Women, and the wonderful things they achieve globally should be celebrated every day, yet on 8th March each year, the world comes together specifically to do so. This year, I decided to use #IWD2019 as an opportunity to shout about the women who inspire me creatively, and whose work I adore, through a series of Instagram stories highlighting exciting and bold examples of their work and their ethos behind it. The feature was well received, and I’m so pleased to find that people made new connections through it. My boyfriend enjoyed it so much so, that he (in his continually supportive way) encouraged that I blog about these women who have so much influence on my creative practice, and tell their stories in greater depth. And so, here goes.
Ilse Crawford –
For those who follow my creative ventures, it will be no secret that Ilse Crawford is my design hero. Ilse, who is recognised with an MBE for her services to design, is director of Studio Ilse, a London based multi-disciplinary design studio who work to make the world a better place through design with humans and our needs at its heart. Whether it’s through considering mindfulness and wellbeing in an environment, product or bespoke piece, the Studio never fail to impress and catch attention. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to see some of Ilse’s work myself at London Design Festival 2017, and, at the stage of conjuring my own ideas around bespoke furniture design, learned lessons from the ethos of such important considerations within design. Accessibility, wellbeing and the needs of humans are all-too-often forgotten about or side-tracked in design, in a bid for aesthetic appeal or cost. Studio Ilse conquer this problem, and conquer it with an elegance and beauty that cannot be matched.
Ray Eames –
Eames. An iconic name in not only industrial design, but in every corner of art and design culture. However, there is a frequently unrealised fact behind the name – ‘Eames’ was not only the work of Charles; his wife Ray was an equally influential partner in the design success behind the household name. Ray Eames was an artist by trade, and so it can be seen that much of the beauty of Eames’ work came from the wonderful mind of Ray; not to mention the wealth of covers that she designed for “Art and Architecture“, all of which I would treasure as posters. During the early era in which the Eames duo worked, the media and press were drawn to the charming Charles as lead figure behind every piece of furniture and film that left the doors of the Eames Studio. It was not until latterly that Ray was finally recognised as a strong, inspirational woman in a design world which, at the time, was crowded with men. Following Charles’ death, Ray continued to work in the Eames Studio, and meticulously archived details of every piece of design that the Studio had produced, documenting them in books, to be admired and to act as influences in the design world until even now. With every Eames documentary I watch, and with every book I read, Ray Eames becomes more and more important as a female figure in design who inspires people globally, even decades after her passing.
Louise Kirby –
Another designer whose work I was lucky enough to come across during my time at art school is fellow DJCAD graduate, Louise Kirby. Based in Dundee’s WASPS Studios within the historic Meadow Mill, Louise works with bold patterns to create designs that are immediately recognised and loved across the city which plays influence to much of her work; Dundee. From Provincial Penguins to Dundee Delights, Louise’s work has a classic feel combined with the modern touch of vibrant colours that makes it truly unique, and a favourite within my household, which boasts Kirby tea towels, badges and prints. It is the blend of traditional Dundee icons with a contemporary flair that makes Louise Kirby’s work of such influence to not only myself, but also so many other young creatives.
Kirsty McKeown –
DJCAD also introduced me to the brilliant (and often mystical) world of zines. An advocate for the zine scene within Dundee, Kirsty McKeown works wizardry with collage to create work which often has important political messages, acting as a moment of protest and a reminder of artistic refinement amongst even the greatest of political turmoil. As well as this, Kirsty co-directed Dundee’s recent Zine Festival, alongside Becca Clark – another important name in Dundee’s artistic community – which connected zinesters from every corner of the community, and every photocopier in Scotland. I look forward to the next already, and to adding to my own zine library, in which I am lucky enough to have many copies of Kirsty’s work, from Space Oddity to Spare Parts.
Kirsty Thomas –
Tom Pigeon are a Fife-based multi-disciplinary design studio, directed by Kirsty Thomas, who work across a multitude of mediums, and perfect every single one. From tiles to earrings to prints to notebooks, Tom Pigeon use playful geometry and careful colour to produce work that is recognised and admired nationally, and whose portfolio includes exciting collaborations with the V&A, the Barbican and Social Bite. It is the Studio’s work inspired by Kirsty’s love for Brutalist Architecture and the Brutal form that is my personal favourite – Béton. Silver and gold are crafted delicately and intricately to convey shapes and forms found within Brutalism, introducing an elegance to the Brutal form that is repeatedly missed, resulting in a jewellery collection that radiates true artistry. Thinking out-with the studio, Tom Pigeon are currently initiating new things, in a mission to bring creativity and the gift of making to those who are sadly cut short due to lack of tools and materials, through an exciting social project, The Make Bank.
