How I Got Here
THEM: “You need a blog.”
ME: “Yes, I know. I am a small business owner and I need a lot of things…”
THEM: “It’s a critical link in your #marketing.”
ME: “Yes, I know, but I have no idea what to write about…”
THEM: “Everyone has something of value to say and you never know who you will impact.”
ME: “How will I ever find time for that? You do know that I am a one woman show, right? And that’s on good days. On bad days it’s me, myself and I, and we are arguing with each other…”
THEM: “You just have to start. It will get easier once you start.”
ME: “Alright already! I give...”
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture.
So, hi there. I’m Erica Ridout and you’ve just been given an insider’s view of my head. Welcome to the B.Goods blog. I am finally taking “their” advice and starting! I thought I would begin by telling you a little bit about, well, me and how I got here.
I come from long lines of very #creative people. It appears that I may have inherited a few of their creative genes, but for a long time, I did not #believe that. Key word—believe. Here are just a few examples.
Amongst my father’s things I have a box of fairly detailed paintings and drawings that had to have been created in when he was quite young, I am guessing seven or eight. I never knew these existed until well after his death and I wish I knew more about them. They are far better than anything I have ever drawn or painted. He never talked about doing art, but he was a draftsman for part of his career and loved to collect and repurpose things for other uses. My apologies for not having an image to share.
A Distant Cousin
The acclaimed #engraver and printmaker, Paul Landacre, was the nephew of my maternal great grandfather which makes him a distant cousin, I think. I love his attention to detail and feel fortunate to have one of his floral prints in my office on the shelves above my desk.
My maternal grandmother was an art teacher, knitter, potter and sculptor. She made this sweet little bowl that I treasure and use on a regular basis, as it is the perfect size for holding snacks. I don't recall ever seeing her at a potter's wheel, but I do remember her spinning yarn from the sheep on the farm where she and my step-grandfather lived. And she never went anywhere without her knitting bag.
My Aunt Susy
My aunt Susanna Matthay was, among many, many #creative things, an award-winning #quilter. She had some of them displayed in the Oakland, CA museum and was featured in a documentary about women quilters in the U.S. The photo of her was taken later in her life, before she passed away from Alzheimers. The photo she is holding was taken around the time (probably late 70s or early 80s) she was featured in the documentary. The red bird quilt was a favorite and one of the quilts featured in the film. The image at the right is a portion of a quilt that was never completed.
Other than sewing and a bit of knitting, which Aunt Susy taught me, I did not feel I had any of the above-mentioned #creative skills as I grew up. To this day I still can’t draw in perspective or illustrate people. I certainly could not throw a pot or carve a woodblock with any skill, nor do I desire to. I remember finding art classes somewhat frustrating as I had the bad habit of comparing myself to others who were more talented or simply had more practice (don’t do that!). So, as silly as it sounds to say now, I honestly thought I wasn’t creative. As a young teenager I didn’t know any better and wasn’t passionate enough about any one thing yet.
Accidentally Discovering Design
Everything changed in my senior year of high school when I discovered #graphicdesign. When registering for my senior year classes my goal was to have as little homework as possible. I noticed that my school had a graphic design class. I didn’t fully understand what graphic design was, but my seventeen-year-old brain absolutely understood that the class description read “4-hour class, no textbook.” No textbook? Sweet! That was obviously code for “no homework”. Or so I thought. Naturally, that would leave so much more time for my social life. Or so I thought. After all, I was going to be a big shot senior. I had worked hard and I deserved to have an “easy” year. Well, three weeks into the school year, the #accidentaldiscovery had my full attention. I was hooked on everything graphic design and have been involved in the creative field ever since. To me, design is like solving puzzles—figuring how to get elements to work together and creating visual hierarchy and balance.
I spent years working for others, including 8 years working for a #publishing and design company and 13 years at a design studio. Today, I serve my graphic design clients through the business I started in 2013, Brainstorms Collective.
When I learned surface pattern design during pandemic lockdown, I knew I had a new chapter to add to my creative story, and a place where some of my doodles—which are lovingly referred to as “scribbles”—could transform into fun and useful art. The saucer-like image below is just one example of what started as a #scribble, likely in the margin of some meeting agenda, and was scanned, vectorized and enhanced to become a super-cool flying saucer element in this fun, space-themed #coordinate #pattern that will be included in an upcoming collection.
So, Now You Know How I Got Here
I have definitely embraced my creative genes and am thankful for them everyday—doing creative things is a way for me to both calm and engage my somewhat overactive mind. I call my style “structured whimsy” and hope that you find as much joy in my work as I get from creating it.