Written by Carolinne Griffin
There’s a recurring theme in Bethany Andrews-Nichols’ life: her love for patterns. She’s always had a thing for them—patterns on paper, on rugs. She even remembers the wallpaper pattern in the entryway of her childhood home. Before starting Beenanza Design in 2017, Andrews-Nichols worked as a designer in the corporate sector, always looking to bring pattern elements into her assignments. Today she’s flipped the script and created a business of making bold, playful motifs that are applied and enjoyed in all kinds of ways.
“Sometimes I call myself an illustrator,” says Andrews-Nichols. “I do an illustration, and then I repeat it, and it’s a pattern.” As an artist-designer, she often applies these patterns onto tangible surfaces like paper, canvas and leather by the traditional method of block printing. She also puts work into the digital sphere with a free monthly calendar download, which, she says “is just to get people to enjoy patterns on a regular basis.” While much of this work happens from her Soda Plant studio, she also spends a lot of time working with an entirely different and much larger canvas: a wall. Beenanza murals are popping up in and around the Queen City, adding bursts of color to local businesses and schools.
Then there is the washi tape, Andrews-Nichols’ latest fascination and an unlikely medium that she’s been working with since the pandemic lockdown. From her dining room table, away from wooden blocks and ink, she began cutting the colorful tape into shapes and sticking them into her sketchbook to make new designs. This unique taping process is how Andrews-Nichols plans on developing a line of wallpaper, the next frontier for Beenanza Design. It would bring this love for patterns full-circle. “My life has been defined by the patterns around me,” she says. “I might as well embrace it and make the patterns around other people.”