since I first saw her woodcuts. All her images have a stunning simplicity, and a deep and lasting expression. She is a master at creating mystery in her images by adding only a few words. It seems to be more important what she does not say. I share Sophie’s admiration of popular art in general, and prints—especially of the past centuries. I admire her ability to combine her life and her art in a convincing and honest way.

Sophie Dutertre is inspired by …

Placid has been an inspiration for me since my start. His work with Muzo was instrumental in motivating me to make books. He fills his notebooks with wonderful drawings of everyday modern life, with the typical small details. I like the way he catches the atmosphere of a street scene—the light, the clothes, the ugliness and innocence. His drawings are never despising, although the backgrounds are often exaggerated and distorted. Placid loves pictures and loves what he does. He’s always willing to share his thoughts on art. He’s generous and very curious.

Emily Potts is inspired by …

I first met Yann Legendre (Paris, France) in 2010, when he and Lance Rutter were sharing a loft studio in Chicago under the moniker Legendre + Rutter. The place was filled with big, beautiful posters exhibiting Legendre’s fluid, trademark style. I was also fortunate enough to peek inside one of his many sketchbooks lying around the studio and see how he captured his thoughts and observations. He makes it look so effortless, but in reality very few people have this talent. Legendre moved back to Paris with his new wife late in 2011. I was sad to see him go, but I am able to keep up with him and his work through social media.

Yann Legendre is inspired by …

You can classify Martin Venezky of Appetite Engineers (San Francisco) as a graphic designer, but for me, he is a poet. Martin collects every little piece of paper, sticker, typography, shapes, etc., that he finds in his environment to compose his visual poetry. I read his images as I would read a poem from Beckett, Rainer Maria Rilke, Bukowski or Faulkner. They are not just what they are made for, they are what they are made with — and here is the key to understanding Martin’s work: The vernacular elements that compose the pieces are as important individually as the whole composition itself. With Martin’s work, you also understand what you see in the format, and what is around it … on his table, on his studio, on his city, on his country, on his universe, in his mind.

Martin Venezky is inspired by …

I first encountered Ed Fella’s work in issue 17 of Emigre Magazine. That was in 1991, and the simpleton that I was then just didn’t get it. Everything seemed off — mismatched, irregular, tangled and confusing. I couldn’t understand why someone would want to make work like this or why someone would want it made. But I kept returning to those pages. For me, they were magnetic and alive. Eventually, as I learned Ed’s full story — his years as a self-labeled “hack,” his return to school, his intense hand-driven process and the magnitude of his output — I’ve come to love and admire the work and the artist deeply. So important has his work been to me, that I would use my rising appreciation as evidence of advancement in my own visual sophistication.

Today I consider Ed Fella (Los Angeles) the most unburdened and adventurous artist working in the intersection of design, typography and drawing. Ed’s practice is a perfect example of discovery through making, and making as a way of seeing, documenting and living. He plays with the form of language as well as language itself. He plays with materials and bounces among disciplines. His work is simultaneously contemporary and old fashioned, and completely outside of time and its constraints.

More than anything, Ed’s success has given me permission to treat design as an artistic practice, with each work building on its predecessors, and allowed me not to feel obliged to look over my shoulder and copy what others are doing but to forge my own eccentric, rambling path forward.”

Ed Fella is inspired by …


Scott Massey
(Los Angeles, CA) is one of my grad students. In the two years he has been here, he has produced a large and striking body of work—most impressive for me, his series of silkscreen posters. Both formally and technically, they are beautifully done. His ideas are clever and complex. They have a slyly outrageous and saucy attitude that appeals to my own past attempts at design and letterforms with a certain impertinence. So, if my current work is becoming too refined and nostalgic, maybe these posters will inspire me to stay a bit more audacious!

Scott Masey is inspired by …

Paul Share (New York, NY) has inspired me to never quit on my ideas, to take a project as far as it has to go until you know its complete; to infuse projects with personal passion, knowledge, and curiosity; to not be afraid of starting your own projects, even if that means paying for it yourself; to hold true to content and let that dictate direction (his work somehow still always looks great and reads well). Visit OOPS, he updates constantly with inspiring work.

