Minneapolis Artist Cait Courneya Launches Home Goods Line


Framed prints from the new home goods line by Minneapolis artist Cait Courneya 

by Jahna Peloquin (images courtesy Cait Courneya) 

Artists putting their artwork onto products is nothing new—in 2001, Marc Jacobs arguably pioneered the trend when he brought on famous contemporary artist Stephen Sprouse to embellish some of Louis Vuitton’s iconic monogram bags in his distinctive graffiti style. But recently, a wave of artists are striking a balance between the fine and commercial art worlds, creating original works alongside pattern and product designs and blurring the line between fine art, pattern design, product design, and illustration.

Cait Courneya is part of this emerging group of Minneapolis-based artist-designer-illustrators, which also includes Kate Worum and Ashley Mary. Courneya is known for her whimsical fashion illustrations, which can be found on her calendars and notecards, and her bold, brush-stroke paintings and prints that are inspired by nature.​

Unlike many other artist-designer-illustrators, Courneya was first drawn to illustration while studying fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in L.A. She returned to Minneapolis, where she went from providing custom fashion illustrations for wedding invitations and retailers, to being enlisted for commissioned work including wall murals, fine art, event and venue design renderings, logo design and branding, hand lettering, and various commercial projects. Her prints and cards were also sold in Target’s “Made in MN” pop-up at its Nicollet Mall flagship this past fall.

Recently, the artist launched her first line of home goods—a collection of gift wrap paper, art prints, throw pillows (featuring plush velvet backing), and tea towels, available in three different prints—under the Cait Courneya label. It’s not the designer’s first foray into product design: In 2015, she collaborated with local branding company, MaeMae & Co., on a tropical-inspired capsule collection of throw pillows and prints, and last year, she partnered with Solid Manufacturing Co. on a stylish collection of hand-painted leather accessories.

Shop the new Cait Courneya home goods line, along with her collection of prints, original artwork, note cards, and calendars, at this Thursday’s pop-up at Gray Home + Lifestyle (10 a.m.–5 p.m. @ 366 Water St., Excelsior), and at her website, caitcourneya.com.

Cait Courneya gift wrap, $11.95 per roll @ caitcourneya.com

How did the idea to create a home goods line come about?

“Earlier this year, I was having a conversation with a friend about my business, and how I felt a little overwhelmed by all the directions I could take it. She asked me a really simple question: ‘What do you like doing the most with your art?’ It seems like the most obvious question to ask yourself, but when you are immersed in your own busy business, sometimes you forget to ask yourself those simple questions. I realized that my favorite thing about my job is when I get to put my illustrations and art on everyday products. The collaborations that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of have been so inspiring and life-giving for me. That conversation led me to decide to pursue a home goods line. I love interior design and have been passionate about textiles since college, where I studied fashion design. The whole process of product development is so magical for me. It was a natural evolution for me to transfer my art and illustration skills to home goods.”

What is the aesthetic inspiration behind the three prints for the line?  

“I wanted to create something that was very ‘me.’ My own home has lots of indigo and gray, along with rich fabrics like leather, velvet, and faux fur. My style is definitely a bit on the masculine side, so the patterns and prints I created were more androgynous in nature. I am also always thinking about what my customer would want, and so I look at trends and ways to make them my own. Velvet was so strong this fall, and I knew that I wanted to incorporate it into the collection. I created an inspiration board that was filled with imagery that I loved, but also had a strong singular voice that would help me keep the collection focused.”

Are you selling the collection anywhere other than your website & this weekend’s pop-up at Gray?

“Right now, it is only available on my website and any pop-ups that I will be doing this winter. I am exploring the option for wholesale down the road, but I wanted to keep this first collection small so that I could learn first, and grow it later.”

Is the line limited-edition? Do you plan on releasing additional home collections in the future?

“Yes and Yes. I only made a small amount of inventory for this first collection. When it’s gone, it’s gone! I definitely have plans for another collection next spring/summer.”

What else is new for you? Any big plans for 2018?

“I am so excited about 2018! I have several collaborations in the works for the spring, and can’t wait to create my next home goods collection. I am still freelancing as an illustrator, and have so many amazing clients that dream up really special projects for me. I feel like this next year is going to be really instrumental is shaping the direction of my brand moving forward, and I can’t wait to watch it grow.”

Cait Courneya throw pillows, $69.95 each @ caitcourneya.com

Cait Courneya tea towels, $24.95 each @ caitcourneya.com

Cait Courneya gift wrap, $11.95 per roll @ caitcourneya.com

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