GTPulse: Towns Of M22 Featured by Leland Artist

Kristin Hussey is still inspired by the beauty that surrounds us here in Northern Michigan. She moved here from Chicago at three years old and has fallen more in love with this area as time has passed.

“All of my childhood memories have been here.  I grew up on Old Mission Peninsula in a really pretty, rural area right outside where cherry orchards are, but I didn’t have a whole appreciation for how beautiful the area is until I moved away for college.”

Like many young Traverse City residents before her, a stronger appreciation for the area arose after being away. Kristin went to study architecture at North Carolina State where she earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree. In her working life after college, she found that architecture didn’t excite her in the way that she wanted it to. She had been craving something that was dictated by art and design. In her daily life as an architect, she was bored by computer work more than she was honing her creativity. A transition to interior design proved to be unsatisfying as well. It was during this time that she came home and began working in a flower shop.

“I missed working with my hands and doing more hands-on artwork. I thought why not get my hands in something pretty that smells nice?”

The flower shop job was simple and beautiful. The shop eventually purchased a stationery company to complement all the wedding business they did with flowers. Having knowledge of Kristin’s background in design, the owners asked her to take the lead in creating fresh designs for stationery. She created a lot of soft floral designs with other wedding appropriate visuals and colors.

A peek at some of Kristin’s designs under her own company name Kristin MacKenzie Design show whimsical visuals like fishes, flowers and friends, as well as scenes inspired by everyday life, like a toddler wedged between sleepless parents, and a nude bathing beauty going about her rituals. Or my personal favorite, boobs of all different sizes and shapes. Her designs are directly inspired by her life and surroundings.

“Now that I’ve had a chance to do it for a few months and get into my own groove with everything, it’s a little less bold and more just inspired by the area we live in and the beauty that is around us. I still want to capture the joy that I feel when I’m out in nature in this area. I want to create products that bring joy to others.”

She still runs the stationery company connected to the flower shop, but now she has more freedom to create what she loves through her own company. Some favorites include wrapping paper, cards, to-do lists, and zippered bags, but she’s always brainstorming ideas for new designs and new mediums to showcase them.

“I think creating patterns for different pieces is my favorite part of the process. Coming up with artwork and laying it out on the computer is really to fun to see. I just started having the designs printed on fabric to be made into baby blankets and cosmetics bags. I’m brainstorming designs right now for our next launch for other fabric products.”

Kristin works in collections, with each one being a set cohesive in themes or colors. Typically released all at once, her newest collection will feature towns along M-22 with each town’s collection coming out one month at a time. As a mother, she has enjoyed taking her small children to experience some of the magical towns dotted along the coast.

“I selected 12 towns along the M-22 Highway that are iconic to the area. I picked an area within those towns to highlight with my illustrations. So I’m going to be traveling along the M-22 Highway each month highlighting a different town and releasing a selection of products featuring that artwork. The first one came out two months ago, and the last one will be released next August. It’s been really fun diving into these towns because even growing up here, I feel like you don’t really see the full view of each one of these towns. To this day I’ll go for a drive with my girls and we’ll just stumble upon the cutest post office in Omena, or a lighthouse along the coast. It’s so nice having all of that right around the corner.”

Corresponding products include high-quality stickers, notepads, art prints and a notecard and a calendar featuring all 12 is for preorder.              

When every town’s set is released, she plans to sell the individual, original paintings she’s done of each town. Towns of 22 has been a fun departure from her normal design work that predominantly has her creating designs through a digital format. 

“The end goal of this series is to release all of the originals. When you’re painting pieces that will be sold as an original it’s definitely a different process than when you’re just creating a pattern. It has to be great enough on its own because you can’t make those digital alterations to it. Three of the towns I painted more than once because the first time I knew, ‘Nope that’s not it.’ It’s been good for me to create a piece from start to finish that I can’t tweak on the computer. And I think some of those little imperfections make it more beautiful.”

Find Kristin MacKenzie Design items locally at West Bay Handmade and at Rustic Roots in Leland, and at her website

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Categories: GTPulse