Paul Share is inspired by …

One of the reasons I teach design part-time at the School of Visual Arts is the influence of my students, so I’m choosing a particular former student who will to stand in for the rest of them as my inspiration. Suckzoo Han is currently in New Haven pursuing a masters degree at a relatively well known University there. He is a rare combination of funny, type/graphic design geek, and punk. After waging a personal war with typography at SVA, he somehow graduated in 2009. He promptly got a job in Philadelphia working at Urban Outfitters. He lasted a few months.

I lost track of him for a time until I received an official Notice of Violation from the Public Health and Sanitation Department of Philadelphia, citing a violation involving a sticker — of my design — that had been slapped on a piece of prominent public art. I really wasn’t sure if it was fake or not until I examined it closely. This turned out to be from Suckzoo. It’s a beautiful thing. I love the idea of designing for an audience of one.

Suckzoo Han is inspired by …

When I was a graphic designer for a relatively well-known fashion retailer headquartered in Philadelphia, I was often in a position of promoting something that I had no real engagement with. It’s an inevitable part of design practice, but it creates a detachment between the producer and his object. I think we overcome those kinds of sad realities when we make gifts for people. And I think Jaime Sunwoo’s beautiful handmade gifts are superb examples of this. Jaime studied studio art in LaGuardia Arts High School in New York City, and is now an undergraduate art major at Yale University. I am very lucky to meet people like Jaime — she refuses those fancy commodities for birthday gifts.

Jaime Sunwoo is inspired by …

Also known as Nong, he is the head of the Thai Arts Alliance in New York City. The first project he worked on when he moved to New York was to paint the doors in my brother’s apartment. His work transformed my brother’s house into a sanctuary. When my mother laid eyes on the doors, she quickly commissioned him to paint the doors in her house. Since he painted our doors, Nong has painted many commercial and residential spaces, including the Thai embassy.

Sarasin Chatwichitkoon is inspired by …

Laddawan Zannettis is a talented Thai graphic designer who creates many interesting projects. I have known her for more than 10 years and have witnessed the development of her work. She has not only inspired me, but also many other designers in the field.

New inspirational chain …

Stanley Hainsworth
is incredibly passionate about his work and you can see the gleam in his eyes when he speaks of his clients. His uncanny ability to get to the heart of a brand, and discover the qualities that make it tick, is what sets him apart from the pack. But, before you jump to the conclusion that he is all about big business, he has a softer side for tactile, handmade expressions, as well (see below). He is always gracious with his ideas and shares his wisdom as the spikey-haired Storyteller on RockPaperInk.

Stanley Hainsworth is inspired by …

Marian inspires me because she has reached a place in her career where she follow her passion, and her passion turns into beautifully designed objects that make me swoon.

Marian Bantjes is inspired by …

Matt is a paper artist, these days working mostly in what people would understand most readily as origami, but not in any restrictive or defined way. As such his works are mathematical, intricate, structured, and mesmerizing. He creates fascinating works of wonder that work both visually and dimensionally, even when they are not folded. We have similar interests in pattern and structure, but he does what I can’t do, which makes me generally sick with envy.

Matt Shlian is inspired by …

Cina is a total badass.  His work extends from design into experimental abstract painting, and he does it all so well. It actually kind of angers me that he should have so many talents. I was fortunate to work with him on a recent ghostly project, and he is one of the nicest people I’ve had the privilege to work with.

Michael Cina is inspired by …

Sonnenzimmer (Chicago) is comprised of the duo Nick Butcher and and Nadine Nakanishi. When thinking who do I want to pick (I love so many people in the arts), I ended up going with Sonnenzimmer, because they work in so many mediums and are constantly exploring and pushing themselves in a real and unique way. I feel that this sets them apart.

Sonnenzimmer is inspired by …

Ryan’s hyper-focused approach to screenprinting and the pace of how he learned to print his own work so masterfully is stunning. He studied painting at Northwestern. His painting knowledge really flows into his print work. He bounces so easily between the mediums while running his own shop.

