After ALT NYC in June I met illustrator and designer Kimberly Hall of Notenne at an ALT after party at the Brinson’s place. I love going to the Brinson’s, they have a wonderful home and they make it a point of inviting creatives over for drinks and a meal, so we can meet each other and find common ways to connect. I met Kim and we hit it off right away. Today she’s agreed to answer a few questions so you can get to know her, and Notenne, a bit better.
I love your illustration style. I’m sure the readers would love to know, how did you get started in illustration?
Thanks! I feel like I’ve had a very roundabout path through the art and design world, as many do. I went to art school at the Museum School in Boston, and afterwards I ended up in Denver, CO with a volunteer position in the Publications department of the Denver Art Museum. Luckily a junior design spot opened up and I had my first design job. About a year later I moved to NYC where I worked for several years as a designer and art director, mostly at the Village Voice, but also on lots of freelance jobs. I learned so much from the team I worked with at the Village Voice, about design and illustration, as well as how important it is to work with a really great team. Since then I’ve gone on to graduate school at Central St Martins where I studied textiles and jobs in fashion and accessory design. Recently I’ve come round to doing illustration work and developing my own printed product. I love working on all different kinds of things so it really suits me to try new things all the time!
How did you turn your passion into a career?
You know, I’ve always had a lot of side projects alongside of my paid work and sometimes they connect and sometimes they don’t. I think the trick of turning a passion into a career is to realize sometimes even your passion is hard work, and your career is made up of all those moments, even the terrible ones with the terrible clients and the mistakes.
The name of your company, Nottene, is interesting. What’s the story behind the name?
I started my very first website around 2000 when I first moved to New York, and I was trying to figure out what the best domain name would be. I wanted something that I could have forever and wouldn’t be too trendy or too particular or too anything! I solicited all kinds of advice from friends and family, and most of them reasonably suggested some form of my name. But instead I went with the Norwegian word for nuts. My mom’s mom family are all from Norway, and honestly I love the sound of the word. It’s pronounced “nuh-TEN-nuh”
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I like things a little bit broken, a little bit off. I love the imperfect and the mismatched.
What inspires your designs?
I really love to collect things, and one of my favorite ways to get drawing is to set up little still lifes and work out compositions that way. Sometimes I think I might have been meant to be a sculptor because having 3-dimensional object to work with is really important to my work. I’m working on some less representational images right now and somehow I still like to have objects to work from.
What do you love to create most, and what’s your best seller?
Well, I’m pretty new to selling my own work, so my sales record is not too long yet! But accessories seem to do pretty well so far. I hope the children’s pieces will pick up because I personally love the idea of having an artwork of special things my daughters used to wear. I think they make great gifts to new moms too!
Can you walk us through a typical work day?
My days are kind of crazy these days! I’m still commuting to New York from our new/old row house in South Philly. During my train ride I do lots of sketching as well as catching up on email or promoting my shop. When I get into NYC I work a full day as an accessory designer, and then grab the train back to Philly, with another hour and a half focused on art. When I get home it’s time for dinner and bedtime ritual with my two daughters. Weekends are reserved for family art making (big inspiration and ideas there!) as well as hanging out with some of my favorite Philly artists and their families!
Where do you turn to when you’re looking for inspiration?
The thrift store or antique markets of Pennsylvania are always good for breaking me out of a rut. If I get stuck in the 2-D world I take myself straight to 3-D work. My work as an accessory and fashion designer are probably tied to this escape for me. It’s always a nice relief to manipulate things directly after working flat for a while.
Who are some of your favorite artists and illustrators?
Just thinking about this makes me realize I have such a wide variety of favorites! I just ordered a sweet print from Jaime Derringer, whose work I discovered online. Martha Rich is one of my Philly favorites, as well as Gina Triplett and Matt Curtius. I have lots of favorite illustrators from my art director days (Rachel Salomon O’Meara, Jonathon Rosen, and Yuko Shimizu) as well as new favorites found through the internet or new friends (Samantha Hahn, Mike Pavol, and Mary Matson)
What’s coming up in the near future for you and Nottene?
Right now I am a nominee for the Martha Stewart American Made awards. There’s some really wonderful companies and artisans on there and I’m so excited to be a part of this year’s nominees! My profile is here: http://www.marthastewart.com/
Thank you for speaking with us Kim! After looking through Kim’s work I’d love to know what’s your favorite? What stands out most to you? Oh yes, don’t forget to vote!