Friday, June 13, 2014

Artist Spotlight - Susanne Kasielke

I met Susanne at Surtex last month - Can't wait to see what she does next!

(click photos to view larger).

Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?
For as long as I can remember I loved to draw and my favorite medium has always been pencil & paper. After finishing highschool I only dreamt of making money while being creative. I decided to study Mathematics instead - because that was the other thing I was good at. But let's put it this way: It wasn't for me. After one semester I knew I had to figure out a way of pursuing my creative dream.

I found a wonderful college which highly valued original fine art techniques & at the same time offered a graphic design education. Until that point I was convinced that working on a computer was a necessary evil to make a living. I couldn't have been more wrong: It took a while but I got completely hooked: I realized how much fun & how many endless possibilities working digitally offered. I do think that it's important for artists to know & understand old painting techniques; I was very lucky to have been taught by incredible & inspiring teachers.

A Master's degree in fine arts & graphic design and 5 years later I started as a graphic design intern in a big advertisement agency in Munich/Germany. Just to show everyone that I've tried the agency path but that it wasn't for me. I ended up staying for 4 years, because surprisingly I really liked it (most of the time). I've worked with wonderful people and learned incredibly much. These  years of professional experience showed me what I'm capable of, what my strengths are & how the business works.

When I moved to DC in 2009 it was the perfect moment to start fresh, work freelance & focus on my art. If I had known how many endless possibilities for creative people existed I would have made this switch sooner!

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
I think that all my artwork – painting, pattern or drawing – shows my love for antiques. I'm fascinated by old & vintage objects, because they carry so many memories & always tell a story. My inspiration is basically everywhere – by noticing a broken chair in the streets, by strolling around flea markets or by seeing an old wall with paint coming off. Once upon a time I started to collect vintage objects (preferably old suitcases & books). Old things represent the past. Without the past we wouldn't have precious & important memories and we wouldn't be able to grow & learn. I personally like to link memories to objects. It's very important to me to remember and appreciate history – It's what brought us to this moment.

But despite all things vintage, there are so many incredibly talented designers, artists & crafters out there – every day I'm inspired & amazed. I can't get enough of following them on their creative paths. They are the ones who teach & introduce me to (creative) possibilities that I haven't thought of. I am learning every day & I am so thankful to them for inspiring & helping me pursuing my creative dream.

Do you work in just one medium? Several?
I live by the motto: Do one thing every day that makes you happy! For me that means to being creative: to paint, illustrate or design.

I work in very different mediums, but at the end there's always a digital connection. For my DC LOVE illustrations & products (above), I use my all time favorite medium: pencil. As a next step the finished drawing is scanned and digitally colored. The same goes for my repeating patterns. I usually start with hand-drawn sketches & doodles. Once digitalized I bring the different elements together by collaging & layering. When I paint, my way of expressing is abstract. I work with canvas & handmade paper by using gesso and different layers of paint (oil and acrylic color). Between those layers I use sandpaper to bring out structure and texture. The combination of sanding, scratching and applying layers of paint emphasizes special areas but at the same time it brings out unexpected shapes and forms.

What are you working on now?
As I mentioned before I'm working in very different mediums and I've been struggling with integrating the abstract paintings into my patterns. That's why I was especially over the moon, when DENY DESIGNS ( chose to license 16 vintage inspired patterns including my Dictionary Love series. In March my designs went live & I'm super excited about my art on their wide range of products: There's something for everyone: from bedding sheets to jewelry boxes to dog pillows. It's really fantastic to see on how many different products my art can be used.

Did I mention that I LOVE leggings? I can't believe there are people who think leggings aren't pants. I couldn't disagree more! I'm so happy that my brand new abstract art leggings are now available at ArtofWhere ( And believe me: I'm my best customer.

Living in my favorite city ever – Washington DC – made me create my DC LOVE series ( consisting of souvenirs like magnets, pocket mirrors, bottle opener & postcards. The illustrations are based on my original pencil drawings which are digitally colored and reproduced. I am super excited that starting this week they are available in two stores at the DCA (Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport). My plan is to extend my souvenir collection to many other cities, first within the US but eventually I'll take over the souvenir market of the world. (A girl has to have dreams, right?)

After Surtex is before Surtex, right? I just walked the licensing trade show for the first time in May, because I plan on exhibiting in 2015. The experience was incredible, I met so many talented & inspiring artists (finally in person!) & got many valuable tips. It showed me how much I really want to succeed in the surface pattern world. I can't wait to be an exhibitor next year. It seems a bit far away still, but there is so much planning ahead involved – It's never to early to start...  