Ryan Kapp is inspired by …

Greta Van Campen (Thomaston, Maine) is a painter who recently embarked on a mission to paint all 50 states between March 2011 and summer 2012. It’s been fun to watch her project evolve from the seed of an idea into a full-fledged adventure with a life of its own. She taps into the traditions of American landscape painting and love of the road, and mixes the subject with a simplified graphic style that not-so-subtly hints at ’80s nostalgia. I have been more focused on printmaking in my own work as of late, and her new body of paintings makes me want to pick up the brushes and get back to the easel to kick up some dust!

Greta Van Campen is inspired by …

Jesse Gillespie is a fellow Maine artist (Camden), whose work reflects an inspiring amount of focus, dedication and attention to detail.  He uses found materials and interacts with them to create sensitive, thought-provoking pieces.

Jesse Gillespie is inspired by …

Simon van der Ven — Siem for short — is a maker. He is a potter, carpenter, furniture maker, cook, teacher, husband and father, among many other things, in Lincolnville, Maine. Siem does not separate these various parts of his life. He made his house, made the dining table that sits inside the house, made the cups, bowls and plates that go on the table, and makes the food that his cups, bowls and plates hold. He gives this food to his family, which he also made. He does it all well. One of his qualifications for a good piece of art is whether or not he would want to live with it in his home.

Simon van der Ven is inspired by …

Hanako Nakazato
First, Hanako’s work sits fully in paradox. While being humble, it is grand. While being simple and direct, it is fully considered and subtle. While being very specific, it is universal. Secondly, there is no separation between who she is and what she makes.

Hanako Nakazato is inspired by …

SOUTH STREET LINEN — Jane Ryan, Mary Ruth Hedstrom, Lynn Krauss
I find inspiration in the work of South Street Linen (Portland, Maine), a team of three women combining their individual strengths and interests to make one unified line of linen creations. They blend artistic notions with craftsmanship in the production of linen products that are inviting for daily use.

South Street Linen is inspired by …

Corey & Co. — Barbara Corey
We find inspiration in the work of Corey & Co. (Portland, Oregon), a clothing shop with beautifully designed and really creative women’s garments. Barbara Corey, a great painter as well as clothing designer, makes patterns and sews wonderfully constructed, somewhat architectural pieces. Her choices of fabric as well as combinations of color and texture make her work unique.

Emily Potts is inspired by …


Not only does she lead the design group of multidisciplinary branding agency Sterling Group, and teach the Masters in Branding course at School of Visual Arts, she hosts a weekly radio show called Design Matters, is the author of five books, and most recently she had a gallery exhibition at the Chicago Design Museum of her illustrated essays, called “Look Both Ways.” Quite frankly, I don’t know how Debbie does it all, but she does with enthusiasm and 100 percent diligence. And she’s one of the nicest people I know.

Debbie Millman is inspired by …


Emily inspires me because she is one of the most beautiful people on the planet. Emily is not just physically beautiful; her heart is gorgeous as well. I first heard of Emily in the late 1980s when she was working for Tibor Kalman at M&Co. Whenever I saw her work I was envious of her talent and ingenuity and assumed that, because she was so accomplished, she was a lot older than me. When I finally met her (about 15 years later) and we became friends, I found out she was actually younger and my admiration increased two-fold. Emily has accomplished more in her career thus far than some people do in a lifetime.

Emily has also been incredibly generous to me throughout our friendship. If it weren’t for Emily, I wouldn’t have been invited to join the board of the New York Chapter of AIGA, which changed my life. Emily inspires me everyday through her incredible talent, her tireless work ethic, her outrageously brilliant family and her ability to continually reinvent her life and career.

Emily Oberman is inspired by …


Scott Stowell has been inspiring me for so long, that I kind of take it for granted. He has been one of my best friends practically since the day he became an intern at M&Co., oh so many years ago. He inspires me with his wit and wisdom and his no bullshit way of thinking and living and working. He is one of the smartest funniest most talented people I have ever known. When we talk – we talk about everything all at once – there is no line between work and play: just the way I like it.

