Pattern designer and illustrator, Allison Bielke creates patterns full of life, color, and classic kitsch. Taking both inspiration from mid century mod and her travels in life, Bielke has created some amazing iconic patterns that can be seen all over Milwaukee. From her amazingly adorable Colectivo Coffee bibs to a holiday ornament made for the Milwaukee Art Museum, her work can be seen in so many different forms. Bielke designs can be bought by the yard which takes the creative process on a whole new journey. On her own journey, Bielke speaks about how she got started, Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and what is on the horizon.
Maker Market: When and how did Allison Beilke Pattern Design and Illustration get started?
Allison Beilke: For years I wanted to learn how to make patterns and design fabrics, but I really had no idea how to get started. I stumbled upon a textile designers blog 7 or so years ago and in her frequently asked questions someone asked her how to get started doing that kind of work. She directed them to spoonflower.com - a website that allows you to upload your own pattern designs, have them printed on fabric and shipped to you. Once I figured out how to make a repeat tile and ordered my first swatches, I was hooked. For a few years it was just a fun hobby, but then I created a design of Milwaukee's skyline for a city scape design contest and it later spawned into my own small business when I started getting some positive feedback on that design from quilters and other people in the community.
MM: What kind of creative kid where you? Where you drawing at a young age?
AB: Yes, I was drawing a lot as a kid. I was lucky to have a family friend who lived down the street that gave me private art lessons. I learned so much from her at a young age.
MM: Many of your designs are holiday themed, including an ornament made for the Milwaukee Art Museum. Do you have a soft spot for such traditions? AB: Part of designing patterns for surfaces is determining what other people will want to see and purchase on products and the holiday market is huge. I really enjoy designing patterns for the holidays that have a little bit of a different color scheme or a modern twist than traditional holiday designs.
MM: Your designs have a mid century lean. Is there something that draws you to the past?
AB: Yes! I have always been drawn to mid century design. I remember watching older Hanna-Barbera cartoons as a kid and being drawn to the bright colors and flat shapes, which to me looked more interesting than the highly rendered, detailed cartoons of the 80s. Later I got more into the textiles and furniture design of that era and it's something that continues to inspire me. I liked that this style of design is sophisticated and understated, but also full of character.
MM: What does your creative process look like?
AB: I usually start with sketches and an idea for one main pattern design and then sometimes I create other coordinating fabrics afterwards. It's always fun to see what color schemes and collections can come from one design.
MM: With your pattern designs a customer can order yardage. Do you get to see any of the finished products from customer purchases? Does it inspire and excite you to see what people do with your patterns?
AB: Yes! I sometimes get to see people's finished products through social media and love seeing what people create! One of the coolest parts of designing fabric is that it inspires other creative people to make things with it that I never would have though of!
MM: What has been your biggest seller?
AB: Definitely the My Fair Milwaukee design.
MM: What have you been working on lately? What can shoppers expect to see from you at the upcoming Maker Market?
AB: Last year my new item was tea towels with my Milwaukee pattern on it. I am continuing to sell those along with other items like postcards, note cards and coasters.
MM: What is currently inspiring you? Music? Blogs? IG accounts? Artists?
AB: Traveling really inspires me! One of my favorite things is coming back from a new city I visited, going through my photography and seeing what ideas I can come up with from there.
To see the My Fair Milwaukee print in person check out Allison Bielke and her work at the upcoming Maker Market on Sunday June 19th at Colectivo Coffee in beautiful Bay View.