Friday, December 21, 2012

Flat Vernacular

My name is Katherine Stankewicz and Iʼm a Senior Drawing Major with a Printmaking Concentration. Over the summer of 2012 I was one of the two interns working for Flat Vernacular, a Brooklyn based wallpaper company. Flat Vernacular specializes in original hand-drawn and hand-printed wallpapers. As a student focused on drawing and printmaking, I knew that I wanted an internship that specifically utilized printmaking processes as an element in their production. Flat Vernacular was a perfect match for me being a company that specialized in both of my fields of study. 

I discovered Flat Vernacular through MICAʼs “Connect Internship + Career Fair.” Flat Vernacular was one of the fifty companies participating on campus during the event. While attending the fair I met the companyʼs founders, Payton Cosell Turner and Brian Kaspr, and had the opportunity to introduce myself, ask questions about the company and internship, and hand in an artist package I had created through my Professional Practices course. I participated in MICAʼs “Prepare for the Fair” workshops which gave me the preparation and confidence I needed to have a successful experience at the fair. Over the next week after the fair I received an email from the company requesting to have a phone interview and next thing I knew I was going to Brooklyn! My Professional Practices course and the workshops I attended gave me the guidance and support I needed to land my internship.

While working at Flat Vernacular my duties often consisted of assisting alongside of Payton Turner and Brian Kaspr while completing the daily tasks in the studio. I also worked with another intern and MICA student, Molly Mercer, and the two of us completed many tasks together as well. We worked on tasks including product production, packaging, and advertising.  Brian taught me how screen-print during my internship, and I even occasionally printed myself. Payton taught Molly and I new things as well, giving us insight into the business world and sharing her own experiences she had with operating Flat Vernacular. Payton taught Molly and I how to create a pattern by hand and digitally, processes that she learned herself and utilizes in creating her signature designs. Two major events that Molly and I participated in were the ICFF and the photo shoot during our internship. We were representatives in the Flat Vernacular booth at the ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) held at the Javits Center in Manhattan.

We got the chance to speak with other major representatives of other companies who had come to the convention center in search of taking on other new companies and using their products on a large business scale. This event gave us real world experience in the interior design world, and helped us develop our communication skills. We also participated in Flat Vernacularʼs photo-shoot over the course of a weekend. We created a fake wall outdoors, which we used to mount each pattern onto for documentation and these photos were ultimately be used for the companyʼs new website. This part of the internship was my favorite, we used many props such as paint and smoke bombs to create a complex and exciting photograph. We gained experience in working collaboratively as a group under a time constraint to complete a large project. We also helped in the experimental portion of the photo-shoot, coming up with ideas for props and experimenting with different products to determine what would work best in front of the camera.

Interning for Flat Vernacular was more than I could have ever hoped for. I was exposed to the interior design world and saw the many possibilities for how a printmaker can fit into a design oriented business. I have a clearer understanding of the kind of career that I would hope to have in the future and experienced real-world applications with the practices Iʼm studying. I left this internship with new printmaking skills, a deep understanding for a self-operated business, exposure to the design-world, and in the process I made some really great friends.