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Illustrator Spotlight: Mary Matson's Striped Shirts & Surprises

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Illustrator Spotlight: Mary Matson

Mary Matson

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Graphic designer and illustrator Mary Matson has a painter's eye for elevating the simple elements of the everyday to something a bit more whimsical -- a technique she's used in drawings and graphics for Kate Spade, Jack Spade and Mister Mort, and others. The perfect example: the striped shirt prints she created for her friend, Chance founder Julia Leach.

The limited-edition artwork, which is being sold to raise money for the Japan Society's Earthquake Fund, takes one of the most dominating trends of the past few seasons and created pieces that feel more like abstractions.

Matson, whose sketches are inspired by "seeing surprises," approaches her trade with a sense of wonder and curiosity. "A series or project usually starts with an idea, or by something just catching my eye, like a pile of striped shirts on the floor that look like an ocean, a group of socks that look like a school of fish, or a tiny overlooked doodle in my notebook," she said.

It's an aesthetic and attitude that gels with a cadre of fashion and pop culture insiders that just want to go back to the beauty of the basics. Besides Chance, Matson identifies her personal style with brands like Whit, 45RPM, Matt Singer, and Hermès. "I have always been attached classic, timeless, iconic things with a personal touch. I think it shows in what I make and what I wear."

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