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Maker Spotlight: Trusting Experiences Can Benefit You As an Artist

by Samantha Ramirez |

While choosing to become a small maker comes with a lot of creative and executive freedoms— sometimes too much freedom can leave one feeling aimless or bewildered. Freelance graphic designer Kristiana Federe has created designs for a variety of small brands and boutiques as well as designing unique products in her own Etsy Shop. However Kristiana spoke with us about how her career path as a freelance graphic designer was not always so clear, and how she overcame this uncertainty.  Kristiana’s art features sublime botanical figures and details. In her own words, “each line is drawn with heart and intention in mind”.  Read more below about how Kristiana’s art has been inspired by her surrounding environments and communities:

How does being a maker, artist or business owner inspire you? 

I used to be the biggest people pleaser and it is still something I am working on. I remember graduating from college two years ago and immediately getting a job as a barista while working on art commissions during my lunch breaks and days off. I felt a lot of pressure for not working a traditional 9-5 job straight out of college. When people would ask me what I was up to I would find myself trying to “justify” my barista gig and freelance career. Thankfully though, I have a handful of friends who were my support system when I was doubting my decision in pursuing art. I’ve grown a deeper appreciation for small business owners and fellow makers and artists since experiencing first hand what goes on behind the scenes. There’s so much that people don’t see right away when they hold a handmade product, but I think it’s always worth finding out about the process and stories of the people behind the products.

What is your background (culturally or professionally) and has this been a heavy influence on your work?

Some of my earliest memories include road trips with my family. Back when TVs strapped to car headrests and portable DVD players were becoming a hit, my dad would always assure me and my 3 older siblings that looking out the window on long drives was something not worth missing out on. I appreciate that more now that I am older, especially in an age where we’ve resorted to smart devices as a means of communication and entertainment. The world has changed so much since I was a kid, but my love for nature and beautiful landscapes is still something that remains. Whenever I reach a lull in my creativity, I recharge by spending time with loved ones and heading out to my favorite nature spots. That’s where I find my inspiration.

Are there communities that have been instrumental in the development of your work?

Yes, I have had many communities come and go that have been instrumental in helping me develop my work. While I was in college, I created graphics for my Christian outreach group, my student government, and school newspaper. This work really helped to get me started in my path professionally. I learned how to be proactive about making connections, how to work with a diverse group of clients, and keeping deadlines— all things that would later benefit me. While my community is constantly changing, everyone I have come across has helped me to become the artist I am today.

What mediums do you use most? Is there a significant technique you use and is there a history behind your technique?

Ink and digital are my preferred mediums. Typically I will illustrate my botanicals with a Stabilo Point 88 pen, then scan and digitize it with Adobe Illustrator. Typography or any additional elements are also added in Illustrator. This has become my routine method, it has just always worked for me!

Do you incorporate ethics of production or sustainability within your work and business? Are there choices you have to make that are affected by these topics?

I try to create in smaller batches, often using minimal ink, and am working towards choosing more sustainable and environmentally friendly materials. While my products are not currently all environmentally friendly, this is something that convicts me and that I strive for my future product lines. 

To create is to connect, what is the impact that you hope to make with your work? 

My main hope, with my art, is truly to connect with others. It means so much to me when I meet someone who resonates with one of my pieces. I think of my art as an extension of me, it is often created from a place of healing, it’s how I process the world around me and communicate when I can’t find the words or actions to do so. Through my art, I feel seen and understood.

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Have one of Kristiana’s many botanical designs by buying one of her stickers that you can find in store at Ardent.