In this week’s designer interview, we travel across the country to the beautiful rolling hills of the Pacific Northwest to speak with Annelie Hervi, otherwise known as mrshervi in the Spoonflower Marketplace. Originally from Sweden, Annelie now lives in the southwestern part of Washington state with her husband, Curtis, and their 7 children. With a background in architectural drafting, Annelie says she discovered Spoonflower 10 years ago. “I found a fantastic hobby for me as a stay-at-home mom of 7 children. I still draft houses from home, and squeeze in any watercolor, sketching, photography or drawing time I can, in-between all chaos!”
My day starts with…
“Getting up at 7 am to wake up the 5 oldest kids so they can get ready and make it up the driveway to the school bus at 7:30. No dilly-dallying…we don’t like getting up a minute earlier than necessary. Then I have a cup of coffee while I cuddle with Felix (4) and Holli (2). I am a slow-moving creature in the mornings, but after starting a load of laundry and a second cup of coffee, I check my messages, scroll through IG feed or listen to Voxer messages I might have received from Sweden while I was sleeping.”
How do you balance your creative business with family life?
“Throughout the day, it’s a fantastic chaos of me flying through house cleaning, drafting houses, watercolor painting, walks and podcast listening, toddler feeding, diaper changing, food preparation and the standard laundry and dishes until the school bus brings the children home! I don’t work after they’re home, but try to take time to chat with the kids and have some screen-free time until after supper. I actually really enjoy cooking, so supper time with the entire family is important! After the children go to bed, I get back to work, go out with a friend or—some very rare times—go to bed early. My husband is a top-notch supporter of my work and helper of parenting the children, so together we keep a pretty calm and clean chaos.”
I fell in love with design…
“When I was very young. Mom says I drew primitive stick people until I was 4, then one day started drawing “real” people and my skills developed quickly from there.”
What’s in your toolbox?
“I hate pencils but LOVE pens. I love pens with black ink and a bold tip. Sharpies are great but ink ball pens are even better. I have a PRANG watercolor set, a pile of very random brushes from Blick art store, a fairly decent stash of notebooks with random papers (Bristol, watercolor paper, graph paper…) and that’s about it.”
What is your process when creating a new design?
“I usually get inspired by random color combinations. They may be something I see in nature in passing, something I create from my imagination, or something I have developed from my stash of favorites. I draw or paint by hand, take a photo with my phone (it uploads super fast through Google cloud!), download it on my laptop, edit it in Gimp and then make repeats in Inkscape. I recently decided to start using Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop instead… but haven’t made the switch yet! If I create a sharp geometric design, I make it directly in Inkscape.”
When I’m in my studio…
“I feel inspired, energetic and creative, or else I’m sitting there wondering what the rest of the family is doing outside of my studio. You don’t get the “flow” every day!”
What inspires your work?
“I have had a hard time pinning down what my own style even is, but have realized I’m drawn to a lot of Scandinavian art. Mix that with a bohemian flow, bold colors and a bit of geometry and I think that’s me! Marimekko, Helen Dardik, Holli Zollinger and Orla Kiely are some of the best design(ers) I get inspired by.”
If I could live in a painting, I would live in…
“Please no. I love life! Just kidding… I would live in one of Helen Dardik’s paintings with many girls and a cat or two.”
I’d love to see one of my designs turned into…
“A clothing collection! Or what about wallpaper in a fantastic house decorated by Emily Henderson, right in Portland!?? Fabulous dream.”
The best advice I ever received…
“Is from Amarilys Henderson. She is a fantastic watercolor artist I follow on Skillshare, and she taught me to just keep going even if it doesn’t look great at first. If you paint with watercolor, and the third flower is a bit wonky, it will fit just perfect if you keep painting all the other wonky flowers around it. It’s not in the tiny details, it’s in the overall artwork.
Also, don’t overthink it. It’s better to put yourself out there when you’re good rather than to hide until you believe you’re perfect – you’ll be hiding forever.”
The secret to a strong collection is…
“To keep it simple. You really don’t need endless color variations and endless coordinates. Move on to the next piece!”
What colors do you enjoy working with most?
“My Flamingo Defragmentation Gray design has many of my favorite colors, and I love the movement and sketchy feel combined with geometric perfect shapes.”
What drew you to Spoonflower?
“I’ve always loved sewing. I think I forced mom to teach me how when I was in elementary school. As I got older, I created my own patterns for the clothes I sewed and then started selling on Etsy. Then I decided I wanted to actually design the fabric I used and through some searches and digging online, I found Spoonflower! What made me actually stick to it was their well-designed website. It is true it’s come a long way since then, but the ease of use was just perfectly designed for anyone to get hooked! It was like magic—I drew with markers next to my kids, then—voila! Pattern to order on fabric right here!”
For someone new to trying the design challenge, what advice would you give them?
“If you’re designing for a challenge or for your Spoonflower store, try to not look too much at what other people are doing. I absolutely love Holli Zollinger’s work. And I may, even more, admire Esther Fallon’s absolutely stunning designs! But! I had to realize I am not good at creating those types of designs. I’m good at geometry and hand-drawn silliness and I’m good at stunner color combinations! So I try to create what my hand can do well. And don’t stress about the challenges. There is a new one next week!”
Of the design challenges you’ve entered, which resonated with you most?
“My entry for the Art Deco challenge is a design I love to look back at. I wonder if one day I will splurge and get this design on bedding from Roostery—wouldn’t that be such a treat?”
What is your favorite design in your Spoonflower shop?
“I don’t always love the patterns that end up being best sellers in my shop. Some of my favorites are not big sellers at all. After so many years of creating it’s hard for me to pick one favorite, but this retro wallpaper is probably one of my top five for sure. I have the gray version as wallpaper in my entry!