Markella Mildenberger’s art is all over the walls in Vancouver. Quite literally.
The owner of The Red Palette in Vernon, Mildenberger has developed a way to transform her paintings into wallpaper, and designers in the Lower Mainland are starting to take note.
“It was sort of a middle-of-the-night idea,” said Mildenberger, a mother of two. “I am one of those people that keeps a notebook by my bedside.
“I played with the idea for about a year-and-a-half, just taking my original artwork and seeing what I could do with it.”
Mildenberger, who moved to Vernon from Edmonton seven years ago, started by scanning and photographing her existing work, and then manipulated it using computer software to create repeatable patterns. Through the wonders of Photoshop, she can adjust the size, frequency and colour schemes of her patterns to suit any client’s taste.
“From one actual painting, or one piece that I create, I can probably come up with hundreds of designs,” said Mildenberger, who also holds a degree in journalism. “The repeats, the colours – the sky is the limit.”
After that, it was a matter of transferring her digital creations on to a medium. Mildenberger works with two manufacturers, one in the U.S. and another in Canada, to take her art from the computer onto wallpaper, as well as fabric and textiles. Her website features an array of more than 150 designs.
Gone are the days of pasting a wall with a messy glue and hoping the wallpaper sticks, said Mildenberger. She uses water-activated wallpaper, and also offers a products that can be repositioned. However, she noted it still is a two-person job.
“It’s all PVC-free, it’s all eco-friendly and the inks last forever,” she said. “You soak them for three minutes, they go up, you smooth them out, line up your repeats and it’s done.”
Since the official launch of The Red Palette’s wallpaper line Sept. 1, the reaction has been tremendous. Mildenberger’s creations were featured in the Flo Form Lounge at the Vancouver Home and Design Show at B.C. Place, in mid-October.
That drew the attention of Colin and Justin’s Home Heist, a reality TV show on HGTV. Mildenberger hinted they are considering a piece on The Red Palette’s creations in the future.
“It just totally blew me away,” she said. “Wallpaper is a major thing in design now, like it used to be. It’s on a comeback. Every designer that I work with and talk to, that’s all they use.”
Mildenberger caters to both residential and commercial applications with her product line. Using her sales savvy, she has developed a clever business model to handle the commercial sector. Those clients, which could include restaurants, cafes and other franchise operations, have the option of either licensing her designs for a set period, or buying the copyright completely.
In time, Mildenberger hopes to see more demand for her work in the Okanagan, but added Vancouver is further ahead of the fashion curve, which is where she needs to concentrate her efforts. For now, she is content to make the bi-weekly trek to the coast to conduct business in the big city.
“It’s catching on in Vancouver to the point where I don’t have to contact people anymore,” she said.
In order to keep things fresh, and for her own artistic aspirations, Mildenberger is constantly working on new material. Now that the medium has changed from canvas to wallpaper, she admits to taking a more methodical approach when she paints. Well, most of the time.
“I look at it a little differently,” she said. “I still paint from the heart, and I’m still going to do my thing, but I now have a better understanding of the repeats and how the patterns are going to work, and how its going to look when I play with it digitally.
“But I still go down in my studio and turn the music really loud and get in the zone to make something for the pure purpose of making art.”