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We are creative, passionate thinkers and doers who believe that fulfilling our purpose comes from an inherent desire to make changes that positively impact the people around us.
Meet Kate Balah, senior designer and human extraordinaire. She is a breath of fresh air and the one who keeps us all cheerfully young.
How long have you worked with Industria?
Since 2017 in March. So I guess it’s been slightly less than 3 years with the break in between.
Tell me about that break
I decided to take a year to travel Europe, which I’m very glad I did considering the current circumstances. It was a goal of mine when I finished university that within 5 years I wanted to take a big trip.
What brought you back?
Covid, unfortunately (laughs). Luckily I was nearing the end of it anyways, so I had the opportunity to experience most of what I’d wanted to.
Did you expect to come back to Industria?
No. I had thought of potentially moving to Vancouver, actually. I felt at the time that I had achieved what I needed to at the company. But, when you approached me about a new position and how you wanted to shape Industria, I was really drawn in. It made me want to give it another go.
What is your role and how has it changed over the years?
I began as a product developer, and jack of all trades. The company was still pretty small at the time. I think I was the 6th hire. I did a bit of everything: illustration, packaging design, photo work, you name it. Pretty soon we realized we needed to hire other people which gave me the freedom to focus on what I exceled best at, surface design and pattern work.
When I rejoined the company, I was hired as a senior designer.
What does your day to day look like?
I start my mornings with coffee. It’s a necessity!
Primarily most of my projects are design based, creating textile patterns. I’ve been working a lot on developing artwork for kids and baby collections, which has been really fun. Children’s work is more whimsical which is more part of my nature and what I love to do. Outside of that, I do proposal creation, and canvas art. There’s always something different to work on, which keeps things fresh.
What inspires you?
I’m heavily inspired by nature, and interesting artwork. I love to be outdoors hiking or on the water, and when it was possible I enjoyed taking advantage of our local museums and art galleries to get inspired.
How does the process of surface design start? I see you painting sometimes, does it always start that way?
It depends on how complex the illustration is or if I’m doing canvas art. A lot of the themes and trends coming up have a bit more of that natural touch that comes from hand-painted work. Some of the other projects are done in illustrator and are much more graphic looking.
I use Pinterest a lot to get inspired, as well as other designer’s work I love and admire. A big part of the design process is sourcing a ton of images to feel inspired and gain direction for when I begin to create my own designs. Mood and direction boards are vital to creating a unique and cohesive collection.
Project you’re most proud of?
Most recently I created a floral pattern for a sheet set where I hand drew a bunch of different floral designs then brought them into photoshop to transform into a pattern. I was really happy with it because it’s something I haven’t done in a while. It was a more complex and delicate pattern, which was a nice change-up from the juvenile designs I’ve been working on.
Do you think you are living out your purpose at this point in your life?
I think I am. For me, I’ve always wanted to bring joy to people through my art. It’s what fuels me.
Ever since I was a kid, if others came up to me and asked me to draw for them, I was always happy to oblige. Seeing their enjoyment from something I created gave me a feeling of satisfaction that’s hard to express, it made me feel fulfilled.
I went into illustration in order to bring joy to people through my work, and I believe I’m doing that now.
What is your creative process?
I thrive in a type of environment that is open and has lots of space to be creative.
Sometimes I’ll sketch on my couch, and having that freedom has been amazing.
However, I do need to have a sense of community as well. I love to show people what I’m working on to get constructive criticism and grow as an artist.
How has Covid impacted your ability to do your work?
It’s actually been better for me. The studio can get noisy which sometimes isn’t conducive to the creative process. I like lush plants; I like to see the outside and to be able to sit in different areas and work. And, I like not being interrupted. When I’m working creatively and really into it, if I get pulled away it can be really jarring and hard to get back into afterwards. If I’m trying to think of ideas, if I’m having a really good creative moment and my drawings are coming out easily, if that is interrupted it can be really frustrating. Here, at home I don’t really have that problem, except when the cat comes in!
What do you see for your short term and long-term future?
It’s so hard to forecast now given our climate. I very much have been trying to live in our present because it can be stressful thinking about what’s to come in the future and when things are going to change and if they are going to change for the better or worse. Personally, goal wise, in the next 5 years I want to have a nice base of operations, and I want to be as creative as possible. As long as I’m being fulfilled creatively, then that’s all that matters.
I am looking forward to seeing how Industria evolves and shapes itself and if it can achieve everything that we’ve been talking about because the structure and the community and everything that we’ve discussed about who we are is just right up my alley. I want the entrepreneurial setting. I want to learn and grow and be celebrated for that and try new things and not be afraid to take risks and pitch ideas. I’m all about growth and seeing what I can do and what I can bring to the table.
Thank you Kate !
We hope you enjoyed this introduction to our new Employee Spotlight series, and look forward to sharing more stories and insights from the passionate, dedicated people who make the Industria team whole.