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Creating Fine Art, Handmade Products with CreativeLive Student Kristen Rieke

by Topher Kelly
featured, student stories

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The student profile series is dedicated to featuring our favorite element of CreativeLive — our community members, who are bravely learning and making real things every day.

Today, we step outside of the world of photography and travel to San Francisco to ask the young and infinitely creative Kristen Rieke about her hand-made product line, Fogline Leather Goods (formerly Scoutmade).

Describe yourself in 140 characters or less:

I am an artist, designer and honeybee enthusiast. I love playing with new materials, taking dips in the ocean, public libraries, and learning about pollinator ecology.

What is your day job?

I currently work as a graphic designer.

  • Kristen's new Scoutmade products
  • Kristen's new Scoutmade products
  • Kristen's new Scoutmade products
  • Kristen's new Scoutmade products
  • Kristen's new Scoutmade products
  • Kristen's new Scoutmade products
  • Kristen's new Scoutmade products

What is your dream job?

I’m not sure quite how to define my dream job, but I hope to somehow combine my experience as an oil painter, Anthropologie display artist, graphic designer, and writer.

I imagine this would involve designing and creating handmade items, working in my studio, and collaborating with my incredibly talented friends and family—with a side gig as a home beekeeper, obviously.

What is your biggest business or professional challenge?

Really, the biggest challenge in my life right now is not having enough time. I have a constant stream of ideas, projects and endeavors I’d like to plan and execute, but there are only so many hours in the day! Balance is key, and with a full-time job, loved ones, and being outside, it can be hard to fit it all in.

What do you do when you need to be inspired?

Exercise and the outdoors are my ultimate source of rejuvenation. Whether that’s a dance class, going for a surf with my boyfriend, or hiking in Marin, the fresh air and rush of endorphins help me stay sane and relaxed.

In terms of design resources, I’ll head to the Alemany Flea Market, browse Design*Sponge for inspiring artists and DIY projects, or research antiquated art methods. Whether it’s Vandyke solar prints, 1800s science illustration, or a how-to video for a leather-stitching awl, researching old-school techniques gives me ideas for new materials and processes.

If all else fails, I open an (imagery-rich) book about ecology. I’m not sure why, but botany, entomology, and pollinator-plant relationships have always filled me with a special kind of excitement. My current read? Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide to Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies.

If you could live in any other decade, what would it be?

If I could live in an era that was pre-digital rendering, it’d probably be easier to find employment doing hand-illustrations of plant and insect species—and that’d be awesome. I’d also like to be friends with Maria Sibylla Merian, a German-born naturalist and scientific illustrator, which would require me to have lived in the late1600s.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? 

Some of Kristen's new products

Kristen’s new Scoutmade products

Right now, I’d have to choose Svalbard, Norway; it has the highest concentration of polar bears in the world. Plus the northern lights. A close second would be Bali—sun, beautiful textiles and leather, and surf, plus my good friend Kenya currently works there designing women’s shoes and apparel.

Favorite cL instructor or workshop — and why? 

Without a doubt, Tara Gentile’s “The Art of Selling What You Make.” Her knowledge about growing a business as an independent artisan—through marketing tactics pricing strategies, and boosting self-worth—is the kind of resource that is invaluable in today’s handmade marketplace.

If you could teach anything on cL, what would it be?

I would love to teach a class on basic leather working. Prior to launching Scoutmade, I learned the skills I needed through conversations with a local leather purveyor, Youtube videos, and lots of experimentation. There are so many tools and materials out there, and leather-working can be very accessible. However, it would have saved me lots of time to have it all laid out in a simple,  well-organized way.

What topic would you like to see covered on cL?

I’d love to see more courses on building an online presence for non-digital artists. Kind of an essentials-only that covers a wide range of topics without delving too far into each: photography, website building, and social media basics, and financial management all rolled into one.

If you attend a cL class with any instructor in the world, who would it be?

One of my go-to resources for inspiration and answers is Kathleen Shannon. Among other things, she works as a blogger and “Life Coach for Creatives.” Just reading her blog is informative and thought provoking, but I’d love to attend a live workshop on creativeLIVE. Plus, she seems like she’d be hilarious.

How can our readers find out more about you?

 

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Topher Kelly

Topher Kelly is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and editor at CreativeLive. Follow Topher on Twitter@Topher_LIVE.