Let's go back to the beginning.

Studio Session

Welcome to CREO, where See Three Studios founder, Sarah Weerth Pinkerton, waxes poetic on her favorite subjects: art + design, creative inspiration, advocacy for causes, and life in the studio (and Mexico). We visited with Sarah to ask her about See Three Studios, how it came to be, and how she creates her signature patterns.

What was the inspiration behind See Three Studios?

See Three Studios had been percolating for well over a decade – simmering on the back burner while I was teaching. But 2020 was the scary, uncertain, heart-breaking jolt I needed to find clarity and purpose.

It really started with gratitude. Let me back up a little…I consider myself an outgoing introvert. Perhaps you could call me a homebody. Not perhaps, for certain. My home has always been my sanctuary, my sacred space, the place where I refuel my energy. So fast forward to 2020, and when the world received stay-at-home mandates and took a collective breath, I leaned in without a problem. My husband and I secured our Costco TP and prosecco, and we happily hunkered down.

Well, weeks turned into years and I became increasingly aware of how lucky we were to not just to have shelter and food, but a work-in-progress home that we adore – a space that inspires us with vibrant colors, magpie patterns, eclectic artwork, luscious plants, and personal mementos, all curated to reflect both of our personalities.

So, one night after a furniture rearranging session I realized that I want to create things that help people express themselves in their own personal space no matter its size, its location, or its perceived potential. I would pivot from years of an uninspiring freelance hustle to intentional design: See Three Studios will create patterns for the spaces people covet, but in a way that gives them more creative control.

Twyla Tharp Quote

How did you get your start in design?

My love of patterns started pretty young in my mom’s sewing room. She had stacks and stacks of fabric in literally every crevice of the room. While she sewed our clothes, I would sit on the floor and unfold each piece to look at the different designs, rub my hands over the textures and make my own color palettes. But it wasn’t until I saw the Henri Matisse retrospective in the early 90’s at the MoMA that everything clicked – I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I started studying interior architecture, but then switched to visual communications and fiber arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I had dreams of designing textiles for interiors. But instead, I detoured and became a teaching artist for 20 years - an experience that continues to inform See Three Studios’ mission, values and style. Moving to Mexico was the perfect opportunity to circle back to that decades-long percolating dream.

You mentioned that teaching has inspired your style – how so?

My love of art (and design) history has really shaped my illustration style. I am inspired just as much by a Saul Bass layout as I am Moorish tiles, which I think is why I use collage so much. It allows me to draw from multiple sources, recontextualize them, and tell a new story that reflects my time and place. I love to juxtapose not only images, but techniques and materials as well, and then ground it all with color and pattern.

With that said I do have constants: religious/mythological iconography and the visual language of cultures around the world (particularly from places where cultures collide). I believe a good teacher is a constant learner. I’m find inspiration through social observation – particularly taking note of what’s missing and whose story isn’t being told. I pay attention to social movements, what’s happening in the art world, undiscovered travel destinations, those things inform not only the collections, but the causes they benefit as well.

How do you then jump from idea to final pattern?

I use my camera like a sketchbook - recording found patterns, textures, shapes, or colors that most people don’t take the time to see. Then I either create individual motifs or a color palette and build from there. I’ll spend a couple days playing with materials - cutting motifs out of black paper, making inky contour drawings, printing textures, just experimenting really. I work in a digital mixed media style - with collage & printmaking my go-to analog mediums. The final composition grows from there and eventually all the elements are digitized and brought into Illustrator or Photoshop as the final step.

Give me five words that best describe See Three Studios’ style.

Inspired, narrative, graphic, expressive, color-forward.

What’s next for See Three Studios?

Right now, we’re focused on building our pattern library. There are so many pattern and collection ideas brewing in my head. We’re also focusing on building our resource space – tutorials, POD directory, and pattern pairing inspiration.
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