Scott Stowell is inspired by …


I’ve known Barbara for about twenty years—and that whole time, she (in the guise of her studio, Heavy Meta) hasn’t stopped making amazing things, like identity work for Yahoo and information graphics for Good and lots of nice books. You maybe haven’t seen a lot of this stuff, because she’s too busy making more to tell anybody about it. But now I get to do that. I love that everything Barbara makes is fresh and new, and looks exactly like what it is, but not like anything else you’ve seen before.

Barbara Glauber is inspired by …


One of the major benefits of teaching is the opportunity to work with remarkable students. While enrolled in one of my classes at Cooper Union, Rich Watts consistently proved himself to be a determined, smart, and skilled graphic designer but ultimately, someone who was not satisfied by the limitations of the practice. Ever resourceful, Rich joined forces with various former classmates on a range of projects including a subscription t shirt service, a feature film, and a distillery, churning out everything from fake cigarette packages to e-commerce sites to bottles of vodka, writing code and building camera dollies, and accumulating equipment such as a milling machine and a letterpress. Given this enviously massive set of skills, Rich remains generous, calm, and unassuming as he continues tackling even more ways to make things.

Rich Watts is inspired by …

It’s safe to assume that every one of us has one person of whom they can think: “Where would I be and what the hell would I be doing if we hadn’t crossed paths?” Mike Essl has been my professor, studio mate, mentor, client, friend … and continuously an inspiration. His work is equal parts fanatical, irreverent, clever, elegant and lightning bolts. His broad interpretation of the role of design and the latitude it affords those who practice it is the kind of thing you can’t unlearn. Mike is an incredibly versatile designer, but these are my favorite aspects of his practice.

Mike Essl is inspired by …

When I was a kid I remember going through my father’s record collection and freaking out over the cover of Kiss’ Rock and Roll Over. This moment is significant for two reasons: (1) Kiss made me the metalhead I am today, and (2) Michael Doret’s artwork inspired me to become a graphic designer.

Michael Doret is inspired by …LAURA SMITH
Most people would imagine that my inspiration would be drawn from other lettering and typographic artists — true, but those who had the most influence on me in that arena are long gone. But I’m inspired by other living artists in different ways. The person who has had more influence on my work than most others is illustrator Laura Smith. She has impressed me with how many times she has reinvented her work — always trying to explore new ways of communicating her visions, always looking for a fresh angle or a new color palette. Being exposed to her work has challenged me to look for new ways to express my own typographic visions.

Laura Smith is inspired by …LAURIE ROSENWALD
Over the years my heroes have grown in number. Most of them are people who harken back to simpler times and who are no longer with us. But there is one person whose work I never tire of looking at. Laurie Rosenwald manages to conjure up childlike images that never feel self-conscious or tricky. There is a controlled spontaneity in her work — almost like she tipped over a bottle of ink and, voilà … art!

Laurie Rosenwald is inspired by …

Lene inspires me because her work is so fresh and easily expressed. At least it looks easy, but we know better. She draws without fuss, using a black marker, and adds color with discretion. Her work is in the Scandinavian tradition of Stig Lindberg, Bjørn Wiinblad Lennart Hellsing and Olle Eksell. It’s minimal but never in a snobby or academic way. Just clean and bright.

She has humor and wit, and her drawing chops are without equal. I am looking forward to her new children’s books, coming out in the fall of 2012.  She should be much more famous, I think, but she is a low-key person.

Lene Due Jensen is inspired by …

I chose illustrator Lisbeth Svärling because of her spontaneous illustrations and for the way she always finds her own take on subjects. I love her great sense of humor and how she can draw so much with so little.

Lisbeth Svärling is inspired by …

Cecilia has worked as a graphic designer, bookbinder and illustrator, and creates beautiful objects by combining design and intricate paper craft. I think her work is fantastic, and she inspires me because of her courage, persistence and development.

