in partnership
(Image courtesy of Olia Kerzhner).

Artist of the Week: Olia Kerzhner

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
Olia Kerzhner: I have been creating in one way or another my whole life. Particularly I love to create useful practical things, I feel that it is very important to be surrounded by beautiful, artistically created things that we use and touch every day. For example when I was working with pottery, I made myself and my friends dishes, cups, bowls. When I was working with wool I was knitting hats, sweaters and felting slippers.

It’s very exciting for me to be able to scale my creation to real production clothes, make simple and elegant garments out of pure natural fibers and offer them to customers all over the world.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
The first step is envisioning a piece of clothing that is missing in the world. That’s what happened to me with hoodies - I very clearly saw the hoodie I wanted to have, and was surprised when I couldn’t find one like that to buy. It’s like there was a hoodie-shaped void in the world and I realized it was up to me to fill it, to create that perfect hoodie.

Once I have the vision, the engineer in me kicks in and figures out all the necessary steps to bringing my vision to life. I dive deep into learning the craft. For my hoodies I bought several different sewing machines so that I could experiment with different types of stitches and finishes. I played around with different designs, drafted patterns, experimented with natural dyeing, acquired skills and knowledge to become an expert on all aspects of hoodie making.

Then once I have the skills and the expertise, it’s a matter of iterating over and over until I can create the perfect thing, in this case, the perfect hoodie.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
My inspiration comes from the town where I live: Port Townsend, on the Olympic Peninsula. Both the outstanding natural beauty of the area, and the artists and craftsmen who live here. Port Townsend attracts people from all over the world who want to create the best things in life and are unwilling to compromise. Simple, everyday things, like the food we eat, the clothing we wear, the houses we live in. People here want to eat the best quality and freshest food, so they grow it themselves. People want to have lovely houses, so they build their own tiny houses with whatever materials they can afford, and they turn out beautiful. There are so many artists and craftsmen here, Masters of their chosen area that care deeply about making something the best it can be. It's not even about the final result, but the pure joy of the process, of pouring your heart and soul into your creation.

I wanted to express this dedication to quality, craftsmanship, and simple, understated beauty as clothing. I named the brand Kiss The Rain because loving and appreciating the rain is a big part of living here.

Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles etc?
Nature and local artists and craftsmen. The awe-inspiring beauty of mountains, water and forests fill my heart with joy and creativity, and I get so much inspiration from seeing other artists and their work.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
The Vintage Cotton Hoodies I am working on right now are extremely special to me: it’s my first piece of work that I am bringing to a wide audience, a professionally made piece of clothing that people are able to buy commercially.

It’s my first significant contribution to the values I so strongly believe in: natural fibers, supreme craftsmanship, and absolute dedication to quality.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
Everything I see and touch affects me deeply, I’m like a sponge eagerly absorbing life experiences, constantly learning. I traveled quite a lot in my life, lived in different countries, on different continents. Every little thing I come in contact with affects and changes me in ways I could never trace or measure.

But I have to say that moving to Port Townsend is what gave me that extra boost of creativity and freedom to start expressing my art on a bigger scale.

If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
My brand’s website has pictures and articles, or for those who just want pictures, check out Instagram.

What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
Next up is bringing my Vintage Cotton Hoodies to Kickstarter on September 18th! I am super excited about that, and also terrified. I hope I can find enough people who share my passion for simple, elegant, high quality USA-made natural fiber clothes to support my campaign, so that I can keep developing and offering new styles.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
Sorry Seattle, I’m an herbal tea drinker, from the herbs that I grow and forage myself. Current favorites: dandelion root and yarrow.