Look closely at Kayla Rumpp’s work – which locates itself somewhere on the border between painting and sculpture – and you might see the echoes of an unusual source material: Popsicle sticks. After earning her undergraduate degree, Rumpp worked as an elementary school teacher – and found all sorts of unlikely inspiration in her students’ arts and crafts, from their Crayola crayons to those distinctively shaped wooden sticks. You can see them in the rounded edges of some of her pieces – rendered both in large and small (mere inches) scale. “I was an elementary school teacher for a few years before I continued my education in graduate school, and I would say that was one of the biggest turning points in my art practice,” she says. “A lot of the supplies in an elementary school – Crayola markers, watercolor paint, Popsicle sticks – that was kind of a revolutionary experience for me, to find all of these Popsicle sticks in these classrooms and to think of them as a really super interesting sculptural tool. It just evolved and evolved into the work that I’m making now.”
Outside of these foundational shapes, Rumpp’s work is gorgeously colorful, whether a piece is several feet tall or just several inches. “In my process, I have a lot of vibrant colors that might be included in each piece, but there are usually at least one or two main colors that I like to use as a jumping-off point,” she says. “It’s often based on how I’m feeling that day: ‘Today feels like a green day,’ or ‘I haven’t made a blue painting in a really long time.’ After that, it becomes kind of a game, to figure out what’s the next color in this painting – what two colors look great next to each other, what two colors look really confusing next to each other. [I’m interested in] that point of confusion, where pink is next to yellow, but maybe it starts to change a little bit – maybe it starts to look a little bit more orange, based on what color it’s touching. Magical things can happen when you put different colors together.”
For a closer look at that magic, tune in!
Diana Ostrom, who has written for Wallpaper, Interior Design, ID, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets, is also the author of Faraway Places, a newsletter about travel.
Milkshake, DMTV (Design Milk TV)’s first regular series, shakes up the traditional interview format by asking designers, creatives, educators and industry professionals to select interview questions at random from their favorite bowl or vessel. During their candid discussions, you’ll not only gain a peek into their personal homeware collections, but also valuable insights into their work, life and passions.