Cecelia Levy is inspired by …

Mattias Adolfsson is a freelance illustrator living in Sigtuna just outside of Stockholm, Sweden. He has worked with everything from computer games via children’s books to commissions for international newspapers. He released his first personal book last year, The first in line, from the sketchbooks of Mattias Adolfsson, published by Sanatorium. Mattias is a complex man. Terribly funny and highly intelligent. He’s like a giant sponge; sucking up impressions from the outside world, filtering them through his intricate mind and then pouring out his very own interpretation of the world and everything in it — from flying pigs to how to make the perfect sauerkraut. I never tire of his drawings. And that’s not just because I’m married to the man

Mattias Adolfsson is inspired by …

Lapin must be one of the most prolific sketchers in the world, he draws constantly filling his sketchbooks — he prefers drawing in old accounting books — with cityscapes, people, cars and the odd dinosaur. Lapin has a wonderful organic feel to his sketches not hesitating adding an extra spear to a cathedral if he think it needs it or bending a tower in order to fit into his worldview.

Lapin is inspired by …

Sagar is a comic artist and an art teacher, dedicating more and more time to sketch. We met in Barcelona during a sketchcrawl and since then became good friends. I’m lucky to watch him working during these last years, and enjoy his amazing capacity to paint his surroundings and capture the lightning of a scene. I wish I could manage to capture light with this economy of medium and time.

Sagar Fornies is inspired by …


There are many artists who can serve as inspiration, but if you know the person and they are nearby, the experience is much better. Toni is a friend who lives in Barcelona but is of Serbian origin. He spends his time doing comics and animation, realizing backgrounds and artistic concepts. He is very skilled at drawing,  but he rightly gets carried away by intuition, and he becomes a great colorist and an artist with depth, who never disregards the basic concepts of the drawing.

Toni Feijzula is inspired by …

Miki Montlló

Miki’s a character and background designer for animation and video games (recently converted into a comics drawer, too) whose work inspires me because of its freshness and power. His perfect combination of the new digital processes with traditional drawing and painting makes him unique. He’s young and he’s already a great artist, but it’s absolutely clear he’ll be even better in the years to come.

Miki Montlló is inspired by …

Oriol Hernandez

I like Oriol’s stuff because you can see in his drawings that the guy is completely crazy and has an original and unique perspective. He does what others wouldn’t dare. And more important, he doesn’t care what you think of him!

Oriol Hernandez is inspired by …

Fatima‘s work has feeling that translates to viewers. She is a great artist, and her colors and lines are really strong and expressive. Her drawings are not typical, and she shows that she loves what she does.

Fatima Pantoja is inspired by …

Estefania is my sister. Her work is the perfect mixture between traditional and digital techniques. [In her work] I can always find something new that “feeds” my brain and makes me try to make something at the same level.

Estefania  Pantoja is inspired by …

Apart from being a great digital artist, Nacho Molina is also a professional artist in every respect. In my view, I consider him a professional in whom talent and vocation meet. Nacho is currently working as a freelance illustrator for companies such as Blizzard, Cryptozoic, Fantasy Flight Games and so on. Generally speaking, not only am I inspired by his paintings but also by the way he works. He has a passion for everything he creates.

Nacho Molina is inspired by …

I first met Paco Rico at the University when we were just teenagers. We became close friends, and eventually colleagues, as we spent more than five years working side by side and learning from each other the basics of the art. What most impresses me is his capacity of paying attention to the details and his gift to bring to life every single character he comes up with. He has a brilliant technique which allows him to work for different Role Playing Game companies and become a regular artist for the Q&A section of British illustration magazine, ImagineFX.

Farncisco Rico Torres is inspired by …

Lucas has the uncanny ability of making everything look beautiful in his paintings. And by beautiful I mean grotesque and bizarre. That’s why he is so awesome. He paints posters and album covers, and does illustrations for card games and books, but he is slowly expanding horizons. Right now he is a rising star, but I’m sure that is going to become a supernova sooner than he thinks.

Lucas Soriano is inspired by ….

I really like how Carlos creates that special atmosphere, grim and dark but colorful at the same time. He’s got a swift and bold style, it has some sort of old-school feeling to it.

Carlos Cara is inspired by ….

I really don’t know Peter in person, but his work has influenced me since I decided to pursue a professional career in illustration four years ago. Although he is really young, he is already a master and has an impressive portfolio, with clients such as Wizards of the Coast, White Wolf, AEG, Upper Deck, Simon & Schuster. He is also one of the very few illustrators kind enough to share his techniques via tutorials.

