DC Designers: Kristina Bilonick

Kristina Bilonick in her design studio.

What: Brightly colored screen tees, ties, blazers, and 80s-inspired glass jewelry for men and women.

Who: The 31-year-old began designing when she moved back home to D.C. after graduating from the University of New Hampshire. She started out printing t-shirts for junior high soccer teams and corporate softball leagues at a mom-and-pop shop. She only worked there for nine months, but looking at the rows of screens Bilonick keeps in her studio, it’s clear that experience left a lasting imprint—no pun intended.

Today, Bilonick works myriad jobs in the DC arts community. She’s a program director for the Washington Project for the Arts and her show—a display of printed images on large wooden blocks­—just closed at the Transformer gallery. She also makes time for her clothing line.

Where to buy it: Smash!, Civilian Art Project, and on her Web site

Bargain Hunter: Everybody loves a bargain and Bilonick is no exception. She buys in bulk from vendors like American Apparel and rummages through stacks of clothing at locally-owned vintage stores, finding T-shirts, ties, and anything else she thinks would be easy to print on.

What Goes Around Comes Around: For inspiration, Bilonick looks to the past. She keeps her childhood journals close at hand and turns to them whenever she needs ideas. “My ideas then still hold true now,” she says.

DC Born and Bred and Proud of It!: In a city where the insiders are actually the outsiders, Bilonick is proud to say she grew up just outside the district in Chevy Chase.
But she didn’t always live here. The daughter of the Panamanian ambassador, Bilonick spent much of her childhood in her father’s native country (hence that terrific tan).

Rooted in Nature: Bilonick’s parents divorced during her teenage years, and while her father moved back to Panama, she moved to Connecticut with her mom. It was an eye-opening experience, she says. Many of Bilonick’s designs incorporate both nature and urban aspects.

Bilonick’s faves: 

Place for clothes: H&M, American Apparel, Target, Village Thrift
Place for shoes: Macy’s, Shake Your Booty. “I’m a Payless junkie.”
Restaurant: San Marco
Bar: Toledo Lounge and Fountain Cafe
Ideal DC day: Start out at the American Portrait Gallery, then head to Chinatown’s Express for dumplings, noodles, and beer. Finish with a movie at the E Street Cinema.
DC Place: The Francis pool (2500 N Street, NW). “The people watching is to die for and the camaraderie and the kids running around are a slice of heaven.”

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