I'm always looking out for new surface pattern & licensing opportunities. The best thing for me is to see my art on products. Every new product with my art supports my dream & brings me one step closer to succeed as an artist.

Anything else you want to tell everyone?
Some little facts to get to know me better:
- I write & paint with my left hand but anything else I pretty much use my right hand for (playing pingpong for example)
- I always carry a (lucky) penny with me (got that from my Grandmother)
- Never talk to me when I'm hungry (I have many friends who can confirm that)
- (Because of the above) It doesn't matter where I go, I always have something to eat in my bag
- I love Mini-Golf
- My favorite band ever: Take That
- My crafts are totally inspired by my Mom – as a kid we used to make detergent boxes pretty by collaging wrapping paper around them
- I like going to bed early (I need a lot of beauty sleep)
- I love Snugglebumms - I think that's the first thing I've ever bought from my pocket money
- I've never met someone who loves Washington DC more than I do

Are you an early riser? or night owl?
I'm definitely the early bird type - If I don't get things done in the morning, I won't accomplished anything in the afternoon or the rest of day.
The best time to work for me is when the beautiful morning sun is shining into my apartment. After breakfast I sit at my desk with a hot cup of tea and start my work day well rested and relaxed.

What is your favorite food?
I have two favorite dishes actually: Spaghetti Bolognese and Chicken Quesadillas.
My Spaghetti Bolognese obsession started many years ago while I was living in Munich. A very close friend would make the best Spaghetti Bolognese that I've tried until then. (Many years & probably 437 Spaghetti Bolognese later I modestly think I've perfectionized the dish myself - Hopefully she doesn't read this...)

The Chicken Quesadillas are kind of a 'new thing' for me. The more I eat the more I like them (also: the more guacamole comes with the quesadillas the better).

You can find Susanne:
Phone: +

What did you like best about Susanne's Spotlight? ME, "I'll take over the souvenir market of the world. (A girl has to have dreams, right?)" RIGHT ON! :-D

Do you want to be spotlighted? Send me an email:
THANKS for stopping by! - make my day and follow this blog :-D


  1. Hi Susanne!!! Great to see you here at Annie's place. It was great meeting you and fun to see what you are doing. I love that your work is different and unique. What fun. Good luck with everything and continue to stay in touch. Watch out world!

    1. Hi Madeline! Thanks for stopping by :-)

    2. Madeline, Thank you so much for your feedback - I very much appreciate your support! It was fantastic to meet so many wonderful Ladies - including you & Ann - at Surtex!!!

  2. Hi Susanne. I recently discovered your work on Deny Designs and loved it! It's great to learn more about you and your work. Your abstract work is exciting to me - love the colors. I live west of DC in Waterford, VA and can see the Blue Ridge Mountains from here - which is my own inspiration. Good luck with all of your opportunities! Will you exhibit by yourself next year at Surtex or with a group?

    1. Thank you so much for you feedback! I am planning on exhibiting by myself next year. How about you? It looks like you're an artist yourself.

    2. That's awesome that you will exhibit yourself! Yes, I am an artist too. I exhibited at Surtex many many years ago and then went in different directions (handpainted textiles, opened a fine art/fine craft gallery that is now online only, did an MFA in Web Design, do some freelance design work, family, etc.). For the past year I have been looking into getting back into surface design to take advantage of all of the digital tools that I didn't have access to before. Lack of confidence has kept me from progressing very far but I am inspired by seeing all of the wonderful work out there and figure I just need to dive in and get a body of work together. If you would like to connect at all - here is my email:

    3. Hi Karen! I wanted to pop and and thank you for visiting my blog! I REALLY like the Artist Spotlights - It is inspiring to get a peak into what other artists do :-)

    4. Hi Annie! Thanks for putting the Artist Spotlights together. It's so great to get an insight into other designers inspirations and processes. It looks like you do quite a myriad of things yourself! Fun work!

    5. Karen, Thanks so much for sharing your story - it's very interesting! I'd love to connect with you!

  3. Beautiful work Susanne. Wish I'd seen the leggings sooner. I'm headed to Sweden on Friday. Your leggings look like the perfect travel attire.

    1. Leslie, It always makes me so happy when people appreciate my work - Thank you so much for your feedback! Sweden is so beautiful - wishing you a wonderful time & safe travels!

  4. I loved reading this. I am fairly new to the licensing industry and it's fun to meet others who are successfully make it in the industry. Thanks for letting us get to know you better~

    1. Hi Monica - I REALLY appreciate you stopping by my blog and commenting!


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