Peter Morbacher is inspired by ….

Allen is living the dream of every creative person. He’s a guy who knows exactly who he is and what he likes, so looking at his work feels like looking straight into his brain. It’s like pure, unfiltered inspiration. Seeing him craft his ideas, dreams and idle thoughts into something physical gives me hope that it’s possible to do this myself. The way he’s been able to carry that sensibility into more guided projects like Magic: The Gathering and the covers he’s done for Tor give me hope that there is a market for creativity like this.

Allen Williams is inspired by ….

I find Joao’s work is both sensitive and haunting. It is a combination of realistic and surrealistic imagery that blends boldly but gently.

Joao Ruas is inspired by ….

Francis Pavy’s paintings explode with color and exquisite details, but his depictions are also soothing. The elements look disparate, but his arrangement comes across as purposeful, almost comfortable in an unlikely setting. His work embodies the Creole, southern liveliness I associate with the region. Every time I look at one of his pieces, I discover something new, a detail that I missed. This is what I love about his work.

Francis Pavy is inspired by …

Shawne’s work work is exciting to me. On a larger scale, the pieces read as abstractions or color fields. But on closer inspection they reveal a surprising narrative from all the various objects woven together to make a whole. They make me want to go back to my studio and work.

Shawne Major is inspired by …

Her work inspires me with its stream-of-conscious flow/feel of appropriated pop culture images and stereotypes, lyrical abstractions, and exquisite mark-making.

Jiha Moon is inspired by ….

The images Sang-Ah Choi creates at first come across as beautiful, sophisticated and polished, but upon closer inspection you get to see the grotesque nature. They are partially a portrait of America, consumer culture and its side effects. Sang-Ah’s work reminds us to look at things inside out.

Sang-Ah Chio is inspired by ….

There is a kind of interesting paradoxical configuration of familiar and unfamiliar notions in Heidi’s work.  The way she uses material is very subtle—almost like hide and seek.  And twisted humor in her works makes me wonder if it is really funny or depressing.

Heidi Schwegler is inspired by ….

Michelle inspires me because the unexpected physicality of her paintings lends itself to a richness in our current condition of slickness.

Michelle Ross is inspired by ….

Heather’s work has the perfect balance between risk and restraint. I love that as a book/graphic designer and artist, Heather has the capacity to combine systematic thinking with intuitive abandon. Her work appears effortless and spontaneous, yet she works with carefully defined parameters and an impressive command of materials like ink that often defy control.

Heather Watkins is inspired by ….

Marie’s commitment to a deep and expansive exploration of one specific object—the blanket—has led to an enormous body of work ranging from small-scale bronze sculpture to large-scale public art. Between those shifts in scale, she creates a sustained meditation on universal human stories, enabled by the rich metaphors of the blanket, and the evident work of the hand—and in many cases, many hands.

Marie Watt is inspired by ….

I am inspired by the subtle biographical narratives in Victoria’s material, spacial, conceptual objects that hover between painting and sculpture.

Victoria Haven is inspired by ….


Dawn approaches ideas of failure and vulnerability with the agility of an Olympic athlete and the irreverent humor of a stand-up comedian.

Dawn Cerny is inspired by ….

Carmelle has an uncanny knack for making images that seem to burrow guilelessly into the shadier parts of my mind the more I am with them. Safdie is a master at a kind of attitudinal sleight-of-hand that inverts the ways I perceive and think about mass-produced patterns and graphic motifs from the last 60 years. Her work consistently points to the history of painting and invents games and strategies to undo the way we see and comprehend what we know as painting. It is cool. It is not cool. It is cool. It is not cool.

Carmelle Safdie is inspired by ….
In his drawings, photographs and collages, Burnam is able to achieve a kind of narrative density and open-endedness that only seems possible in short-form writing. Indeed Burnam’s work is literary, and its pacing—consideration of space, acoustics and his seeming desire to undo—is situated alongside the various authors—Flannery O’Connor, Ray Bradbury, Nathaniel Hawthorne—that I think about when I work.

