“I like to start my day with a walk to the studio so I can gather my thoughts; by the time I get there, I’m ready to start testing ideas.”
In a few words, describe yourself and your practice.
My name is Bianca Vallentine and I am the creative director behind The Vallentine Project - I hand paint/ print textiles and turn them into lifestyle products like clothes and bedding. I also make large scale streamer walls (30 metres plus) for weddings and parties. I am also a mum and manager so I'm pretty busy, but thats how I like to be.
When did you start your practice?
I can say officially, ten years ago (I started it in 2005), but let's face it, I've been doing this my whole life and The Vallentine Project has had many forms. It all began with tie-dyed socks and knickers that I was selling in the country town where I grew up when I was 11 and it grew from there.
How do you start your process?
At the moment I'm not even sure where it begins... I'm currently in a really intense production phase so everything is about lists and calendars, spreadsheets and budgets, but, when I'm on the other side of creation I'm a lot more free. I like to start my day with a walk to the studio so I can gather my thoughts, by the time I get there I'm ready to start testing ideas. I have a cup of coffee, I sketch, I paint and then I generally get really messy mixing paint and getting it everywhere. Those days are the best.
Who (or what) inspires you?
I look around my house and think about what I need in it. I look to architecture and design for a lot of my shapes, at the moment I'm obsessed with the Bauhaus movement and their crazy outfits.
WHAT MAKES YOUR WORK UNIQUE?
I’m really embracing modernizing handicraft work, partially as a way to not lose traditions, but also because I think there is enough generic, mass produced stuff out there that we don't need to make it anymore.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE ASPIRING TO DO WHAT YOU DO?
Do the thing you love the most and try and outsource the things that take you away from it.
Is your practice how you support yourself? If not, what else are you working on to do so?
I have had times where my practice has been the only thing that has supported me and other times when I've also worked on something else - the main thing I've found is that I always need to make time for creativity or I go nuts! I love being the kind of creative that is really interested in business, processes and making things work. At the moment I work three days a week managing the RMIT University Centre for Game Design Research where I get to flex my project management and communications skills. I actually find this a really great thing for me so I don't become lazy in my own practice - something I admit I have been guilty of before. The rest of my week is spent being a mum and a maker, I try and do what I can in two studio days but I often find I do my pattern making or cutting at home when the small human is asleep. I actually don't mind working like this, women in my family are known for their inability to sit still.
What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?
I'd probably be getting way more involved in decorating my house for festive events, such as Halloween and Christmas.
How would your audience describe you?
I don't know! I'm hoping they'll look to me for products that have a bit of heart and soul, are ethically made and limited edition.
WHAT IS THE MOST USEFUL TIP OR ADVICE YOU'VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
Trust your own style and don’t get too influenced by what’s going on around you.
How does where you live affect your work?
I've been living in Melbourne for a bit over 8 years after moving here from Western Australia. Living in the West taught me that I can work anywhere (due to its isolation), but living here feels very supported - the industry is here, people are encouraging and I've felt very included and supported. In terms of inspiration though, I get most of my ideas on my holidays to the bush, to the beach or out of the country, but I would say that is true for most people - you give your mind permission to be free when you go on holiday!
Are you comfortable sharing all aspects of your process? if not, why?
I'm pretty happy to share my design process because it’s really about how the person executes the aesthetic that give it a personal touch. Having said that if a large company ripped me off I don't think I'd be so comfortable. For me it’s about the intention.
WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES YOU'RE FACING IN YOUR PRACTICE?
Time, it’s always time. It’s okay though I’ve pretty much given up on sleeping. I can always do that when I’m dead.
How has your practice changed over time? Where do you see it going?
I started off The Vallentine Project as purely a fashion label but I could see early on that I really wanted to branch out into other products. I tried out heaps of things like film, exhibition curation, installation and now that I'm doing bedlinen and clothes I'm finding myself laughing at how things have come full circle.
I hope to see The Vallentine Project being stocked in a bunch of great home wares stores all over the world with some really great collaborations in the mix.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a new bedding collection, jumpsuits, pants and some kitchen products. I've also started playing around with homemade washing powder because I like to control the smells of my clothes.