What do a whimsical imagination, a love for cats, traveling and the practice of wushu have in common? All wrapped into one, they are the qualities and interests of this week’s featured designer, Alena Karabanova. Otherwise know as alenkakarabanova in the Spoonflower Marketplace, Alena resides in Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia where she creates playful patterns that are a mirror reflection of her brilliant and thoughtful personality.
My day starts with…
“Having a cup of fragrant Chinese tea while reading a book. It’s the perfect time for me to dream about my future and come up with some crazy ideas. Three times a week I begin the morning with the Chinese martial art, wushu. I like to keep my body and mind in tune.”
I fell in love with design…
“When I was a child I used to draw a lot on the wallpaper in my room. My mom wasn’t angry at me and gave me the part of the wall for my drawings. I appreciated it so much! That is how I became a pattern and surface designer. Even now my inner child helps me to create magical stories. She helps me work on my illustrations, she prompts me, agrees or criticizes. It’s so important to listen to her because she would never give bad advice.”
What’s in your toolbox?
“I use a variety of tools. It depends on my mood. Therefore, it’s possible to find in my toolbox anything from colored pencils to cutting tools to linocut supplies.”
What is your process when creating a new design?
“I like to go hiking and be in nature for a long time. This is my inspiration! I do pencil sketches, then I scan them and draw digitally in Adobe Illustrator.”
When I’m in my studio, I feel…
“Calm, inspired and ready to work.”
Who or what influences or inspires your work and why?
“My main source of inspiration is traveling! Our planet is so incredible! In my journeys I’ve discoved new types of plants and animals which I want to paint immediately. The main topic of my patterns shows my love for the variety and richness of colors in nature.
Still I have a personal muse—my cat. I do many sketches from it. Then I use them in creation of the patterns with tigers and leopards. That’s why my wild animals are like cute pets.”
What piece of your wardrobe best represents your style?
“My old friend is my stretched sweater with a bright geometrical ornament. I have many good memories connected with it. From being in the Himalayas, traveling around Europe and even all the times spent on my sofa at home.”
I’d love to see one of my designs turned into…
“Kidswear, bedding and home décor things. It’s hard to pick one!”
The secret to a strong collection is…
“A fixed color palette, an interesting motif and an invoked feeling which the author puts in the work.”
My mantra is…
“Whatever you do, do it as best you can and have fun.”
What drew you to Spoonflower?
“An opportunity to hold my patterns in my hands. It is very important to a designer to see that what they create continues to have life in other things. I was madly happy when I sewed my first shirt from my tiger fabric!”
For someone new to trying the design challenge, what advice would you give them?
“Winning is only one of the few gifts that the design challenges can bestow. It also gives the chance to draw on a community of creative people, to investigate different approaches to a subject, to be inspired and try to create something unique.”
Alena Karabanova is a surface pattern designer from Russia. Her colorful designs are the result of a constant desire for travel exploration and the enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures. Interested to learn more? Keep up with Alena on Instagram.