How a life of design became the design for life for Annie Kruse, founder of childrenswear brand Wild Boys & Girls
Words Helen Baron
Helen Baron: Why did you become a graphic designer?
Annie Kruse: I grew up in rural Northern Germany, mostly hanging out at my grandparents’ chicken farm. This was in the good old days before the internet and mobile phones and I was busy helping by collecting, washing, weighing and packaging these beautiful smooth objects. Legend has it I never dropped an egg – at least nobody ever saw me. I loved art. I loved building and creating. I had a vivid imagination. Inevitably, I was bored but developed a healthy curiosity, always on the lookout for new and exciting opportunities, music, magazines, brands, people… just stuff in general. So when I found out that there’s a whole industry built around just that I knew I had to be part of it. I packed my bags and headed off to the most exciting city I knew: London. And the rest is history, as they say.
HB: What inspires you? And in your opinion, what are the tenets of good design?
AF: Being inspired is an attitude for me. Maybe because I grew up in a quiet, rural and very safe environment, but I see and look for inspiration everywhere. My children are a constant source, so is my partner, my friends and the beautiful city we live in. Of course I also see a lot of inspiration online but being out and about and taking life in is just as stimulating for me, and a healthy antidote to the noise we subject ourselves to online. When it comes to good design I live by the phrase ‘good design is as little design as possible’. There is such a skill in keeping things simple – the older I get the more I appreciate that. I get a real buzz when seeing great composition, negative space, clean typography and relevant imagery come together. This applies not only to graphic design but to all other design disciplines from architecture, interior and product design to fashion, photography and even music. Over the years I’ve moved towards a pared-back, often monochrome aesthetic, to hone in on composition and structure. No technological wizardry can make up for the lack of a considered layout, which is why I always start off in black and white and slowly add colour, texture and imagery if appropriate.
HB: What did you do before going into childrenswear?
AF: I’ve been running my own graphic design business for almost 10 years but with the birth of my two boys I became more interested in childrenswear and was surprised to find how difficult it was to find anything simple with a bit of an edge, arguably hip.
I had a distinct American Indian headdress motif in my mind and when I couldn’t find anything I liked, I started looking into the idea of printing some t-shirts myself. I was also keen to design some interesting wall art for my boys’ room and, as I already had the contacts for printing posters, I decided it was a natural step to add some t-shirts to the range: Wild Boys & Girls was born.
HB: What do you love about running Wild Boys & Girls?
AF: I really enjoy the variety of jobs that come with running a small business. I am also a real perfectionist and love wrapping each individual order.