“The process is not always pretty or easy or fun. Sometimes it’s emotional or challenging or goes through many, many phases before it reaches completion.”
In a few words, describe yourself and your practice.
My name is Dee, I am a production weaver and textile designer.
When did you start your practice?
I started weaving in 2000-2001 but I began my studio Herron in 2011.
Is your practice how you support yourself? If not, what else are you working on to do so?
Yes, my practice is how I make my living. Over the past two years I have been working quite tirelessly to turn Herron into a home textiles brand that has complete supply chain and labor transparency. Next Spring I am launching my first collection and I have some side projects that are more my personal art practice.
How do you start your process?
Designing the collection started with a feeling. Something I wanted the body of work as a whole to capture. I then build sketches and designs around this concept and once I have some designs I like on paper I make samples of them on the looms. Sometimes the translation changes from sketches to actual samples and there is some forgiveness there. Once I have final samples I am happy with, the work goes into production. When I am making one of a kind work, I work differently. I just work intuitively on the loom and I draw and paint intuitively. Sometimes there is cross over between one-of-a-kind work and production and sometimes they are very separate.
What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?
I can't think of anything else I'd rather do with my life than what I am already doing. I feel happy and challenged--this work feels like what I am meant to do.
WHAT MAKES YOUR WORK UNIQUE?
I have a vision for the kind of work
I want to put into this world. It has substance and depth and beauty.
I hope it touches hearts and minds.
WHO (OR WHAT) INSPIRES YOU?
Inspiration is something that happens when your heart and your senses and your mind are open to allow it to come in. I can’t pin point one specific thing or person that I am inspired by because I am inspired by lots of things and sometimes nothing at all.
If you were to share one piece of advice with those who aspire to do what you do, what would it be?
Well, I think it is really important to distinguish if you want to put the kind of pressure on your art to be your livelihood, to pay the bills and put bread on the table. And if it is, have a really solid business plan and start up capital before you make the jump. It's a lot of pressure to put on your creativity to sustain you, especially if you don't have vision for the distant future.
How does where you live affect your work?
I've lived in Chicago since 1998, I went to art school here, my closest friends live here, I have built a life for myself here. I am part of a nurturing community of makers, small business owners, artists, musicians. I've tried to make a life in other places; Maine, New York, Italy, Virginia. None of those places felt like home and the communities did not feel like mine.
I think my work is able to flourish and have a voice here in Chicago because I flourish and have a voice here. I feel comfortable and happy here and it shows in my work.
What are some challenges you're facing in your practice?
I am orchestrating some very big changes with my creative practice and business – the changes are exciting, risky and exhilarating. The level of project management and creative direction is about to increase for me and I'm hyper focused on how the whole picture flows together, from budgets and capital to product transparency to thoughtful, fresh design – this stuff makes my brain light up – it's problem solving. At the heart of it is the work, I want the work to be nuanced and tasteful, sophisticated yet playful and it's all about balance. Balance in the design, balance in the business, balance in my life. Balance is a challenge. During this last year my business has been going through growing pains, and as you stretch yourself creatively while also keeping the lights on well – I have had some really high highs and low lows. Balance – that's a major challenge.
Are you comfortable sharing all aspects of your process?
If not, why?
I think that the creative process that happens in the studio, behind closed doors is where an artist or designer can experiment, fail, and have emotions about the work. When you are creating the work that process takes it's own course, It's not ready for the world and judgement yet, it's too underdeveloped. The process is not always pretty or easy or fun. Sometimes it's emotional or challenging or goes through many, many phases before it reaches completion. For me, the process is mostly private.
How would your audience describe you?
Dynamic, hardworking, honest, vibrant, playful.
How has your practice changed over time? Where do you see it going?
I started out making scarves on a tiny loom in the attic of my building. Now I make area rugs, pillows, blankets, wall tapestries, fiber sculpture and I license my designs to other companies. I enjoy the constant growth artistically and personally. I can see how my work has evolved in the last 5 years and I feel like I have come to a place where I have found my artistic voice and I am really confident with it. Now I am putting that into context with a greater vision for my work as a self sustaining business. I am deeply interested in innovation and I have some ideas I am working toward now that I am excited about but can't quite share yet.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a collection of home textile goods; a line of blankets and limited edition area rugs. The collection will be released in May 2016.