artist spotlight: Kate Akatombo

woodland-tale-sarahshermansamuel-sI’ve been trying to carve out more time to highlight more makers and artists I love because little finds like Woodland Tale make me so happy! I remember when I had just graduated from college with my graphic design degree and I thought my only option to make money was to go corporate and be a studio designer at an ad agency (which I inevitably did until I woke up and realized there is so much more out there). One evening I fell into an online rabbit hole discovering makers, artists, and designers all making a living doing what they love, creating their own work. I grew up in a non-internet world so this was the first time I really discovered what it can do for creatives.

Now the internetz are over saturated with everyone and their mother making something, etsy has a whole lotta incredible shops and a whole lotta not so incredible but when I stumbled upon these critters, I had to make them mine, I mean Archer’s of course (but really mine).

woodland-tale-sarahshermansamuel-2sarchandwoodlandtalewoodland-tale-sarahshermansamuel-3sKate Akatombo hand stitches these little plushies under the name Woodland Tale out of her studio in Ukraine. The detail is incredible and how adorable are those little faces? I reached out to her to answer a few questions about how she came about making the adorable guys so without further ado…

SSS: Tell me about your creative journey. (background, schooling, previous work etc.)

KA: I always was somehow connected with handmade. My mother was a terrific knitter (and so was her mom and her sisters), my other GrandMa taught me crocheting, sewing and, of course, embroidery of all kinds. Later I was lucky to work in a small retail hobby shop, where I had to learn a lot of various decorative techniques – and this was the very time when I finally understood that working with threads and fabrics is my thing.

SSS: How would you describe your aesthetic? Is your work inspired by anything in particular?

KA: I’m very bound to everything natural and all things inspired by nature. I rarely use flashy, bright colors, prefer cotton and linen textiles and have a dream about naturally dyed fabrics, made by myself. In the world full of machine-made things, in the life of high pace I really strive to something real and thoughtful. This is also true for my little critters. They take time to be made, but every stitch on their small bodies is laid with pleasure of slow life.

SSS: Please share some insight into your design process. How do you come up with the animal shapes, color selections etc.

KA: I have to confess that the very first critters made were significantly inspired by illustrations for children’s books, mostly by Japanese and Spanish artists. I was really amazed how they come up to creating images – very close to the child’s doodles, but still with so much character and feel for color. So I tried to just draw simple as well – but on fabrics.

Most of my softies are 2D, they are flat – as if a drawing turned into a plushie. At the moment, I’m trying to go on with it and make more complicated patterns, vary the embroidery stitches, play with shapes too.

I also have a creative escape – my series of blooming friends, bunnies, hedgehogs and moose deers, embroidered with flowers on their bodies. They have basic shapes, but the embroidery is always different and unique. I really loved stitching them this winter, when starving for spring time, I was designing gentle blooms and leaves.

See all the goodies in her shop here: Woodland Tale

Images by Sarah Sherman Samuel

Rug is from Frances Loom

  • This is lovely. What a beautiful shop. I also graduated with a degree in graphic design and did the ad agency thing for 6 years. But once things took a spin, I was able to open my online shop and I have loved every moment of it since 2009. Love this post!

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