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San Francisco Textile Designer, Martha Oakes

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A few months back, I came across Martha's Instagram and was amazed. Her watercolors are inspired by the natural landscapes of the places she's lived - from the English countryside to Martha's Vineyard to San Francisco. Her calming watercolor patterns are sold as originals, prints, and most recently, textiles for the home. We're honored to include Martha Oakes in our curated collection of handcrafted goods. Grab a cup of coffee and dive into Martha's world as an artist living in San Francisco, California. And, to view the full collection of goods, click here.

Martha Oakes, artist and textile designer of San Francisco, California

An original watercolor by Martha Oakes, ready for hanging

Designer, Martha Oakes

Tell us a little about your background and how you got into watercolors.

I have been painting since I could hold a paintbrush, but I really harnessed my passion for it when I took watercolor classes as a child in London. I studied architecture & design at CU-Boulder, where I received my bachelor’s degree in environmental design. I knew very early on that working within the realm of design was a must for me, so after working for a couple design firms and most recently as store designer for a retail company, I thought it would be fun and appropriate to start something on my own. I love interior design and I love painting, so the idea of a textile business for the home just came to fruition quite naturally.

How would you describe your business?

It’s about bringing the outdoors inside. It’s about creating simple, abstract representations of objects in nature and turning them into fun, not too serious patterns that can be used to enhance your living space. I am just starting, so it’s an evolution!

What is your favorite part of being an artist and entrepreneur?

I would have to say simply being able to make things with my hands every day. I would be painting and designing regardless of having the intention to sell, so now I get to do what I love and share with the community. I would also say that I enjoy the problem solving element to starting and running your own business; each day feels like a mini breakthrough (well, not every day, but let’s pretend).

Indigo Ocean Beach - a watercolor inspired by San Francisco's coast

When you're in a creative rut, where do you look for inspiration?

I like to get outside and travel! I am always looking around and snapping photos on my phone. I am constantly finding inspiration for new patterns and colors almost anywhere, whether it’s a cool shell while walking on the beach, a unique pattern on a leaf or an interesting glaze on a piece of pottery at a local boutique.

What do you love about living and working in Sausalito, California?

The endless outdoor activities and views! When I am not painting or working, you can probably find me on a trail run somewhere in the Marin Headlands, so having that right outside my door is ideal. I lived in a lot of different places growing up, so I am now happy to say that the bay area is officially home.

Pillows for your home, with Martha's beautiful watercolor designs on the front

If you could do any other occupation, what would it be?

My sister and I ask each other this question all the time! My answer always changes. It may be hard to beat what I am currently doing, but I do think Anthony Bourdain has a pretty great gig - he gets to travel the world and eat amazing food. Realistically though, I would love to design a restaurant one day. I think there’s something very special about creating a space in which people can have a good meal with friends and family.

What is your favorite artist in any field, living or dead?

I really like Milton Avery, Matisse and Andrew Wyeth.

What is next?

Lots of exciting things in the pipeline. In addition to a whole new set of patterns that I am currently working on, I plan to expand my textile line to include bedding and wallpaper. Stay tuned!

Shop all Martha Oakes products here