Felix Sockwell
I love Felix for his quick wit and how that translates into his work. The fluidity of the line work in his illustrations is incredible. I wonder if he plans this for days or if he just starts drawing and his brain and hand work simultaneously on the fly. Part of his appeal is the simplicity of his drawings and how effortless he makes it look.

Felix Sockwell is inspired by ….

Eric Kass
Eric’s love of letterpress is apparent in all his projects, and anyone who appreciates printing and paper this much is top-notch in my book. I have this urge to reach through the computer screen and touch everything he designs.

Eric Kass is inspired by ….

Mary Francis Foster
Mary’s inspirational work features a whimsical sophistication and incisive intellect intertwined with heartfelt emotion. Her sensitivity to the rhythmic use of sentimental found items, thoughtful typography, and original illustration create beautifully lyrical layouts. Process and passion permeates her colorful decisions, whether it be in photography, writing, illustration, design or collecting.

Mary Francis Foster is inspired by ….

Aprile Elcich
One of the first blogs I regularly read was NotPaper, a blog that Aprile dedicated to showcasing collage artists—their work, their thoughts, their processes. It sort of blew me away—the contrast of the things artists across the world were creating from mostly the same materials.  It encouraged me to candidly create with things I’d acquired. Eventually, I contacted Aprile, and I’m happy to now call her a friend. I truly admire her collage work and her ability to successfully sustain that in her design work. Namely, I’m inspired by her curiosity and her courage.

Aprile Elcich is inspired by ….

Danielle Kroll
I am always drawn to artists unafraid of bright colors (as I am a coward and usually stick to pastels!), and Danielle’s work is endlessly colorful and inviting. Her illustrations are friendly and carefree in nature, but also intricately detailed. I would love to see things the way she does, in a completely magical light.

Danielle Kroll is inspired by ….

Andy J. Miller
Andy not only stretches his imagination in his work, but he inspires me to do the same. I can’t get enough of his spunky little characters and playful narratives. Andy also keeps a great blog that not only archives his latest work, but describes what he has learned from the project. In addition to these posts, he candidly shares tips and advice with his readers on countless creative topics. Andy’s fantastic illustrations are sprinkled throughout his blog, making it both a visually and mentally inspiring place to visit.

Andy J. Miller is inspired by ….

First and foremost, Rilla inspires me because the level of quality she brings to all of her work is incredibly high. Mostly though I am inspired by how her work appears to already be classic, which seems like an almost impossible feat to achieve while you are still in the prime of your career!

Rilla Alexander is inspired by ….

Chris is a master of seemingly effortless simplicity. His picture books demand to be read over and over, and his illustrations are vibrant, energetic and packed with emotion. I am not just inspired by what he does and how he does it, but who he does it for and why.

Chris Haughton is inspired by …BEATRICE ALEMAGNA
I first came across Beatrice’s books in a bookshop in Bologna during the Children’s Book fair. The bookstores in France and Italy are very inspiring to me. There are so many beautiful books and artwork not be published in the UK or Ireland. Beatrice’s books were the most inspiring of all of them. Her drawings are some of the most expressive I have seen, and her books are beautiful objects with very personal themes and stories.

Beatrice Alemagna is inspired by …

I worked alongside Grant at Studioaka in London. While there, I was very inspired by lots of the animation going on around me but particularly Grant’s inventive approach. Every few weeks those in the studio would compete to pitch on a new job, and Grant usually produced simple work so unexpected and clever that everyone else at the studio cursed themselves for spending so long working over the weekend on their own pitches. With Grant’s work, it’s the way it is told rather than the story itself that makes it so charming and effective.

Grant Orchard is inspired by …

Chris inspires me because he’s a brilliant, shiny creative egg. There’s a certain chutzpah to Chris and his work that I find really invigorating. He’s restless and impatient, and as a consequence you won’t find him staying in the same style for long. Yet what runs through all his work is that it’s considered, engaging and beautiful. Whether in graphic design, photography or animation, his big, impeccable eye shines through.

Christopher Gray is inspired by …

In the time I’ve known Till, he has constantly challenged what I would expect of a designer. His works crosses tastefully between conceptual graphic design and art. This is especially apparent in his latest project—creating furniture that questions its intended purpose. It’s his outlook on the balance between commissioned and self-initiated projects that is a real inspiration.

