Hope Johnson Talks About Being An Artist and Balancing It With Family Life

In January of this year, Hope Johnson reached out in an unassuming email to introduce herself and her work to us.  She emailed us because (in her words), “I think we can make magic together”. I found myself falling in love with her breezy, beautiful patterns and the gorgeous color palettes she presented.  And after conducting a comprehensive survey with various prints from talented artists, our audience clearly agreed - they picked the Indigo Reef pattern as one of their favorites!

Hope Johnson Indigo Reef Artist

Hope Johnson is a textile and surface pattern designer, printmaker, and artist from a small town in Louisiana. Her love for the home, printmaker roots, and her native surroundings greatly influence her work. Hope has an eye for contrast and is inspired by the ebb and flow of life - old meets new, muted meets vibrant, traditional meets whimsical. She describes her collaborations and her artwork as "that feel-good vibe."  We definitely get that feel-good vibe from her Indigo Reef print and are excited to launch this new pattern in our travel line!  

Kaleido Concepts Indigo Reef Pattern

To give you more insight into her work and her life as an artist, here is an interview we recently did with Hope.  

First, tell us a little bit about yourself & how you became an artist!

I suppose I've always been a creative person. As a child, I was always drawing or dreaming up some elaborate idea or scheme. I always had a vision - for what I was painting at the time or how I wanted to rearrange my bedroom. That creativity warped into my being as I grew. It was no surprise to any when I focused my college degree in fine arts and printmaking. This was a time I truly felt alive within my vision for my art career.

Is there a particular place where you go to feel inspired?

I can be a bit introverted when it comes to sharing my art practice. I find myself most inspired when I'm alone in any creative space. That creative space fluctuates depending on what I'm needing. Often, it's a quiet drawing session on my living room floor. Other times, it's a trip to an antique store or a stroll through Anthropologie (a favorite of mine). I often let that creativity manifest and bring it to my studio when I'm ready to let it all out.

When you were creating this new Indigo Reef pattern for Kaleido Concepts, what was your inspiration?  

The artwork I created for the Reef Print began as a painted piece right here in my studio with my son and daughter by my side. My studio is nestled in my backyard and my little ones and I visit it pretty much daily during those summer months. We live just a couple of hours away from the gulf coast and our warmer days are spent either on or near the water. Over the years, my kids and I have created quite a collection of coastal finds ...from shells to driftwood to dried seaweed. The Reef was inspired by the grass-lines that often form when warmer waters meet cooler waters. It's a place where two underwater worlds collide and I've always found it fascinating that the grass-lines could extend for miles and miles, catching new treasures and protecting species underneath it from the shade provided. Summer has always been the biggest inspiration for me and no doubt it was for this Reef print.

How do you balance being an artist with your family life?

Oh, this is a question asked by many. I think balancing the two is impossible. For me at least, it's a natural blend of both. My kids love being in my studio. My husband is the supportive ear to all my dreams. It's a beautiful blend of doodling while I'm cooking (and probably burning dinner) and popping in "mama's shop" for a Saturday paint session. There is most certainly an ebb and flow to it all, of course, but I'd like to think it's all one big beautiful story intertwined and weaved from the same cloth.

Favorite place to travel? 

Oh anywhere near water. My family lives a few hours from the Gulf Coast, so it's an easy skip, hop, and a jump away. I adore the slower summer months and we jet to find the closest waters any chance we get.

I know you also teach online, tell us a little about that!

This is a somewhat new adventure but I have found such an unexpected joy from teaching others through my Skillshare classes. After college, I invested in a near century-old letterpress that I still use today. I launched a fine art wedding stationery business where I'd work one-on-one with some of the country's leading wedding planners and vendors. It was a steep learning curve. In early 2019, I decided to retire that portion of my business and focus solely on my art as we welcome our third little one soon. But printmaking, entrepreneurship, and stationery is what rooted my first love in the creative business and wanted to see that live on. So I launched four Skillshare classes from letterpress printing, branding a fine art wedding stationery business, and creative entrepreneurship strategies.

In 2020, I'll be launching more courses that focus on sustainable art practices, licensing your work, and creating art that you and your buyers can connect with. It's been such an honor to watch my Skillshare students take what I wish I would have known early on and grow their creative businesses at a much faster rate than I did!

Why are you excited to work with us on Kaleido Concepts travel products?

As a collector of luggage and bags and weekenders and totes, it was an easy fit. My own inspiration derives so much from my coastal travels and I feel that same sense of serenity throughout Kaleido Concept's products. I love a brand where I can pick the company out of a lineup based on the aesthetics and Kaleido Concepts has that cohesive feel to their designs and I'm honored to stand next to the other artists and designers that have played a small role in Kaleido Concept's amazing company.

What are some of your must-have travel essentials?

I will, hands-down, always travel with a backpack. Whether it's a backpack alone or the rest of my bags plus a backpack, a backpack is always in tow. For me, backpacks can be used for my go-to essentials. I've always used them for car trips, diaper/kid bags, a visit to the coffee shop with my ipad or a book... Backpacks are my go-to-pick. I love having bigger tote bags for easy access storage, like a day at the beach. Tote bags are great for quick grabs. ...and because I love tiny things, smaller storage bags, like KC's packing cubes, are great to store accessories or even your traveling art supplies!

As a mom, what are some art techniques or materials that you use with your kids?

My little ones are both perfectionists. When they draw or paint, they get super frustrated if their vision didn't turn out exactly as imagined. I noticed this from an early age so I always try to teach them the beauty of imperfection. An unintended paint stroke can easily become part of the main image. My daughter loves to paint what she has dubbed "bloppy flowers" ...where you put blops of paint on the paper or canvas, then go back with the finer detail or pen strokes and make it look more like a flower.

I think my biggest recommendation for parents or caregivers hoping to instill art practices within their children is to get a set of quality materials. You don't have to spend a ton of money to find some decent materials. However, I have found that the paints and brushes and markers specifically made for kids lead to frustrating results because of the lower quality. Invest just a tad bit more in some better materials and you'll find your kids enjoying the process and understanding how to use those materials with a much better experience.

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