Christine Kingsley –
I have been fortunate enough to know, and be creatively shaped by Christine Kingsley since my first ever module as a Social Digital student in DJCAD. Christine is one of the biggest characters in Social Digital, helping and influencing a multitude of students at one time, always with a smile on her face and with a pen in hand, to practice a skill which I am in eternally grateful to have been taught by the designer – visual note-taking. Talks and presentations are all enhanced by the ability to let your mind draw notes, instead of writing frantically and getting caught behind, left with half sentences which boggle upon revision. However, Christine’s creative expertise is not limited to the world of pen and ink; recently Christine and I collaborated on a zine which brought traditional woodcuts of plant-life, expertly crafted by Christine to the front, highlighting their textured visual appeal and creating individual pieces of art within each page. An approach to design through considerations of mindfulness and accessibility (akin to Studio Ilse) connected with a love for nature and the beautiful Scottish environment around us makes Christine’s work a treat, and a reminder to make the time to be grateful of the joy of creation.
Gillian Griffiths –
From rough Highland moors to delicate speckled feathers, Gillian Griffiths looks to her surroundings and works with traditional materials in subdued tones and soft textures which inspire slowness and a love for the outdoors. I was instantly taken with the Gray’s School of Art graduate’s work, when I happily stumbled across it as part of a joint exhibition for Perthshire Open Studios, called ‘Beyond the Bothy‘, and I am inspired every day by her work, as some adorns my wall. Paisley patterns in deep purples sit alongside tweed, and material depicting Scottish game birds in a piece that excites visually through layers that are orchestrated through use of colour and texture, that comes from an immense understanding of the landscape of printed textiles.
Janet Stephen –
Within every Highland moor, there is the element of water, tracing patterns and trails across Scotland from the East to the West. In the changing climates of Scotland’s West Coast, mixed media artist Janet Stephen finds inspiration for stunning works from illustration to pottery to – more recently – stained glass. Otters dive deep through blues and teals, puffins soar with grace, displaying meticulously painted feathers whilst boats float gently on glass harbours in a range of work created using years of artistic experience. Janet’s knowledge of the tools, the materials, and even the wild landscape which influences her work comes through in every piece to result in a charming style that is recognisable throughout her portfolio – be it illustration, pottery or stained glass.
Annalee Donaghy –
Annalee Donaghy is a textile designer who has had her work admired by not only a Scottish audience, but also on the national stage at the prestigious New Designers show in London. During her time at Herriot Watt University, Annalee developed an extremely classical style using watercolours to portray flowers flowing across silky plains, as well as the more animated sights within nature – fleeting birds and crawling insects. I’ve been lucky enough to know Annalee since school, and have enjoyed seeing her artistic talents develop into the world of printed textiles from cushions to wallpaper designs. I greatly look forward to what the young designer produces in future!
Amy Shore –
Hearing the roars of classic cars whilst admiring their stunning lines has become a hobby of mine lately, with the infectious atmospheres surrounding classic car shows. For Amy Shore, it is an everyday occurrence, as the automotive photographer is quickly building a large client base – recently shooting for Bentley Motors and Farer Universal – and producing collections of photographs which never fall short of capturing the true essence of automotive culture in a way that can only be described as dreamy and beautiful. An ambassador for creating a higher profile for all of the talented women in the photographic world, Amy often shares her story at national events, and inspires thousands of young photographers through her Instagram account, which shows the British photographers’ unique take on shooting cars. Depth of field and light are used to create photographs which are more like works of art as opposed to merely ways of documenting grand moments, and (like the best art) never grows outdated or tiresome.
Gillian Easson & Claire Dufour –
As I reach 1700 words I realise that this is probably one of the longest blog posts I’ve written, and deservedly so. It would not be right to quickly skim through everyone’s work, when everyone produces work that needs to be shouted about so loudly. Often found shouting about and sharing others’ work, Gillian Easson and Claire Dufour are among the heart of the small but brilliant Creative Dundee team, who strive for the use of creativity and community for good; through inclusivity, accessibility and simply enjoyment. Gillian co-founded Creative Dundee back in 2008, and in doing so, started an organisation that changed the city and the experiences of everyone in it in a massively positive way. Gillian works tirelessly within not only Dundee’s creative community, but also on a global scale, working towards equality in design amongst many other causes – and has been praised for her work by being included in Creative Review‘s ‘The Creative Leaders 2018‘. During my time at art school, I found that the best way to get time away from the studio, but remain creatively stimulated was Creative Dundee‘s ‘Make Share‘ events, organised by the wonderful Claire Dufour. It was through these events that I came to know the Creative Dundee team, and I am continually grateful that I managed to attend the monthly event, which ultimately enhanced my time not only at art school, but in Dundee as a whole. Thank you, Creative Dundee!
