From Dallas, Texas
Based in Dallas, Texas
What a day! We interviewed fascinating Shaylee Southerland about her art journey, ways to be inspired, experience art, books o read, questions to ask, and many more
A: Please, tell us a bit more about yourself. What brought you into art?
S: I’ve always had creative outlets outside of my 9-5, first as a freelance designer, then as a wedding photographer. When I first started weaving and exploring other forms of fiber art, I never even thought about it turning into a business. I was taking a break from the side hustle of life and wanted to learn this art form purely as a personal practice. Making things with my hands has always been a form of meditation and relaxation, and the repetitive nature that weaving can bring was a new extension of that for me to explore.
I started sharing what I was working on with a few friends and colleagues, and eventually found a great community of fiber artists to connect with on Instagram. It wasn’t until a few friends asked me to make pieces for them that I even considered selling my work publicly. I eventually connected with the design team at Common Desk when they commissioned a piece for their space in the Trammell Crow Center in Dallas, and have since made custom pieces for three of their other locations. My business has really grown organically through social media and networking. I’ve been fortunate to make custom art for people across the country and am now doing this full-time.
A: What inspires you the most?
S: I’m inspired by nature, and I always see the potential for art in landscapes everywhere I look. Beauty is all around us if we choose to see it.
A: Do you have any specific rituals while working(creating)?
S: I love listening to podcasts while I work. It’s not a visual distraction and it keeps me engaged in learning something new, exploring unique stories and perspectives, or simply for entertainment. I also listen to music quite a bit, sometimes putting on a 4-hour ambient music playlist so I’m less tempted to change things frequently when I’m in a flow state.
A: What would you recommend to someone who's new to art (an artist or just an admirer), what to begin with?
S: Explore and follow other artists in a variety of mediums, not just your own! Social media can introduce you to so many new-to-you art forms that you can be inspired by for your own work. For instance, I love following painters. When I look at paintings, I can often see connections with fiber. You never know when an image will stop you in your tracks and give you new ideas.
A: Your top 3 favorite adjectives related to art?
S: Flow, texture, and large. I love working on large-scale heavily textured pieces, so those two are obvious for me. Flow is more descriptive of a mental state of mind, fully entranced in the creative process where time is lost and accomplishments are many.
A: The best angle to look at art is from ..?
S: …whatever angle pulls you in. With my work, I frequently find myself rotating my head 90 degrees, or even looking at it completely upside down. When you look at a piece of art from different angles, you see something new all the time.
A: The perfect phrase to start any conversation about art is: ..?
S: …what are you inspired by? Everyone is inspired by something, be it nature, sunsets, fashion, cityscapes. Getting to know what motivates or appeals to someone can be a great way to bridge art with personality. I do this often when I’m talking to clients about a new piece and it helps me connect their sense of self with what inspires them visually.
A: Must-read books to talk about art (or do we even need them)?
S: I love Windy Chien’s “The Year of Knots” – it explores her journey of becoming a full-time artist while also teaching readers what she learned throughout her experience.
A: If you could change one thing in the art world, what would it be?
S: I wish there was more open and honest information about connecting with art advisories, designers, and curators. So much of that is learned on your own, especially for second-career artists who didn’t attend art school or who don’t have gallery connections right off the bat.
A: Please, share your favorite quote (not necessarily related to art).
S: A Michael Scott quote from The Office, applicable to art and life:
“Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.”
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