meet kim piotrowski: our etsy artist of the month

If the seasons inspire our decorating desires, than Kim Piotrowski is the perfect artist for summer. Her prints on Etsy conjure up days spent strolling through gardens and trolling countryside antique barns. Painted on pages from vintage books, Kim’s patterns twirl and spiral like the loveliest in nature, with vibrant colors bursting off sepia-faded paper. We imagine lining an entire small room with a framed collection of her painting. At only $60 each, it would be an affordable, and stunning, undertaking. (Prints even more affordable, at $30.) We asked Kim to tell us a little bit about her artwork, what inspires her, and the place she calls home. Be sure to check out her shop, Kipi at Etsy. More prints are added frequently.

How would you describe your work?

They are largely pattern-based, and are inspired by different textiles or shapes that I see in my day-to-day life. Earlier, my work was much, much larger (7 or 8 foot canvases) and depicted colorful microscopic cellular forms. In college, I was on the pre-med career path then changed my major to art half-way through my studies. I’ve always been artistic, and this was a very passionate choice. I still like to use a lot of dynamic color, and have a scientific feel to my work even though it may not literally feature those earlier biological forms.

When did you start making your prints?
Offering prints is a fairly new development- just about half a year ago. It was a long process to figure out how to get to the sizing and coloring correct, but I finally found a great quality place to work with.

People have always been suggesting that I make reproductions of my work for the purpose of using them on textiles or just to make them more accessible as multiples. The final prints are slightly larger than the originals too. In the next year, I hope to take this idea a little further and make my own scarves, decorative pillows, and other decor items for the home.

How does your home/city/neighborhood inspire you?
Items that can be found in my home in my Moroccan plate collection that I got from traveling through the medinas of Marrakesh and Fez on a family trip back in 2003. I absolutely loved exploring the labyrinthine bazaars and haggling with the vendors even in the 110 degree heat. I brought a duffel bag and filled it with the unique treasures. They are placed prominently in my kitchen, and I love looking at them everyday. After all, I worked really hard for them! I often use an Arabic pattern similar to the pottery as a background and design source for my larger paintings. This same pattern is also in my Moroccan Stars print that is currently in my shop.

My former Brooklyn neighborhood (Greenpoint/Williamsburg) was really inspiring because there was street art all over the place. I love to scout it out and take photos of the unsolicited art. I had favorite spots that got hit all the time with new pieces. Every couple of weeks, I would go out for long walks or bike rides and just photograph anything I could find that was new. I like to document things that will disappear or fade with time. I miss this aspect of Brooklyn, but there are plenty of places out there if you just seek them out. I haven’t quite explored the Bronx yet.

I now live on City Island off of the Bronx now, and it is completely different from Brooklyn. Living here gives me the access to nature that I was craving for a long time. Nautical themes and sea motifs are everywhere. I used to think boats, sea monsters, and starfish were kind of kitschy, but after spending time here on sailboats and living so close to the water, I see how easily it can become part of your decor. I think our fascination with the ocean will always be there, and it is slowly sneaking into the way I decorate my home.

What kinds of artwork would one find on the walls of your house?
I’ve hung a lot of my favorite pieces of my own art (old and new), but I also consider myself to be somewhat of a collector. I have a very quirky eye, and nothing really matches at all. I bought a lot of prints by Betsey Walton and Julianna Swaney on Etsy a few years ago. I also really like the work of Martha Rich who is from my native Philadelphia area. However, my main interest these days continues to be street art. I like having things around my home that I could find plastered around my old Brooklyn neighborhood or downtown Manhattan. In some cases, I like knowing the individual behind what the police consider to be an art crime. I have work by ROA, Dark Cloud, Sweet Toof, Skewville and Stikman around my apartment.

Describe your decorating style.
It’s very eclectic, but it’s all the stuff that makes me happy. I like antiques, kitsch, retro, modern and things that I’ve brought home from my travels. The piece usually comes with a story that I can tell about it. I like to display my artwork and collection of things usually in groups. Aside from artwork, I also have many devotional objects – sacred heart milagros and byzantine icons that are indicative of my family background and also my graduate thesis. It was about the influence of the Byzantine world on Modern Art through the work of two of the most recognizable artists: Matisse and Picasso.

To learn more about Kim Piotrowski, visit her Etsy store.

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Now on top of loving your art, I want to read your thesis. Hmm.

I love this work, actually, it’s the kind of things that by looking at them you think that you could do the same thing and you can do as good as the author and that it’s easy, and you also start regretting why you didn’t think about before. The thing is this kind of art needs a lot of inspiration because you are not only painting something new you are also creating a totally new art. And it’s not only about mastering painting skills, it’s about having the courage to express yourself in a different way.