James Donald ~ inspiration ~ development ~ diversification

James unique story starts with his inspiration from his travels and none more so than around Scotland his inspiration is captured from various areas around the west coast, Uist and Shetland.

From woods and streams, clouds the sea, sand and moss to rusty metal bits the Scottish landscape is so close to his heart.

He captures these rich treasures of inspiration with his camera using the viewfinder as his frame and develops these images further using mix media to obtain a completely original design.

Yarns are sourced from Scotland 99.9% of the time and he uses his unique float pattern and weaves his design on his 32 shaft computerized loom – he calls it his pride and joy

 This method of weaving and these designs are unique to James

Artists Kate Downey has been a great inspiration to him also. He recalls her and the techniques he learned from her if he gets in a rut , his advice if you get stuck is keep going, pushing yourself  through the pain barrier as he calls it and back in 2008 this did happen to him – he’d just received his  second development grant of £10,000  from the Scottish Arts Council – now known as Creative Scotland and he remembers sitting in his studio not knowing where to start.  He approached Reiko Sudo of the Nuno Corporation, Tokyo, and Ann Sutton an expert in weave to become his mentors. So he pushed and went back to the techniques he’d learned and put together an amazing range of designs.

he created huge mixed media pieces all based on his trip to Uist  and Shetland and began to use technology in the form of his iphone – the word of the day was APP – he used various apps to play with the images he’d photographed and an idea was beginning to form in his mind –now  not only weave but a completely new range of products was beginning to take hold.

And this is where he began to diversify

Lambs wool and linen hand woven scarves will always be James staples but now glassware, stationery, digitally printed scarves and badge pieces were born and their debut would be at the forthcoming trade show in Philadelphia.

glass collection was engraved here in Dundee by White & Sharp Glass Engravers

So along with 25 makers and the Craft Scotland team they arrived in Philadelphia for a direct to the public selling show which was organized by the Museum of Art this was James’ second time here which is usually unheard of.  People came from all over – Baltimore, New York and the eastern sea board to name a few – he was the only weaver there and he was a MAN!

He arrived with 3 suitcases of products and came back with ½ a suitcase.

Promotion was amazing – with incredible touch points, pens brochures  postcards banners and  the incredibly hard working Craft Scotland team gave so much and we all know Emma Walker now – she was there every day making contacts speaking to customers and promoting Scottish craft often the last to leave at night.  This show was such a resounding success and really demonstrates  how connection with Craft Scotland can pay off.

So it was with enthusiasm that James set of for the New York International Gift Fair having done the show 10 times previously.  This show sells directly to retailers but unfortunately it was a completely different experience, whether it was a sign of the times, a very mild winter or the price point was wrong this was the first show with which he was disappointed with sales, as he says it doesn’t matter if you’re fresh out out college or been making for a while  its down to the buyers.  So now he gets on and digests where things may have gone wrong – was his diversification at a cost to him,  should he have concentrated as PickOne the weaver ………………..

I have to say thank you to James – he has been a great support to our group and very generously let us borrow some of his beautiful work to display for our presentation he also gave all six of us beautiful pins to wear.

James can be found here at his pickone blog 

At the the shop he shares with his amazing business partner Fiona McIntosh  – Concrete Wardrobe

At his studios for incredible workshops

He also lectures at Dundee College in Textile Art and Leith School of Art.

Dundee College once again offering me a new experience

On Friday I gave my first ever presentation as a Textile Designer to the Textile Design and Textile Design for Fashion students at Dundee College, Graham Street, Dundee.  It was here that I did my City and Guilds Machine Embroidery, HNC Textile Design and some HND Textile Design units.  The time at Dundee College was incredible for my growth as an artist and here I was allowed to experiment and push myself with design, this in turn was amazing for my confidence in myself, allowing me to apply to second year as an direct entry student to Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design to study Textile Design.

I was asked to deliver the presentation by James Donald my former tutor who teaches the HNC unit with Claire Heminsley and Laura McGregor. My brief was to talk about myself, my background  and the journey through to where I am now in terms of my art and design. I was also asked to talk about my experience of blogs and web sites and how I feel about social networking tools. I also talked about Design Studies as it linked with a project I did in semester one about how people connect and about the Embroidery Guild and the importance of keeping skills and craft alive with younger members too.

The presentation was to last 30 – 45 minutes which is quite along time for a first timer but I used a power point presentation (mostly images) and post cards to prompt me.  In hindsight I would probably try to have a live link to the internet and my blog in particular. I would have my examples of work closer to where I was standing and probably focus more on what I am doing now (although it is mostly uni work at present).

It also highlighted for me where my strengths and weakness are and I realise that my strengths are in talking about textiles and techniques involved  in my work and just about my own blog and as I’m still in the beginners stage of social networking felt that the content was perhaps not strong enough.  Maybe this is just doubt on my side!

As this was my first ever presentation I was understandably anxious but I believe it was well received, the students were very encouraging with smiles and nods and lots of questions and I received a lovely message from one of the students thanking me.  It was also  lovely to see that I’d inspired the majority of students to go on to university and if they had already made the decision to go, reinforced for them what an amazing experience it is!

I would like to say thank you to James Claire and Laura and all the students for making me so welcome.

me with the students