My name is Khristian A. Howell, and I’m a color and pattern expert, designer, and author. I use color and pattern with abandon to create products made for fearlessly chic living. I live and work in Atlanta with my husband and our little one.
Like many makers today, I came to do what I do in a line that zig zags. I don’t have an art degree; I actually studied advertising and French at the University of Georgia. After I finished school, I realized that advertising wasn’t quite for me, but I wasn’t sure where to go from there. I knew I loved graphic design and fashion, but I had no idea about the world of textile and surface design.
After a few years navigating my way through entry-level design gigs, I found myself in Seattle with my boyfriend (now husband), where I landed a job as a colorist at a well-known retailer. I sat with all the textile artists, and soon, I started asking questions…lots and lots of questions. They had an enormous workload, and after some time, they started giving me small tasks. I would often stay late to teach myself the programs they used and practice designing. In a short time, I started sending my own artwork into buy meetings; soon, my title morphed into colorist and textile artist.
Working as an in-house artist was one of the biggest gifts I could have ever received. The experience taught me to not only focus on making beautiful things, but also to think about the business side of making beautiful things. After working very, very hard for five years, I decided I was ready to live my life in a more autonomous fashion, so I left my job on the faith that if I could have work appear in this amazing store, I could certainly make it happen for myself, too. With that, I began working with print studios – and then moved on to licensing my designs. Seeking even more control and autonomy, I opened my Etsy shop in November 2010.
When I create, everything begins with color. I need to have a connection to the color palette before I can even begin thinking about patterns. For me, the color is so connected to the story that often the direction for the artwork stems directly from the feeling the colors evoke for me. In terms of creating the actual designs, sometimes I draw by hand with markers, inks or acrylics, or sometimes I go digital. It depends on what look I’m after, and honestly, what mood I am in.
I’m endlessly inspired by travel. I’ve been to France, Spain, London, New York, and Birmingham several times, as well as Croatia. I’ve also lived in very distinct regions in the US, including Seattle, Austin, and Atlanta. What I love most about travel is that it gets me out of my norm, and allows my creative energy to come to the surface. Being away makes me feel like time ceases to exist; in these moments, when I have no other obligations, I feel deeply creative and I am able to hone in on my inner voice. Listening to my creative intuition feels magical.
Selling on Etsy has allowed me to introduce my work to a new, different audience than the one I reach on my own site. I’m always impressed and thankful for how patient and responsive my Etsy buyers are. It’s nice to interact directly with them, and know that the detail I put into my craft is appreciated. In terms of the future, there is so much around the corner. We always have our hands in many, many pots! In addition to revamping our licensing program, we are also looking to grow our stockists.
All photographs by Niki Malek for Khristian A. Howell Color + Pattern + Space.