Freshly Laundered 002 / Robyn Kanner


Robyn Kanner is a designer based out of Portland, Maine. Her first tee with us, Dozen, is one of our all-time best sellers (and available again for purchase as of this moment). We checked in with her last week to see what was new.


CB: Tell us how you got into design - what brought you to where you are now?

RK: When I was a teenager, all of my friends were in bands. I didn’t have the skills to play an instrument yet, so I picked up a camera and started to photograph them. A couple years later, those same friends were recording albums and I wanted to design them. I taught myself the trade until I reached undergrad where I honed in on design through various course work. After finishing undergrad, I didn’t have a mentor and was seeking any chance to learn and gain knowledge. Around that time, Mike Monteiro started posting podcasts, blogs, and giving talks regularly. I learned from the process he outlined and the books he suggested reading and did my best to implement them in my current practice as a designer.

CB: Would you say Mike has been a big influence on your career? Who else would fall in that category?

RK: I would say that I’ve taken the things he’s said very seriously. A few years ago I was strongly considering going freelance full time. I thought, “Well, I’ve got enough client work to kind of get by, and I could maybe figure it out, etc.” Then I listened to a podcast where he spoke about all of these designers in their twenties opening up their own shops and working for themselves. He talked about how these new designers should really be spending their time working under design directors gaining knowledge and learning from the experience they have. For that alone, I’ve actively gone out of my way to work with and under people.

In addition to Mike, I’ve always been a fan MK12, Michael Cina, Karen McGrane, and most recently, Alexandra Bond.

CB: That’s great advice from Mike - having a workplace (or non-workplace mentor) is such a valuable tool when you’re fresh out of college. You recently posted some interesting findings based upon your first six months of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Have you had a mentor or confidant to help you through this process? How has it been going for you so far?

RK: Yeah! I compiled data from a series of questions I was asking myself for the first six months of being on HRT with the Reporter App. Then I took that data and designed a poster.


I didn’t have an individual mentor, but I did surround myself with wonderful friends who have been superb in letting me mentally work through this shift as well as a digital network that was able to relate to what was happening in my body. A large fear that I had prior to starting HRT was that design would somehow take a back seat in my daily thinking. Fortunately, the reverse happened. I was able to target problems that were previously unclear, understand the importance of accessibility, and recognize when empathy needed to play a role in design (which is always). Without a doubt, transitioning made me a better designer.

CB: That’s great to hear! It’s always a worry when something major is affecting life outside the office whether it will influence work as well. Glad to hear that for you, it turned into a positive. What’s next on the horizon for you?

RK: I’m working on the visual design (print & web) for a restaurant that’s opening up in downtown Portland, Maine, flirting with starting up a food blog, and continuing to visually document HRT. On a larger scale, I’m taking it all as it comes. As long as my core principles of designing for the user and with a team are in place, I’ll be happy.

CB: Those sound like awesome projects! Thanks for chatting with us Robyn.