My name is Julia Rinaolo and I am a part of the Class of 2019. This summer I am fortunate enough to be interning with Betsy Olmsted. Betsy is a watercolor textile designer based in Saratoga Springs, and it is even better that she is a Skidmore grad! I found this internship through the Entrepreneurial Artist program run by Elizabeth Dubben, which I am heavily involved in.
At Skidmore I am a Studio Art major with a concentration in both graphic design and fiber arts. I have been taking graphic design classes since my sophomore year, however my passion for fiber arts just started last semester in the introductory class. This internship perfectly combines graphic design and fiber arts, while teaching me extensively about what it is like to run a small business. Betsy works out of her home studio and runs her business by herself, so I have been able to work with her one-on-one all summer. Some tasks that I have completed this summer are designing her a Fall 2018 lookbook, traveling with her to Blueprint/Surtex which are surface design shows in New York City, I completed a ‘dye library’ of all of the different dyes in her dye kitchen, and created hand lettered work for her. I run my own business, Triangle & Poppy which revolves around hand lettering and Betsy has been able to utilize this skill of mine through her social media and even a new tea towel design. We also ran an indigo dye workshop at her house, traveled to the Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck, NY, where she sold her products as well as gave an instructional presentation on block printing, and I have been working on increasing her followers on social media.
My favorite thing that we have done together so far was our trip down to New York. While she was there for longer, I was there for two days and one night. Not only did I get to help run her table at Blueprint, but I got to walk around Surtex and the National Stationery Show (NSS) which were both run out of the Javits Center. NSS was particularly interesting and helpful to me since I run a business based on hand lettering. I got to chat with other hand letterers, meet my favorite watercolor artist, and learn so much about the stationery industry itself. I think that the biggest take away from it is that the stationery market is extremely over saturated. There were hundreds and hundreds of booths selling cards that looked very similar to their neighbor’s. It also made me realize that not only do I want to do wedding stationery, but I want to create a product that isn’t stationery related to make myself stand out.
Betsy and I still have a few more projects to work on before the summer is done including another trip to New York for a wholesale show out of Javits Center. Also I am working on designing my own fabric collection, and learning more dye techniques.
I am extremely grateful to Skidmore College Career Development Center, the Entrepreneurial Artist Program, and my donor, Molly Haley. I would not have been able to participate and learn in this environment without the financial assistance. I was able to spend many hours with Betsy, and instead of working a different job on my time off, I used what I learned in the studio and applied it to my own business. I will continue working alongside Betsy into the fall; I have learned so much which will greatly impact my future endeavors.