Makers To Know: Jess Bruggink

This week, I'm giving the spotlight to Jess Bruggink, a pattern designer and abstract artist whose work is filled with bright colors and positivity. Read on to find out more about her! 

Everyone takes a different path to starting their own business. How did your shop begin? 

I graduated in 2008 with a degree in graphic design. Between that time and now I’ve discovered my love for working with my hands and getting away from the computer screen. Lately I’ve been all about experimenting with watercolor, painted typography and hand made elements. Painting has become a way for me to relax and let happy accidents happen. I really can’t get enough of it.  I’m lucky to work for a stationery company where I get to incorporate both graphic design and fine art. 

I decided to start my own shop after receiving some good feedback on watercolor and typography pieces I shared on Instagram. Instagram has been such a great place to post what I’m working on and push myself to keep creating and keep honing my skills. It has been an awesome way to guage interest in a style or series as well. Things that get the best reception will usually end up in the shop as a print. Instagram is also such a great way to meet other artists and see what they’re up to!

Your work is abstract and playful with bright colors and patterns. What drew you into this painting style? 

This is a fun question because I’ve never really thought about what drew me to this style. I think I’ve always been a little obsessed with color and pattern. I enjoy finding the balance in mixing patterns or unexpected colors. Large scale with small patterns. Neutrals with brights. Or sometimes breaking all the rules if a combination just feels right. When I pull out the watercolor or guoache paints, my first step is to pick a color palette. It’s my favorite part. 


What was one of the biggest challenges that you faced as you started your own business? How did you overcome that? 

I think the hardest part has been defining my art style. It’s been helpful as a surface designer to form a recognizable style and make sure it stands out from other work out there. The more I make, the more I’ve started to notice a pattern in what feels like “me”. 

Do you have any big goals or dream collaborators? In a perfect world, where would you like to see your artwork in a few years?

As I dip my toes into painting and more fine art, I think it would be really cool to see my art in fine art galleries. It’s a world that I’m not really familiar with yet but I’m interested in learning more about.  

When you’re not working or painting, what are you up to? 

I love cooking, exploring our city (Minneapolis), working on our house, eating delicious food.

I’m married to another designer/painter so pretty much all of our leisure time is spent creating in some way. Right now we’ve been really into gardening. It’s been so fun to learn the basics of growing our own food and preserving things to enjoy in the winter. 

I also have a dog and a pet rabbit that are pretty adorable and ridiculous.  

Can you share three of your favorite handmade shops or artists?  

I’m inspired by tons of different artists and makers. There are so many people out there making new exciting things.  I love that I live in a city with so many talented creatives. Here a few of my favorites from Minneapolis. 

ross bruggink
Of course, I’ve got to plug my husband. But I am seriously really inspired by what he makes. He mostly focuses on design and illustration but lately has been experimenting with large scale abstract paintings. His style is so different from mine and I am always amazed by what he comes up with. 

alea toussaint
Alea is a graphic designer and pattern-maker.  Her patterns made from real objects were a big hit on instagram and she created a series of free pattern downloads for Design Sponge a while back. I love how dramatic they feel. 

mae mae
I love the work of Megan Gonzalez at Mae Mae. She creates really lovely simple branding and custom wedding stationery. 

Find Jess in these places: