Back to Blog May 12, 2023

Alumna Finds an Intersection of Fine Art and High Fashion

Author: Emily Herbein

Tyler alumna Kaitlyn Riccardi (BFA ‘19) earned her degree in painting and drawing, and her combined passion for the fine arts and fashion landed her at one of the world’s most prestigious fashion houses: Louis Vuitton. Working as the first artisan with the brand’s King of Prussia location, Riccardi hand paints custom designs onto their iconic luggage.  

Riccardi entered Tyler with the question, “how can I get a job as a painter?” at the top of her mind. “What I learned,” she said, “is that you often have to create your own path.” While pursuing her degree full time, Riccardi took a part-time job as a retail manager for a consignment boutique, where her love of painting on designer bags and shoes blossomed. This led her to open her own Etsy shop, taking client commissions full time after she graduated.  

In 2020, she made her way to Louis Vuitton, serving as one of 30 artisans in the United States after completing a series of technical painting and drawing assessments. Since 1854, Louis Vuitton has “honored a prestigious tradition of offering a hand painting service with the purchase of a Vuitton trunk,” Riccardi explained of her day-to-day work with the brand. “I create, design, and paint these famous hard-sided trunks for clients based on their specifications and inspiration for the pieces.” 

Though it’s been four years since she has been in a fine arts class — some of her most memorable being Professor Susan Moore’s figure painting class and Professor Keith Morrison’s “Painting on Paper” class — Riccardi reflected on how her time at Tyler has continued to play a major role in her professional arts practice, from the “material and technical know-how, to building a consistent habit of creating every single day,” she said. Riccardi specifically credits the “invaluable” art history courses that she took. “My work currently combines painting and history, and I am fortunate to be able to reflect upon these lessons and continue expanding upon them.”  

When she’s not adorning one-of-a-kind luxury items, Riccardi continues to show her personal artwork in gallery settings, most recently at Bethlehem's Banana Factory and Devon Horse Gallery. This month, she is participating in an Alumni Art Show in the Nazareth Area School District's Eagle Nest Gallery . “As a lifelong learner, my daily project on the side is to always seek knowledge and continue asking questions.”  

Photos courtesy of Kaitlyn Riccardi