Elizabeth Olwen has been working as an independent surface designer for years and has grown a thriving business, with her work being featured in Cloud9 Fabrics and Land of Nod. Much of her success is rooted in a philosophy that high quality work comes from community, collaboration, and inspiration. In an effort to grow her client base and stay constantly inspired, Olwen organized an event titled Field Trip to bring together top surface and pattern designers from across the world. At the NYC event, the nine artists met with clients, shared ideas, exhibited their work, discussed collaborations, and most importantly, connected over shared experiences.
It was clear when we spoke with the group that the most important outcome of the event was been the connections made between exhibitors. More impactful than the new clients, and we all know how valuable new clients are, were the important moments of connection. Working as a freelancer can be an isolating and challenging life and Olwen is actively combating those forces with her art show.
Photography provided by Malcolm Brown
Rent the New York City gallery where the Field Trip art show took place
We chatted with some of the artists at the event to learn about their craft, where they find inspiration, and what their newfound community means to them.
Tell me about the moment you realized you wanted to do this type of work? What drew you to it initially?
Elizabeth Olwen: I just think that patterns make the world a prettier place. In the day to day life, it’s something that makes life really beautiful. I think it matters because there’s a lot of ugliness in the world and it’s a beautiful contrast to have these things that make your day to day life a little bit nicer.
Morgan Georgie: I like designing things that land in people’s homes or get sent through the mail. They’re wall coverings or rugs and end up in their lives and makes them happy. That’s what inspires both my business partner, Carrie, and I to design the things we do. We want to create something that goes into other people’s lives and changes their world a little bit.
What are you here to accomplish today? What is the goal for the field trip?
Elizabeth Olwen: With Field Trip, we really wanted to create a light and lively event for our clients. Somewhere that they can come and have a drink and chit chat and catch up, but also discuss new opportunities for all of our work.
Kimberly Ellen Hall: I feel like we’ve all really worked together and shared our knowledge and shared our work with each other and I’d love for clients to go away feeling not like, “Oh, I met that new designer or new illustrator who’s so great,” but like, “Wow, that group of people’s so interesting and I love what they do.
Kate Zaremba: Being in a space like this which is full of sunlight just feels more like a casual, relaxed space. It changes how people look at the work, and also how we’re able to interact with the people coming into this space. A trade show environment is just a little bit … You never know what time of day it is, and that just isn’t right. I think that’s really the main inspiration for a Field Trip show.
Photography provided by Malcolm Brown
How has the Field Trip community impacted your life as an artist?
Kate Zaremba: A lot of us work by ourselves. It takes time to build a business from your art and actually coming together and putting on this show has made a difference in my life. I’m busy and this has made me even busier, but it’s been really fun to share in all the stresses and all the exciting moments with a group of women who kind of have my same life. It can be the most rewarding thing to be able to share in those stresses, it validates what I’m doing. Like, “Oh you’re going through that too? Isn’t that the worst?” Then the other aspect of, “Isn’t that the best? Yeah, it’s pretty cool!” It makes me feel more connected to things.