Till Wiedeck is inspired by …

Besides sharing a bedroom, Nadine and I share a lot of thoughts and interests on every level. Her unique way of working balances on the border of artistic practice and design. It is thoughtful, on point, and enriched with a lot of intellectual references, yet very much focused on the process and the exploration of eventualities. I appreciate every thought we share.

Nadine is inspired by …

I got to know Elisabeth when we were studying together at the Gerrit Rietveld Acadamie in Amsterdam. We worked on a lot of the same assignments, so we spent time sharing thoughts and ideas, which was very enriching to me. Her wide knowledge of traditional textile techniques, combined with her approach and the way she translates her abstract ideas into design, is very inspiring. Her work questions the traditional role of the designer, as well as critically reflecting on her own position within the field of design and its history.

Elisabeth is inspired by …

French graphic designer Victor Brangoleau is an inspiring person, and character. He describes himself as 50% Graphic Designer, 20% problem solver, and the left-over 30% is dedicated to experiment and improvisation. This is exactly how I would frame his work. Visual, invested, sincere and with the right amount of humor.

Victor Brangoleau is inspired by ….

Romain’s projects often start with intriguing revelations or ideas, whether he came up with them sporadically, or his curiosity grappled with them. His main concern seems to be in what design means—for the client, the audience and himself. I am always surprised by his fresh approach to subjects and his way of turning problems around.

Romain Andre is inspired by ….

Jessica is an inspiring designer navigating the thin conceptual stream between science, poetry and esotericism in the name of speculative design. She explores the insides and outsides, the whys and hows, creating scenarios for our future behaviors.

Jessica Charlesworth is inspired by ….

I met this super duo, Bernadette Deddens and Tetsuo Mukai, when I was studying in London at the Royal College of Art in 2005. I have always found their speculative approach in combining their backgrounds in fashion, art and product design to be original, subtle and modest. Their work combines intellectual rigor and research into intriguing subject matter with a beautiful sensitivity to material, color, pattern and form. Together, they are a powerhouse that truly inspires me. Their ambitious way of working is especially apparent in their other initiative, known as Workshop For Potential Design. This year we finally got to spend some together when they asked my husband and me to contribute to their recent curated exhibition, Image For A Title: Placebo Effects in the Cultural Landscape, during the London Design Festival.  It was then that we were able to learn more about their thoughtful approach to curating and their respect for research within design.

Study O Portable is inspired by ….

John is funny, smart, sassy, and is always ready to take on a new project. I really appreciate his thoughts about design, posters in particular, as he is Rockport’s official poster aficionado (he has written two books on poster design and does a weekly column for RockPaperInk). His own style is very eclectic and colorful, and always has a handmade aesthetic, especially for his music clients. You can see his hands in his work, and oftentimes he’s starting a project with nothing—well, nothing and a deadline. I love John’s enthusiasm and passion for design and music, and the fact that he and I share a common guilty pleasure—listening to Howard Stern.

John Foster is inspired by ….

I have gotten to a point in my career where I finally feel pretty good about the challenging quality of work I am doing, and then I look over at what Zach has been up to and I see that he has made 20 incredible pieces of art overnight, and I ponder hanging it all up for a second before putting my head down and pushing myself even harder. Watching him stretch out as a gig-poster designer years back, I was always amazed by his work and his ability to somehow elevate his design with each piece. Then he suddenly started exploring collage and mixed-media art, making art out of everything from rocks in the street to old envelopes and postcards and cheesy advertisements—the more pedestrian the starting point, the more mind-blowing his final piece would become. Soon they started coming faster and faster until it seemed like not only was he amassing an insane body of work, but he was literally advancing as a creative every 24 hours. He has yet to let up. He makes me somehow feel lazy (hard to do) and has left my jaw permanently glued to the floor.

Zach Hobbs is inspired by ….

Anything Brian touches—music, art, design—turns into something that I quite love. His work evokes eras past, but also calls for a modern techno-psychedelic third eye opening.

All line art portraits created by Fred Schaub.

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