There’s a fantastic quality to the hand-painted wallpaper of She She. It's imaginative and wild, like something bursting off a storybook page and flooding the walls around you.
Over the last year, locally based She She has taken off, installing custom designs in homes and businesses in the Twin Cities, Chicago, and Denver.
The two shes behind She She are Kate Worum and Jennifer Jorgensen. Worum is an illustrator and designer for Target, where she does print pattern surface design for the home -- everything from curtains and blankets to dinnerware and bathroom decor. Jorgensen specializes in remodeling and design for her interior design and architecture company.
We sat down to find out the story behind the art.
How did you get started with She She?
JJ: We met at an art gallery years ago. Then I was doing a show for the American Craft Council, or I did one of the rooms in the show, and you have to design the walls and everything. I thought it would be cool, because Kate’s such a good illustrator, if we could make a North-inspired wallpaper. That was our first project, without us even wanting to launch it into its own company.
KW: I’ve been obsessed with print and pattern my whole life. I’ve always dreamt about how I can get art on any surface. I used to print large sheets and create these vignettes as mock wallpaper, so when Jenny asked me, I was like, ‘Hell. Fucking. Yeah.’
JJ: It became a passion project for us.
How did you make the leap from printed wallpaper to hand-painted?
JJ: We had the idea of hand painting from the beginning, but it was just time-wise we couldn’t make it work on our first project.
KW: We both decided that there are so many wallpaper companies out there and a lot of expected and traditional stuff. We noticed a white space for more bold and exploratory pattern-making. We decided it’s a little bit more approachable to do hand-painted.
JJ: It makes it easier. If you flip through wallpaper there are options galore. But to find the perfect color, the perfect style that works with everything else in your home, that can be difficult. It’s like, ‘If I could only change this orange to be green it would be perfect.’ With this you can have whatever color you want, whatever style you want. And it puts an original piece of art in your home without having to buy a piece of art.
I think also lot of people have a fear about installing wallpaper because it can be such a pain to install and remove.
JJ: You can just paint over this eventually. And then it goes away forever. It’s like a living piece of art or something. You only get it until it’s gone.
How does a project come to fruition?
KW: It all starts with the concept and design. We work with our clients to understand what they want the room to evoke and what kind of story they want to tell or how to have the print reflect their personality and their space. So the first part is obviously brainstorming and understanding what we’re designing. Then we present the client with mood boards so they can see the direction we’re going in. Then we create the design. And, finally, we have two methods we’re working with now. One is projecting the design onto the wall and hand-tracing. The other method is getting a pattern made or a stencil which we found very effective in a Chicago coffeeshop installment we did. We’re exploring how to make it more efficient with each project. From there we go to town and hand paint.
How long does it take to paint?
KW: Surprisingly it goes pretty fast. The design aspect is probably two to three weeks and then the actual installment is two to four days.
JJ: But those are 12- to 14-hour days. Lots of sleepless weekends.
How much would a project like this cost?
KW: Honestly, it really depends on the complexity of the design and the scale of the design and the colors and the scale of the room.
What was your first project?
JJ: The first hand-painted project was in a condo I own in the Mill District. We created the pattern together. It was kind of an emotional pattern.
KW: It was an homage to a very transitional time. We had both gotten out of breakups and we went up to the North Woods--
JJ: -- to clean out my cabin. To take my stuff out. And then the design was kind of a toile based on all these things that happened to us at the cabin. We’re both overly creative and certainly overly emotional at the time, so it was our way of getting out our feelings.
How many of these have you done so far?
KW: Of the hand-painted projects, we’ve done six.
JJ: We also have a client in St. Paul who had us make her a custom wallpaper.
KW: And that’s something we’re really interested in is also getting rolls of custom printed wallpaper made. It’s how we’d like to grow in the next year.
Kate, if you were going to decorate a wall for Jenny, what would you put on it?
KW: I would for sure do her bathroom upstairs because it’s absolutely beautiful. And this is actually cheating because we’ve daydreamed about this, but this is something I want to do for Jenny. We have not done a tonal wallpaper yet. Like a cream with white or high gloss pattern so that when you walk past it’s this sexy, shimmery sheen --
JJ: -- but from far away it’s not bold at all.
KW: It’s super subtle. So in her bathroom I would do something that reflects femininity and the abstracted female form. It wouldn’t be overtly a nude woman but we’d pull inspiration from the curvature of a woman and then every once in awhile there’s a peek-a-boo that you understand that it’s the female form. That’s my dream for a wall for Jenny.
Jenny, what would you do for Kate?
JJ: My first reaction is that one of our constant fights is Kate loves florals. I don’t dislike them, but I just like other things more. She likes florals the most.
KW: Any opportunity I have.
JJ: She loves drawing flowers, she’s great at drawing flowers. So I’d probably give her a crazy jungle. Super colorful, super dramatic, everything floral. No white.
KW: That sounds good. Let’s do it, let’s put this on the books. Actually my ultimate dream is to have a houseboat on the river.
JJ: We could just do the whole outside of the boat! That would be so cool!
KW: Like, there’s Kate in her floral boat. Toot toot!