When Kristin Nohe walks by that open box of donuts in the break room, she doesn’t see a snack — she sees wallpaper. And fabric. And an iPhone case. Ditto for dinner at a sushi bar, or a neighbor’s backyard barbeque. For Nohe, a gifted graphic designer for whom a spinning class ends not in a pool of sweat but with a skein of wool, everything and anything she sees is a springboard to inspiration.

“I used to spend a lot of time on the bus going back and forth from work, and every day I’d see things that would give me an idea, usually something ordinary but with a bit of humor” said Nohe, who spent several years as a graphic designer for Target stores. “One time someone was eating an apple and I wrote it down – apple cores – and then turned it into a pattern.”

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Keeping a To-Draw List

Apple cores, donuts, floating pieces of sushi, each of her quirky and colorful drawings started out as a few words jotted down in the to-draw list that Nohe updates throughout the day. A visit to the ice cream shop turns into cheery fabric layered with bright images of the sweet treats. A pizza delivery becomes a witty study in geometric forms. Just check out her fabric designs on Spoonflower or her phone cases on Society 6 or her thousands of pins on Pinterest and you get the idea.

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“I find food to be funny – I love to draw it and make it stand out,” Nohe said. “I love to get you to think about something in a different way.”

Different pretty much sums up Nohe’s path, both academically and in her career. She’s the little kid who dressed up as an artist on career day at school. She’s the girl who sat next to you in math class, secretly sketching under her desk. And she’s the art school student whose senior thesis in graphic illustration was so vivid and dynamic, it landed her that job at Target.

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Transforming Inspiration into Work

Now, with four years of corporate experience under her belt, Nohe’s back to doing what she loves best – drawing, drawing, and then drawing some more. And while, as with any artist, there’s more than a bit of magic to Nohe’s creative spark, there’s logic and method as well. Nohe’s process gives her a firm footing from which to launch her joyful and whimsical designs, and she’s more than happy to share.

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So first, lets talk about The List.

“I always start with my list,” Nohe said, referring to the notebook she carries to write down the various inspirations that strike her throughout the day. Sometimes it’s just a word or two – apple core, say, or flamingo – to remind her of an image she wants to play with. Often the reminders are of words themselves, like an intriguing sentence from an overheard conversation, or an unusual turn of phrase that catches her fancy. The words get added to Nohe’s list and, often enough, find their way into a drawing.

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“I check my list and see what’s most interesting and then I go to the sketchpad and start to concentrate on one of my ideas,” Nohe said. “After doing the drawings, I scan it all into the computer, then import it into Bamboo Paper and use a Wacom stylus to color it in and draw more on top of it.”

For several years, the Intuos Pro was Nohe’s go-to digital tablet. These days, she’s excited about the Bamboo Stylus fineline, which has turned her iPad into her primary sketchpad.

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“The Bamboo Stylus fineline is a stylus specifically for your iPad, which I love,” Nohe said. “You know how a regular stylus has that thick, nubby tip, almost like a Q-Tip? The Bamboo Stylus fineline is thin, like a pencil or a pen, which when you’re drawing and writing, is amazing.”

The learning curve for using the Bamboo Stylus fineline was fairly modest, Nohe said. After making sure her iPad’s Bluetooth was turned on and its Multi-touch Gestures was turned off, she put the Bamboo Stylus fineline against the touchscreen and was immediately drawing.

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“It took about a day to get used to the difference between the Intuos screen, which has some resistance built in, and the iPad screen, which is smooth glass,” Nohe said. “But it’s fast – you learn to control your hand and then you’re not thinking about it, you’re just drawing.”

Instead of relying on a paper sketchbook, which invariably draws attention when Nohe’s working in public, her Bamboo Stylus fineline lets her become invisible, just another person with an iPad.

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“I work a lot in coffee shops and the thing I don’t like about being in public with a pen and paper is that a lot of people come over and look over your shoulder to see what you’re doing,” Nohe said. “With the iPad and the Bamboo Stylus fineline, they don’t realize that you’re drawing and they leave you alone.”

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Instead of using an eraser or a series of commands when she’s had a change of heart in a drawing, the Bamboo Stylus fineline lets Nohe change her drawings with the touch of a button.

“What I love about the Bamboo Stylus fineline is that you just touch a button and you can make it undo or redo the line you just drew,” Nohe said. “You don’t have to keep hitting the ‘back’ button in the app; you just touch the button on the pen you’re already holding and it deletes it for you.”

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Burn Your Sketchbook

All of which is great for Nohe’s philosophy of drawing, which is basically to do it all the time. Don’t be precious about it, Nohe says. Be prolific and bold. Her advice to help aspiring artists and designers break free of the tyranny of perfection? Fill a sketchbook and burn it. And then do it again.

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“I’m always drawing, always thinking about drawing, and I never show anyone what I’m working on,” Nohe said. “That’s the other freeing thing – you do it for yourself, because you love it, because what you love best in the world is to draw.”


The Bamboo Stylus fineline is available at Target.

To see more of Kristin Nohe’s work, follow her here:

Instagram: https://instagram.com/kristinnohe/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/knohe/

Society 6: http://society6.com/kristinnohe

Spoonflower: http://society6.com/kristinnohe

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