SHELLY KLEIN: We started this product line in 2004. I stumbled upon this technique of embroidery that I fell in love with and thought creating a product line around my drawings seemed like a unique and interesting idea. We have a few types of products. Some of the more figurative pieces are more what my studio work looks like. Those are pieces that come directly from my drawings and paintings. I’m thinking about topics such as loneliness and connectedness and looking at individual people and trying to convey a feeling. We also think our textiles and the embroidery process is so beautiful all by itself that we also have a set of designs that are patterns that utilizes the beauty of the process, so together it forms this kind of complete look which we’re enthusiastic about.
SK: We try to use the most sustainable fabric we can, based on what we want the visual to look like. Some of our textiles are certified organic and that’s wonderful when that can happen. Other times we use a material such as hemp which we know is grown in a more ecologically responsible way than some other textiles. While it’s not certified organic necessarily, we try to make a responsible choice. We’ll also use flax. Just the process of growing flax is less demanding on the environment than say cotton for example.
SK: Certainly, there’s a lot of design in Grand Rapids, MI especially because of the contract furniture industry [Herman Miller and Steelcase] and my mom’s [Mary Klein] background is in furniture, so I was exposed to a high level of design at a young age. I really like it here. Grand Rapids is a big, small city. It’s a nice comfortable place to live and allows me to have this business which is attached to my home. It’s a nice life and that’s always inspiring.
SK: When you get into a groove of looking inside, for me, sadness is that thing that bubbles up to the surface. It’s something that I feel burdened with and of course I keep in check and in my day-to-day life I manage it — but when I make art, I’m very interested in dealing with the things that sit with me in my sub-conscious. When I make art, sadness is the theme and always has been.
SK: We did a project for the Affinia Shelburne Hotel in New York. We created artwork for the lobby and textiles for all the guest rooms. It’s a lot of fun to create on that scale. — One of our most popular products is our family series; including custom pillows and wall art. The idea is that you can pick from our offering of characters, the ones that best represent your family and that’s kind of a semi-custom project.
SK: I feel a shift of both visually and with products; a shift to convey a feeling with line and color and not necessarily with illustrative imagery. My last introduction of textiles had a lot of patterns and I’m excited about it. The other shift is a line of ceramics with our images on them. It seems like a natural progression for us to add some other types of products to the line.
SK: I’m lucky to have this alternate form of communication at my disposal. So if I have something to say, I can say it through arts. I’m not always so good with words, but I am good at making a visual representation of a feeling. For me, art is a wonderful way to communicate with people in a deeper way. The business is an extension of that. I can reach a certain amount of people with my drawing and painting work, but I can reach many, many more people if I have a product line that is sold nationally and internationally through hundreds of outlets. It’s a wonderful feeling to put my works out there to remote places and I’m communicating to people I’ve never met. If someone responds to the imagery – I’ve done my job.
DISCOVER: K Studio