It's official. Good weather is beginning to gain a foothold in April, leaving us to finally be able to enjoy some of our adored sun. Right now, we're seeing glimpses of summer – the days become longer, the sun warms us at noon...It's wonderful! How about some good vibes to reflect this good weather? This month, I selected a pattern for our Pattern of the Month that inspires peace, warmth and relaxation. We are craving summer. And we found it. This pattern by Caley Ostrander is inspired by a warm summer morning in the Caribbean. The designer, other than being known for her calm demeanor and good humor, is known also as an artist. Graphic design, photography, illustration, fashion...Let's just call it like it is, she is an all-around polymath. Born and raised in Maine, Caley grew up with art as part of her childhood, as her mother is also an artist. Interested in design, she decided to move to New York where she now works at Birchbox. In addition, she has also collaborated with brands like Chanel, The Row, Ralph Lauren, Rolex, Mini Cooper, Birchbox, ALDO, and Dove, among others. Wow! We can say that she has done very well for herself, knowing a little of everything in order to reach more brands and more people. We won't leave you waiting any longer to read more, so without further ado, below is our interview with the designer.
By: Laura Campillo
First of all, let’s talk about your pattern. What is the idea you want to convey through this?
I wanted this pattern to be fun and playful. It brings to mind bright, fresh new beginnings, and the summertime – and all the relaxation and excitement that comes with it.
You started drawing and painting your surroundings, how did this idea come to your mind?
Last winter, I was at a particularly stressful time in my life where I was working incredibly long hours at work, I was exhausted by my job, and felt like I needed to take a break and re-connect with myself. So, I decided to book a vacation to the Carribbean with the intention of completely unplugging from current chaotic life and resetting. For me that meant returning to painting and creating something tactile, which I hadn’t done in a very long time. I woke up every morning and drank coffee as I painted on the balcony overlooking palm trees. These mornings were a very meditative and peaceful experience for me, and I ended up doing a lot of soul searching. When I returned back home to New York City, this painting I had done of one of the trees really stuck out to me, so I decided to take it and keep working with it and created this pattern. This return to my roots and reset I went through on the trip helped me decide to make a big lifestyle change as well. I switched jobs to one that was less stressful and more creatively inspiring, which has made a big difference in my life. As a result, I have more time and energy to create and pursue all of my other passions on the side. I think this pattern ended up reflecting the excitement and refreshing feeling of that big life change.
You're now focused on creating digital experiences but you still incorporate some hand paintings and illustrations. Where does this desire come from?
Growing up, I always did art. My mother is a painter, and always had many hobbies – jewelry making, pottery, sewing – you name it, which I naturally also became involved in. She also owned an art store which allowed me to get my hands on lots of different supplies and mediums that I otherwise might not have tried. I discovered graphic design much later, almost by accident, when one of my mother’s friends who’s a graphic designer said that I’d be good at it. So while I began to move in a more digital direction, it still felt natural to me to work in a tactile way and incorporate that in where I could. Hand paintings and illustrations are my roots, even if I work mostly in the digital realm now.
You have worked with some of today’s most recognized brands such as Chanel, Rolex, Mini Cooper, and Ralph Lauren. What did these experiences bring to you?
Working with these brands has taught me how to be a better listener and collaborator. Talking directly with clients and trying to understand what they’re looking for is a really fun process. It’s great to be able to listen to a problem or idea a client has and be able to offer a solution through design. I feel really blessed to have gotten the opportunity to work with such great brands and the people behind them.
Which is your main goal as a illustrator & designer? Any dream job?
I’d love to eventually open my own design studio or start my own brand! I’m not sure when I’ll eventually take that leap, I feel like I’m not 100% ready for it at the moment. For now I’m just following the path I’m on and enjoying the journey.
You now work as product designer at Birchbox NYC, it gives you some freedom to express yourself, right?
Yes! It is SUCH a fun company to work for. They are fantastic. The environment is really collaborative, and challenging in a great way. They are always looking to produce the best design and move the needle forward for the brand. My coworkers are great as well, we all encourage each other to produce great things and aim high.
In one of your Fortune Findings (Part of a design series) you say "Don’t scrap everything. See what you can salvage." Tell us what you you salvage.
This is funny that you ask about this one in particular! This one fortune cookie message has been taped to my computer ever since I found it several years ago, and has followed me from job to job. It reminds me to not be too destructive and critical about my own work. When I get frustrated with a design, I often have the urge to trash it completely and start over…I think many designers sometimes feel this way. But I’ve learned through time that the best result happens right after you get that desire to “scrap everything”, but you’re able to stick with it and push it further. I’ve "salvaged" a lot of work by trying to push through and keep this mentality top of mind.
You enjoy exploring new cities and it inspires you. What is the next destination planned?
I’d love to go West and see the dense forests out there in California and Washington. I grew up in Maine with lots of forests and open space, but I never fully appreciated nature until I moved to New York City. This city is such a crazy, busy, awesome place to be. But I think my next destination will be somewhere with more nature. It’s refreshing and awe-inspiring to be surrounded by such beauty.
If you had to give an advice for future graphic designers, what would it be?
I would tell other designers to pursue and embrace all of their passions, irregardless of whether or not it’s directly related to graphic design. I’ve always believed in being a “Jack of all trades”, which is not always encouraged in the design community where hyper-specialization is so often rewarded. I think all passions and interests end up informing your design life, whether you know it or not. It’s important to pursue the things you’re interested in, it makes you a more well-rounded designer.