Bethany Thompson –
Another key organisation in my enjoyment of my time at DJCAD was Out of The Blueprint; a social enterprise in Edinburgh who use risograph printing as a way to generate funds that enable young people the chance to get into the creative industries. Bethany Thompson is part of the OOTB team, using extensive risograph knowledge and passion for print to work risograph magic to realise posters, flyers, zines and more for artists and designers from every stretch of the country. As well as being a risograph expert and fantastic illustrator, Bethany is co-editor of one of my favourite reads, Counterpoint magazine. The magazine showcases the very best illustration paired with words from the most interesting of minds, printed in the environmentally conscious method of risograph printing. Bethany’s illustrations are instantly recognisable amongst the magazine, beaming with bold colours and shapes, enhancing a piece of print that is absolutely amongst my favourite examples of creative minds coming together to produce something for hundreds of people to enjoy.
Rhianne Connelly –
Monochrome photographs from the past are brought to life again through more expert print knowledge – screenprinting this time – in the work of Oh For Print’s Sake, which depicts iconic Dundee scenes such as Lochee High Street with the addition of modern bursts of colour. Rhianne Connelly graduated from DJCAD and now uses her skills with graphic design and print to create works which are not only impressive, but also greatly popular, on Etsy and Instagram. For lovers of all things Dundee, and all things print, I cannot recommend Rhianne’s work enough; bringing a modern twist to, and reviving, photographs that otherwise may be lost throughout the generations as the way we use photography changes.
Rachel Arthur –
On a sunny day in Dundee, whilst wandering in hope of inspiration, I picked up a copy of a new magazine in the DCA, called Boom Saloon. If the title were not alluring enough, the cover image of a young girl with flowing hair depicted in an artistic light with a neutral, hazy quality drew me in. From the very beginnings of the magazine, the ethos and aim of the publication have stuck with me – “to democratise creativity for good, and to inspire and empower through creativity“. Rachel Arthur is founder and editor of the Scottish publication (I still find it amazing and incredibly encouraging that such work is produced right on our doorstep and enjoyed all the world over!) and the mind behind the strikingly important ethos, which is carried into Boom Projects, which are funded through sales of the magazine and through creative wonders worked by the Boom Room. Rachel not only acts as editor, but also writes for the publication, which brings together a wealth of writing and art across many mediums to result in a read which is inspiring and beautiful in not only use of image, but also use of typography, graphic design and paper – for a paper geek, the uncoated pages of Boom Saloon printed at J Thompson Printers are a treat! Though perhaps the greatest achievements of Rachel and team behind Boom are their projects, focusing on inclusivity and empowerment across all spectrums and all backgrounds; the definition of inspirational use of creativity and the movement of creative people.
Rosie Malyn –
The final three women to feature are three whom I graduated alongside at DJCAD in 2018. All acted as a source of support and inspiration during my time in the DJCAD studios, and their final works were particular highlights at Degree Show. Rosie Malyn was my studio ‘buddy’ during fourth year, and in being so, was a ray of inspiration every single day. Even more impressive than her constant encouragement and support however, is her final year project; Culture KiD. Through the project, Rosie tackled the problem within society of a lack of knowledge and understanding of cultures other than our own, through a kit designed for nursery children. A collection of wood-turned dolls made from varying Scottish timbers were decorated by carefully hand-crafted capes displaying flags from around the world. The dolls were paired with a series of cards educating the children through play, on topics such as food, drink and wildlife from other countries. The finished product sat together beautifully, and when tested in the intended environment was thoroughly enjoyed by the children, displaying Rosie’s true understanding of user research and how to convey this into a finished product, as well as a passion for equality and universal understanding.
Sarah McHutchison –
Sarah McHutchison is a product designer who designs for people, in the most sustainable way possible. Her final year project, Awear honed in on Sarah’s skills with textiles and attitude towards fast fashion, through an interactive installation which made users aware of the impact their consumption of fast fashion and throw-away lifestyle had on workers and the planet as a whole. Sarah used a hand-crafted ash frame to display a collection of cloths, each embroidered and illustrated with objects relating to the creation of garments, which were lit and acted as a background to projected animations. The mix of a playful interation with such important ethical messages and opinions, crafted using only locally sourced, sustainable materials made the piece one that not only I remember fondly from Degree Show, but one that will be remembered by many more – and that even encouraged users to take the time to think about their greater attitudes towards sustainability and ethical production.
Rhia Cook –
In further DJCAD studios, the work of textile designer Rhia Cook could be found. Rhia used smart textiles and tongue-in-cheek humour in a bid to get young people involved with politics, and the huge affect it has on our country, through Political Softies. Jeremy Corbyn was knitted in a bicycle-clad knitted tank top, whilst Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon featured as collage faces on mini cushions and badges. Rhia’s knitting prowess blended with a political awareness and determination resulted in work that combined the more traditional and the new, and impressed the Degree Show audience in numbers. More recently, Rhia has joined the Snowday Spinning team, working with yarns and wools adorned with dreamy, muted tones.
It seems difficult to find a concise way to conclude, and to follow such awe-inspiring work by a group of women in the creative industry, doing things that cannot be matched. It has to be said, that of course there are many, many more women creating wonderful things every day and being a source of inspiration, whether they realise it or not. It’s good to shout about the people who inspire you.