Women Who MAKE: Hapi Art and Pattern

Today, I’m so excited to bring you into the bold and colorful world of Kristi Kohut of Hapi Art and Pattern. Kristi is a home-town gal living and working in the suburbs of Chicago. Her work is unexpected, statement making and FUN. She has expanded her art collection to include both fabric and wallpaper, and was recently named one of Elle Decor’s “7-Next-Big-Thing Artist.” I’m not the first to feature her amazing home and studio. You can also see more with tours from Rue Magazine and Domino.

Kristi is incredibly kind and we had so much playing for the morning at her home. I got to drool over all her fabrics, and see the brand new wallpaper collection! Stay tuned for the beautiful holiday table spread we shot in her dining room. We used her artwork as the menu card, love it! Also, if you’re dying to own some of Kristi’s artwork for yourself, you can purchase originals through her web site, and many of her prints are available at Minted. Below is the interview!

All photography done by the incredible, Anna Sodziak.

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Centered By Design: Women Who MAKE Interview – HAPI ART

  • Name: Kristi Kohut
  • Age: 38
  • Current title/company name: Artist, Founder of Hapi Art and Pattern
  • Years in operation: 3 (34)

What are your first memories of making [art]/being creative?

I can remember making art ever since I was a little girl. I would sit at my desk in my bedroom with a simple water color palette for hours. It’s really always been my favorite thing…it just took me a bit to realize I could do this for a living. 😉

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How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own as a small business owner? 

While working on the creative side of advertising as an art director, I learned so much. It really taught me a lot about the creative process and how to be resilient. There is such dichotomy of collaboration and competition in the field….but I loved every minute of it. There’s no time to be afraid and passive, you have to go for it, put your ideas out there and see what works. And then do it all over again. Just make it happen. That mind set I think is so key to running a small business. 

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Tell us about the process of launching HAPI ART. Best parts? Biggest challenge? 

I just started. I had – and still don’t! – no idea what I was doing…there’s no road map out there. So I just started one step at a time…a lot of trial and error, figuring out what works, how to make my visions happen, refining, collaborating, failing, trying again….and then things start to connect. My biggest challenge? Hmm….patience…I have so many ideas so many visions of things I want to create or do with my business, but there’s a natural rhythm that things unfold in…so patience, allowing this to happen because there’s only so many hours in a day, it’s hard for me to relax and let them manifest as they are supposed to. 

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What is your favorite part of the design process? What inspires you and why? 

Oh I really love all parts of it…finding inspiration, dreaming up ideas in my mind, creating, failing, fixing, then that moment when it all comes together. Love it all. I’m inspired by so much…the world around us, the color and pattern in nature is just astounding. I’m also quite a Instagram and Pinterest addict and find lots of inspiration in other artistic fields such as interior design and fashion. I’m constantly feeding my head. 

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What is the best advice you have for other female entrepreneurs?

Push through fear and resistance and just keep moving forward! 

Do you have a design philosophy, and if so, what is it?

My design philosophy is a bit different from my art, but I’d say to pare it down, keep it simple and keep only essentials, eliminate what’s not needed. That being said, I’m clearly not afraid of pattern and color. 😉

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Imagine your business in five years. How would you like to grow?

I have all kinds of visions and ideas, but I’ve really learned to go with the flow and let the dots connect as they are supposed to. I know I want to keep creating and pushing my work and my business forward and I can’t wait to see how it’s supposed to unfold. 

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Was there a moment you felt like you got your big break? What was it?

The moment I worked up enough courage to put my work out there. I remember waling into the first gallery that showed my work absolutely terrified and not knowing what to expect. Their support was just the encouragement I needed to flip the switch and set off my desire to really go for it. It’s been an exciting whirlwind ever since and I can’t wait to keep creating and moving it forward. 

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What do you enjoy most about the creative community here in Chicagoland?

I love connecting and collaborating with artists from all fields – like you! 😉 I think that’s where some of the most creative work stems from. There’s a lot of innovation happening here…not just in fine art, but in other areas such as the culinary arts…there’s so much creativity and experimentation and I think our community really supports it and just eats it up. 

Centered By Design is my business name, but it’s also the idea that we can find a bit of sanctuary each day through design, that good design can center us and make us feel great. Does your design process center you in any way? If so, how? 

For sure. I always joke that making art keeps me sane….it does exactly what I hope it does for the viewer at least a little bit, which is to lift us out of the day to day, the ordinary, to connect us to what’s beyond. The call to create is so strong, if I didn’t create, it would leave me off kilter, it truly does “center” me. 

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KRISTI’s Chicagoland Favorites: 

  • Favorite spot to get inspired: I love being in the city…visiting galleries, going to dinner with my husband or out with friends, the energy of it all….but I equally love just being in nature…walking on the trail right by where we live or through the Botanical Gardens. A little bit of everything. 😉
  • Favorite florist: Joseph’s in Libertyville
  • Favorite place to shop for home décor/furniture/thrift: Jayson Home and Garden
  • Favorite place for coffee: Hansa in Libertyville
  • Favorite place for a sweet treat: The Office at The Aviary….their foie gras on toast with preserves, followed by the most decadent make-your-own sundae that indulges the kid in you, but spoils the adult in you at the same time. 

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Thank you so much for sharing with us Kristi! Excited to show you all the inspiring holiday shoot in a few short weeks. I’d also love to hear from you about other Women Who MAKE candidates for 2017. Nominate yourself or someone who inspires you and leave me a comment below!

Peace, Love and HAPI-ness – XO, CLAIRE