Now that our kids are getting older, when I think of their bedrooms, my initial reaction is to cringe at the mess. But I maintain fond memories of when they were younger, and decorating their walls with bright and whimsical art had replaced clothes shopping as a guilty pleasure.
How I wish that Natalie Wargin‘s prints had been around then. They are so clever — great takes on the ABC’s, mixed with charming animal illustrations — showcasing her graphic design background. Natalie took some time recently to answer a few questions about her business and her art.
Could you tell me a bit about your background? Your history in graphic design merges so beautifully into your work. How does one aspect blend into the other?
I studied graphic design at the University of Illinois and I’ve been involved with it ever since. I had a design firm for several years and after I gave that up I did a number of things including photography, quilting, wedding cakes, and paper mache. Then a couple of years ago I went back to graphic design and started a small line of greeting cards. That’s primarily what I do now although I do have an Etsy shop which I opened in order to give people who went to my greeting card site an opportunity to shop on line. Recently I’ve added children’s posters to my Etsy shop. It was a big change for me when I started designing the greeting cards because I began to do all of my illustration on the computer. I had previously been doing graphics and layout on computer of course, but not illustration. I have definitely embraced Adobe Illustrator. No matter how I work I think my design background is reflected in everything I do.
You mention in your Etsy profile that you were asked to design something for a little girl’s room and that led into your nursery posters. How do you get your ideas and inspiration for your posters now?
I was very surprised when I was asked to do something for a little girl’s room because I had never done any children’s wall decor before. I thought it was odd that the company that approached me about the posters saw my art as something that would work in that application. But after we talked for a while I started to see what they saw and now I find myself looking at all my art differently. Now my ideas for the posters come from slanting my point of view when I look at what I’ve already done. Because of all my greeting cards I have a lot of art to reconsider. But I also like to create new images and I sort of step back and think about my design roots, when I was in school and we were at the tail end of Swiss design. I like clean, simple, strong images and I think they work well for children’s things.
How long have you lived in the Hudson Valley? How does living here affect your creative life and work?
My husband, Maggie, our pup, and I moved to Cottekill three years ago after living all of our lives in Chicago. Since nature is the predominate feature in my drawings this area has influenced me tremendously. I photograph interesting things that I see or sometimes I bring a flower or a weed back to my studio. I love all the birds which I get a good look at because of the woods behind our house. The first spring we were here I saw a bear cub near our stream and last year we watched a large bear walk right across our front yard. You can see all of these things in my art.
Can you walk us through a typical work day?
Most mornings I go for a run which has been a major source of ideas for me. I’m out early and it’s quiet and I see all sorts of things so I consider it a working run. I’m typically at my computer by 8 and I work until 11 when I take Maggie for a walk. We have lunch and I get back to work until it’s time to start thinking about dinner. I try to be organized about my working hours and I make a schedule for the week which I try to stick too although it’s not cast in stone. I spend time working on new art, doing paper work, completing greeting card or Etsy orders, trying to figure out how to promote my business.
The children’s posters are the new addition to my Etsy shop and I’ll be introducing them at the National Stationery Show in May. Since they’re new I guess I like them the best right now and of those I like the ABCs Tree, the group of four animal posters in bright colors, and the Bird on a Ring Birth Announcement.
How do you spend your free time?
I love to hike with Russ and Maggie, especially when we discover a new place. I read probably too much fiction, I like movies, and I love trying new restaurants with friends. My guilty pleasure is watching The Gilmore Girls.