Meet Our Artists

DID YOU KNOW: The beautiful, colorful designs that decorate Z Wraps were all created by women! We’re delighted to introduce two of them: our newest artist, and the very first artist we worked with. Check out these amazing ladies!

Susy Pilgrim: Our Original Set of Signature Designs!

Susy Pilgrim sitting at her studio desk in her light and bright studio, excitedly holding up a bunting or garland of colorful squares
Meet Susy Pilgrim! Susie and her husband, Keith Waters, are the creative forces behind PilgrimWaters, a home lifestyle company they established together in 2012 that specializes in creating unique modern textiles and small furniture pieces, drawing exclusively from Susy’s artwork in their designs. At Z Wraps, Susy holds a special and irreplaceable place in our hearts: she was the first artist we ever worked with to create our unique designs, and she is the mastermind behind our original Signature collection. We love her designs as the foundation of our brand, because they perfectly capture the beauty and stylishness that we wanted to infuse into a sustainable home product. We recently “sat down” (over the Internet) with a few questions for Susy about her artistic inclinations; check out her interview below!

Tell us about your start with visual art. Has it been a lifelong passion project? Did you study art in a formal setting? What was your creative foundation like?
I have drawn since I held a pencil. I was always to be found in the art room somewhere. I loved art school in London, where I was specializing in printed textiles.

How did you get into illustration specifically? What do you enjoy about creating illustrations that get turned into designs?
At one time I thought illustration was just illustrating children’s books, when actually it turns out this discipline covers many areas. I became an illustrator because I loved reading and telling the story with the pictures.

Editorial Illustration was “my thing” for years. I started out with that by working for publications such as the Boston Globe, Gourmet magazine, Travel + Leisure magazine, and local brands to me, like Iggy’s Bread of the World. I’ve illustrated for newspapers and magazines all around the USA. Eventually this evolved into working with some big brands such as Crate & Barrel, even a large mural for the NYC Public Library!

At heart, I am a practical person. I love form and function. So, mix all of that together and seeing as I was tuned into textiles particularly, thus began, the online home of our designs on a variety of textile items from apparel and homewares to furniture.

What themes run through your work? What are some of your favorite creative topics or subjects?
I’m drawn to natural forms, hand lettering, florals, colour- that sort of thing.

How do you feel about your designs on Z Wraps?
I am happy my designs are on Z Wraps! Fantastic to be on an earth friendly product with integrity.

What do you do in your free time to recharge?
I like to walk my dog, knit, sew, paint. My creative, maker-activities are a central part of my everyday life, not just “for work”- I don’t leave it at the office.

What is your favorite way to use a Z Wrap?
I love wrapping cheeses, homemade bread, or covering a bowl in the fridge or for transport.

Katie Vernon: Our Newest Artist Behind Our Kid-Inspired Line!

Illustrator Katie Vernon pictured in her colorful studio with her paintings behind her in the background

Now that you’ve met Susy, we want you to meet the newest member of the Z Wraps Artist family: heeeere’s Katie Vernon! Katie is the designer behind our new 2021 line of kid-inspired designs and we thought her colorful, playful, and delightfully un-serious style was the perfect match--even before we saw the adorable set of designs she made for us! Read Katie’s thoughts about her work below.

Tell us about your start with visual art. Has it been a lifelong passion project? Did you study art in a formal setting? Tell us a little about your creative foundations.
I was always an artsy kid and was fortunate that my mom encouraged my creativity. Whether it was the bin of old slips for dress-up, participating in the grocery store coloring contest, or just letting me make a mess in the basement, I felt free to create from a very young age. For college I attended The University of Dayton and studied visual communications and design with a focus on illustration. Funny enough, studying art as an undergrad made me want to not become an artist. It would take me about 8 years until illustration really came back into my life.

How did you get into illustration specifically? What do you enjoy about creating illustrations that get turned into designs?
While cycling through a few wonderfully random jobs (book binder, wine pourer, outdoor adventure guide, florist) I began creating art again on the side. It was the start of Etsy and there was a real flourishing in the illustration world that tug at my heart. My husband and I were thinking about adding a kid into our mix and being able to illustrate from home and create my own hours sounded ideal. I managed a trickle of illustration jobs and when our daughter was two, I became represented by my illustration agent and have been pretty much full-time illustrating for the last 6 years. What I love about illustrating products in particular is that you know someone is going to enjoy those little drawings or paintings many times over. Bringing a little bit of beauty and joy into an everyday item is incredible!

What does your creative process look like? Where do you find inspiration, and what all happens between inspiration and final design? This might be new information/new concepts to >90% of our customers.
My process can differ depending on the assignment or job I'm working on. But one thing that I come back to a lot is saying, "I'm just going to draw (fill in the blank) right now." Then I can just draw and paint trees (for example) with as many different materials as I have within arms reach. After the typical green trees, I'll paint a pink one- why not?! Maybe a polka-dot one- sure! Basically I try to have fun and lean into the creative discovery/mad scientist energy. And maybe those trees will look great when I scan and arrange them in Photoshop, and maybe they will turn into a pattern that ends up on an amazing product. You never know until you sit down and make some art!

Do you have any kind of daily or routine artistic practice that keeps you creating even when you're not working on a project? What does that look like?
I try to create something in my sketchbook everyday, but there are days where I get more out of going for a walk, scanning a local thrift store, or just making lists for the next day. It's also important to find how to trick yourself into creating. At the moment I find getting out bits of collage to use in my sketchbook makes facing the blank page more exciting.

How do you feel about your designs on Z Wraps?
I ADORE them! They all came from that fun, energetic, place of creation.

What is your favorite way to use a Z Wrap?
They are so perfect for that half a lemon sitting around. I also love them for wrapping up the wraps I make for lunch if I want to eat at a park or on the go.

What is your favorite medium, why? is this the medium you started out working with? How did the progression happen?
Anything that creates a texture that can't easily be replicated - splotchy ink, grainy pencils, etc.
What would you tell young budding artists wanting to follow in your big beautiful shoes?
Comparison is the thief of joy, create what makes you happy.

What are your thoughts on sustainability? Do you have any tips for reducing one's foot print, or care to share what you do or what role sustainability plays in your life?
Sustainability definitely needs to be at the front of everyone's mind. A few things we do at home: we removed our grass from our yard and planted native plants (we live in Arizona, so water conservation is very important), we use an e-bike when we can for getting around, and we stay informed on local and state politics so we can use our vote to elect politicians that prioritize the environment.

What advice do you have for folks who think they aren't creative?
Creativity is like any skill or muscle- it can be exercised and strengthened if you put the work in.

We hope these interviews have inspired you to add a little creativity to your life and enjoy all the beauty around you--especially in your fridge, lunchbox, backpack, or snack table. Anywhere you use your Z Wraps!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published