Plucky Pioneer Interview No.4


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It is a great honor to introduce to you our latest Plucky Pioneer, the incredibly talented Bella Foster. Bella is a freelance artist based out of Brooklyn, New York and happens to be an acquaintance of my Plucky Partner Jane Lilly Warren.  Jane snagged Bella for this interview and I couldn’t be more thankful!  You may well recognize Bella’s work from the 2010 Kate Spade agenda and various other collaborations she’s done with the company.  Her work has an innate sense of whimsy and fearless use of color that stole my heart long ago.  I hope you enjoy this glimpse of her story.  Without further ado, I give you the brilliant Bella…

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What inspires you creatively?

I love looking at paintings in books, especially old art catalogs. I have this great set of pamphlets from the Metropolitan Museum of Art I found at a thrift store years ago – it was produced probably in the 50’s, of their permanent collection at that time. All the paintings are stamps, so you’re supposed to put the image of the painting (the stamp!) on the artist page yourself…I love just having the mini painting stamps.  [Above, a photo of Bella at the sweetest house I ever did see. The first image is a room painted by Bella featuring details such as a blue John Robshaw pillow she spotted in a boutique.]

Plants, and flowers, and great textile design inspired by these things…like josef frank’s work.  [Below, a gorgeous photograph of flowers taken by Bella.]

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I sometimes look up interior designers to get inspiration, and I’ve found I love rooms done my muriel brandolini. and kelly wearstler’s recent work. I love that wallpaper she used that looks like a pink Franz Kline print. I actually have not idea if it’s wallpaper or what, but I like it. [Below, the Kelly Wearstler walls that inspire Bella.]

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Friends. Oh a good friend of mine introduced me to this artist Mary Hackett, who lived in provincetown. She also painted interiors. I’d love to see one of her paintings in real life (I’ve only seen them in books). [Below, a Mary Hackett painting.]

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Who are your design mentors?

Andy Warhol’s illustration inspired me to try it out. For designers: Alexander Girard, Josef Frank, and Mary Blair, for color and spirit.

THIS article in the New Yorker put Marc Jacobs on my list.

As for artists, I would also have to add Kiki Smith, Cindy Sherman, Mary Heilmann, Elizabeth Peyton, Karen Kilimnik, David Hockney, Alex Katz, Ricahrd Tuttle…

How would you describe your personal design aesthetic?

I like to find the magic in the ordinary. [Below, a magical Bella floral.]

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What propelled you work for yourself?

I’ve been painting forever….but what made me quit my day job was the ‘do what you love and the money will follow’ school of thought.

Best business advice you’ve been given?

Do what you do because you’d do it even if no one ever paid you to. [Below, Bella’s studio, including her adorable pup Alice.]

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Creative businesswoman you admire?

I think I would have to say Tina Fey.

What keeps you organized and on task?

Deadlines! Real ones, and self made ones. [Below, one of Bella’s illustrations for the charming 2010 Kate Spade agenda.]

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Describe your typical work day…

First thing: coffee. then email. walk the dog, and weather permitting get some exercise outside. then get to work in studio. I prefer to not have distractions while working, no phone, no email. [Below, another photograph of inspiring blooms taken by the talented Bella.]

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Your dream project?

I’d love to design some textiles that tell a story through the imagery…or are portraits of places or people using motifs and symbols. And since we’re talking Dream Project, I would also work with one of my favorite perfumers to create smells that go with the prints.

I’d also love to make some illustrated books that are all pictures and no words.

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What goals do you have for your work in the future?

I would like to have a show of my paintings…the ones no one has seen yet! [Above, a painting of Bella’s that is now making it’s first appearance online!]

Advice to other budding creatives looking to start out on their own:

Well the obvious: Never give up! Be authentic. Expect miracles. [Below, Alice.]

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Be sure to check in tomorrow for Bella’s Plucky Pioneer Cheat Sheet — her picks for travel, flowers and more!  Thank you Bella!

16 comments on “Plucky Pioneer Interview No.4

  1. Starfish and Sundresses

    Ohh Kate, you always have the most amazing posts! Bella Foster is completely fantastic. I bought both the Kate Spade calendar and agenda this year because I wanted to be sure I had extra pictures to frame when I was done with them!


  2. Haydee

    Not only do I have this very Kate Spade journal, but also the wall calendar because I could not get enough of Bella’s work! It’s so refreshing, fun and inspiring to look at everyday. I love that Bella starts her day with coffee (like moi), is inspired by Alexander Girard and admires Tina Fey?!! No wonder I took to her illustrations so much! Excellent interview, excellent subject. Very inspiring:)

  3. KateMcG

    My Monday mornings are so much brighter now that your “Plucky Pioneers” have come along- what inspiration!! Bella’s art is beautiful- I’m in love with the florals. “I like to find magic in the ordinary”- love her!!

  4. polosandpeonies

    Great interview. I wasn’t aware of Bella until I saw her illustrations for Kate Spade. I have the planner and the wall calendar. I love looking at them – there is just something so pretty about the colors and themes. I also love her inspirations so it’s not surprising that I am enamored of her work!

  5. Corinna

    “Her work has an innate sense of whimsy and fearless use of color “– such a beautifully crafted sentence! watercolor makes me happy- thank you for such a wonderful post this morning!

  6. Lauren

    I adore her magical floral painting. The way the bright hues jump out against the dark backdrop is so stunning. It must have taken so much courage to decide to pursue her dream! She is definitely an inspiring pioneer.

  7. Amanda

    Another inspiring Plucky Pioneer! I’ve honestly been excited to get to my laptop today to see who you had featured! It’s becoming the highlight of my Mondays! xo

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