NAME Kathryn Zaremba
LOCATION Washington, D.C.
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND Kansas City Art Institute, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies; Corcoran College of Art + Design, Graduate school in Exhibition Design
COMPANY Kate Zaremba Company
Tell me a little bit about your company & what it was like getting started. I started my company last year but I’ve been working in the arts for a long time. It was a bit intimidating figuring out how to get started. I had a cohesive collection of work and a ton of ideas, it felt great to finally get it out there into the world.
You have such a whimsical mix of patterns in your shop. Artichoke gift wrap? Perfection. Where do you find your inspiration? How has it changed over the years? I actually grew up in show business and I think my life experience and the way I navigate the world plays into the way I think about design. I want my work to have character, a sense of whimsy, even a sense of humor. Even though I am from Oklahoma I grew up in theater and television. So I lived in New York and Los Angeles and had some pretty extraordinary experiences. It helped me to grasp the level of hard work that goes into the creative process so I knew what I was getting into when I decided I wanted to be an artist. And everything has led up to now.
What were you doing before launching Kate Zaremba Company? What made you ultimately decide to branch out on your own? Freelancing can be difficult unless you have representation so after creating some things for other designers I decided I’d just start my shop and print on whatever I wanted. Now I produce wallpaper, gift wrap, art prints, and textiles printed with my illustrations and pattern designs.
Tell me about what is involved in developing a new item. How often do you add new items to the shop? I develop new things all the time. They don’t always make it into the shop right away though. Sometimes a design will come quickly and I’ll sample it on various materials until I know how I want to use it. Other times I go back to a design over a couple of weeks working it out. If I think of an idea and I am out of my studio I write myself a note or scribble a sketch onto a piece a paper so I don’t forget. I add things every month to the shop but it really just depends on what I am working on and if it makes sense to put it in.
Since launching, has there been a particular project, custom or otherwise, that stands out? In April I was asked by Tara Light, designer and shop owner in Kansas City, MO to create a series of illustrations based on Aesop’s Fables. Tara and I met when I was in art school back in 2008, way before either of us knew what we’d be doing. She sort of contacted me out of the blue and I loved the idea PLUS I am always keen to collaborate on projects with other people. Tara’s shop is actually called Fable, carrying only products designed and produced ethically here in the United States. I enjoyed making the drawings so much (30 in total!). I loved getting to delve into those incredible stories to create new work.
How have you approached the marketing for your company? Do you rely on your own marketing know-how or have you chosen to outsource that service? I haven’t broached marketing at all! I started my shop on Etsy, so I get a lot of traffic being apart of such an amazing community of makers. And I really love Instagram! In a way it’s marketing because I post pictures of what I am working on all the time and I definitely don’t have as many friends as I do followers.
In what ways would you like to see your company evolve? I really want to keep doing what I am doing, I actually get to draw everyday. Not many people can say that! Right now I am moving into wholesale which is really exciting and a little scary. I am also working with local artisans and will be launching letterpress cards and screen printed totes in the fall.
Between undergraduate & graduate school, you were Jonathan Adler’s assistant. How did you land the position & what was it like? I interned at JA for month over my winter break during art school. When I graduated there was an opening for the position so interviewed and got the job. Jonathan is fantastic and I learned so much from the experience. I adore everything about JA and continue to be a massive fan of his work.
Has there been a particular moment where you felt most accomplished and validated in your career? Not yet! Plus, feeling validated or accomplished slows you down. I am incredibly driven and constantly working on new things. I think there is probably something more productive you could be doing than being proud of yourself.
What have been the most 1) rewarding and 2) difficult parts about working for yourself? 1) I’ve never been a very good employed person so I certainly feel better about myself! 2) Time management.
Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s? Currently TJ’s because I am obsessed with this $4 sparkling white wine they sell among other things.
Spirit animal? This is difficult because I am obsessed with animals…I suppose an owl.
Sugar or salt? Salt
Song that just never gets old? This will be our year by The Zombies
Item you can’t leave home without? Pen and paper