Since this blog started, we've been showing you some of our favorite new Kanvas collections, but we haven't really talked about who is behind the Kanvas name.
Maria Kalinowski is the creative force behind Kanvas, Benartex's new division featuring novelty prints and more. And what a force she is! Head into your local quilt shop, and chances are, you'll be able to identify Kanvas prints simply by their fresh, graphic look. From popsicles to beer bottles, and the New York skyline to retro diner prints, you'll find designs that make you smile, ready to be used in your next project. Maria designs fabric lines herself and also works with a select team of artists to create everything Kanvas. She recently spoke about her work and her design process.
Tell us about your background.
Art is not what I do but who I am, I have been painting and drawing since I was a child and come from a long line of dress designers and graphic designers in my family. I never had any question about what I was going to do in my life, it came completely naturally.
My background is formal training in the fine arts. During high school I painted primarily in watercolors, landscapes, barns and was very well known for my florals. During one of my art exhibitions in Connecticut a professor had mentioned that my paintings looked like fabric designs. This is where the idea came to me that maybe I should pursue a career in textile design. I was one of the youngest members of the Ridgefield guild of Artist’s where I participated in many juried art shows, sold and had one-man exhibitions throughout Fairfield County, Connecticut. I then graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in Providence Rhode Island, with a BFA degree in textile design.
Upon graduating I took my first job on 7th Avenue designing women’s fashion as a board artist, and the rest is history.
What do you like best about designing fabric?
I chose fabric design primarily because it is a mix between the fine arts and design. There are no limits to what you can use fabric for these days, and it always surprises me to see how the quilters and manufacturers create products or quilts with my fabrics. Quilting and sewing is a whole other talent in itself. I am awed and amazed at what the quilters create from so many tiny pieces of fabric.
How would you describe your style?
I would say my style is eclectic with an edge. I have a love for designing beautiful elegant more traditional lines, such as my blue horizon peacock as well as my bold, edgy novelties that evoke humor and a definite point of view.
What do you do in your free time?
My free time is limited as I commute to New York from Connecticut and have a 12-year-old son David. He keeps my weekends pretty busy and is the joy of my life. I do love theatre, movies and concerts. But mostly I spend my time entertaining family and friends in my home in Westport.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My mind never rests. I get inspiration from everywhere and am always looking for the next new concepts. I draw from life such as my hero dogs print came from the 10th anniversary of 9/11 that just passed. So TV, world events, movies and magazines are what inspire me. It is endless and can be a bit exhausting because there is no way to turn it off. It is who I am.
Do you name the fabric collections yourself?
We have so much fun naming the fabric collections. Sometimes the names come before I have even conceived the designs and sometimes the groups help give us the names. This is my studio's favorite part.
What else can you tell us about yourself?
I have been told I have a flare for the dramatic that makes me a great storyteller with a comedic edge. People who are not in my close circle don’t see that side of me. Most people think because of my flare for fashion that I live in NYC, but actually I live in a country farmhouse near the beach in Connecticut. I think the solitude after the hustle and bustle of my busy weeks is what rejuvenates me.
Check out Maria's studio...where all the creativity happens!