I talked to Ellen about what inspires her designs, her love of music, and a bit more about this creative chica's thoughts and design process...
1: Your prints have an awesome, simultaneously organic and geometric feel. Where do you find the inspiration?
I find print inspiration everywhere! Before I start designing prints each season I spend a lot of time going to galleries and museums and looking at art books. For fall I ended up being drawn to images of maps and aerial photography, so I ended up doing lots of research on google earth. I love the way farmland looks from above when you're on an airplane, so most of the imagery I looked at was from the midwest.
2: Backpacks have been a common theme across your collections. We also love backpacks at Arcadia and were wondering why you love them too?
Backpacks are the best! I always have one. They're great because they can hold everything and your hands are free. Even better if you have one in a great print. I started making them for myself while I was in college, since the only ones I could find were either too boring or too functional for my purposes (1,000 pockets). I wanted something simple and good looking that I could carry a couple books around in. I always got complements on them so I decided to sell them!
3. If we were to visit you in the studio, what music would be playing in the background?
I love music, and my tastes are all across the board. I love Brooklyn bands Darlings and The Babies, but I also like to listen to a lot of older music like Irma Thomas, Big Star and the Ramones. But while I'm working I spend more time listening to podcasts more than anything else. This American Life is my favorite, and I also love WTF with Marc Maron, Radiolab and Freakonomics.
4. I’m a sucker for animal prints and I’ve heard that you are a dog lover & owner. Can we look forward to animal prints in the future? (actual animals- we love your shark print- or animal patterns...)
I love using animals in my prints! I'm especially excited about the bug print that I used for spring. I will definitely use the animal motif again in the future, but haven't made up my mind yet on which animal to work with. In the past I've done a shark print and a dog print, where I used an actual picture of my dog's face!
5. If you weren’t designing, what else would you be doing?
If I wasn't designing clothes I would maybe try to get into another side of the design industry. I would love to open a shop at some point. A lot of what I'm doing now is on the business side of things, and I find it really interesting. I've toyed with the idea of going to business school, but something always comes up... haha. Someday! I don't see myself leaving the industry for a while though.
6. You’ve collaborated with other designers and even Urban Outfitters on various projects. If you could work with anyone in the world (company, designer, artist, etc.), who would it be?
This is such a hard question! I would love to collaborate with Swatch, I think that would be really fun. It would also be really cool to collaborate with someone who does housewares-- I've had a couch re-upholstered in one of my fabrics before which was really exciting. I'd love to be able to do that on a larger scale.
7. You have lived in Brooklyn for a few years now, what do you love about it? Any fave food, music or shopping spots you have to share??
Brooklyn is the best! There's space for my dog to run around, the apartments are bigger, the food is cheaper and we have trees! There's a lot of great, creative people around which is really inspiring. I love to eat at Caracas and Jimmy's diner in Williamsburg and Walter's in Fort Greene (in my neighborhood). For shopping I love to go to Stella Dallas in Williamsburg, they have a really great, affordable selection of vintage clothes and fabrics.
item of clothing: A vintage Geoffrey Beene dress that belonged to my grandmothercolor: seafoam green
travel destination: Savannah, GA
movie: Can I say Titanic?
thing about working for myself: qual time with the doggie
Thanks Ellen!! We all look forward to seeing you on the 9th!
*images from dusendusen.com