Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Interview with Diane Ericson

Diane Ericson, in front of a mud wall in Taos. She finds inspiration in clay and straw wall surfaces such as these.

As mentioned last week, I am attending Design Outside the Lines in Taos, New Mexico this September. Marcy Tilton and Diane Ericson lead this creative retreat and I thought it would be interesting to interview each of them specifically about their creative process. I posted Marcy's responses a few days ago, and here are Diane's.

It is fascinating to get a glimpse at the inside of a highly creative mind. I loved Diane's responses and they have given me a lot to think about. I will definitely refer to these again.

Thanks so much, Diane!

For further info:

How do you define creativity?

  • What is clear to me is that it is not a THING we do....but HOW we do EVERYTHING! Wow...just think about that. It is like the glasses you wear to see everything clearly....the view each of us has on the world. I know it has always lived in my most intuitive place—showing itself to me daily in new and playful ways. I am ever so grateful to be living and growing from all those layers below the surface.

Describe an early experience, when you connected to your creative self or realized that you were creative? Do you have an early creative memory that is noteworthy?

  • I spent a good amount of my childhood in the canyon behind my house growing up in rural San Diego. I wrote poetry, enjoyed my animals, and learned about the world by drawing and making things from the natural materials I found wonderous around me. Besides being an avid fort maker...I dug clay and made my own dishes...and even made a baby papoose carrier from woven sticks and canvas. I guess that might be considered an early 'bag 'project! The older I get, the greater the link I feel to that time and what it calls up in me now.

Creativity is fed by play. What is your favorite form of play these days?

  • I am in major mulching mode these days. Clearing, slashing and burning my way through my materials and closet! Okay...not really burning—but I am relentless in my attack as the stuff of my life rolls back and forth like the tide.....taunting me. Is there more the next day!?!...or is it just my imagination!? I wonder on some days, but I do need to keep the process in the play category in order to find something magic in the process. The goal is making space for the new to come into. I never question if it WILL happen, the challenge is keeping some of the distractions at bay, so it CAN happen.

When the mojo is wilting, how do you jump start it?

  • Change my routine. In fact, the minute it looks like I have one...I start to feel confined. Last week I started back to a weekly figure drawing session with a model. This gets the week going and gives me a playground that although I am familiar with, there is always a new way to explore it on paper. I always seem to crack open to another level when I start to get bored. Even if figure drawing is not a priority in your process...I encourage you to see if it is a place to play. I feel it is a core experience no matter what the media we choose.
  • Walking up the park here in Ashland along the river also stimulates my senses and energy...and I usually come home with a new stick or two. A favorite stimulation for me is making a collection of things, like tea cozies. Making 5-10 at a time, working them all in symphony is like making dough and dividing it up into different herb combinations and loaves......they all influence each other as they find their own form and flavors.
  • Share what I do with others: Last month, I made a sweet little baby vest for a fun—it got me playing and looking forward to giving it.

What is a mojo killer for you? Is there anything you avoid because it negatively affects your creativity?

  • Feeling that my life is repudiative and I am not changing and growing. Negative people who want to be in my space and life.

Do you ever have wadders? As in projects that are irredeemable? How do you handle this?

  • Yes, it is painful to leave them as they a reminder that so much energy was spent. I like to partially dismantle or even just cut off the part I find most interesting to put it back into my materials stash...that way I have the most opportunity to see something new in it as I cruise my materials again.

What is your current favorite thing in your studio?

  • My dressform with an in-process dress on it. I turned a linen dress inside out and been drawing on it. I want to combine it with a knit and a crazy zipper. It will be fun.

If I were to walk into your clothing closet, what would I notice?

  • Total chaos! My seasonal change from summer to fall is in process and it is staked to the hilt with stuff that is coming and going! I have a whole closet of fun, linen and white pieces that I have been wearing all summer long...but it is time to set the stage for the first cool day!!! I know it will be out there somewhere!

I believe that personal growth happens when you step outside your comfort zone. Has this been relevant to you? If so, how?

  • Oh absolutely...this is what makes us who we really are. There have been many defining moments in my life...most I wouldn't have chosen, that have created major changes and opportunity in my life. One of the most spectacular was going through a flood in '95 as a single mom. Overnight, the flood waters took everything and re-defined 'starting over' for me and my kids. I also got the chance to appreciate who we are for one another as friends I knew and didn't know, came in to offer support. So many gifts and challenges that gave me a much deeper connection to my creative spirit than I had known. My life experiences are always enriching the ways I express my creativity.


  1. Wow..."Marcy's interview would be a tough act to follow", I thought...WRONG! Diane's is every bit as exciting, real, definitive and thought-provoking...what a gift to have these words from these marvelous women...thank you, Shams, Marcy and Diane!

  2. Again, fabulous! Wonderful insight into such a creative mind. And I love that you changed up and tailored your questions to be pertinent to Diane as a different person and a different creative thought process/approach (although with certain common bases) in how she functions in her art and work processes as opposed to Marcy. Such wonderful information and (again) insight.

    Thank you, Diane for participating in this and sharing with all of us your perspective on the creative process. Thank you Shams again for coming up with this concept and making it happen. Both Marcy and Diane have been huge influences over the years in how I approach and think about what I do in my own ( however limited) creative process, so this has been an amazing addition to my knowledge and appreciation of what these two women have so generously offered to us. I cannot truly express in words what you, Shams, and Marcy and Diane, through these "interviews" have given all of us. Thank you.

  3. Thank you SO much, shams & Diane. I've had a rough go of it today, and just reading through this has helped loosen the knot in my tummy & put a reminder that this, too, can be viewed as play - thank you for the reminder to let the creative be alive, even (especially?) in the midst of stress!

  4. Wonderful interview. Thanks so much,Shams and Diane.

    Just want to say I was a huge fan of Diane's mom and miss her input of creativity to the sewing world. She would be so proud of Diane and her creative life.

  5. Loved this one too. Thanks one more time!

  6. Great read, shams.

    Diane's work seems multi-layered and richly textured to me, more about depth than color. Perhaps this is a reflection of her internal life, as seen in her interesting responses to your questions.

    Much to think about. Thanks so very much for this interview.

  7. Again, thank you both for doing this. Diane, I so appreciate your openness to expose your creative process. You know how much I love what you do....Anna

  8. Diane Ericson is such a delight. Somewhere around here, i have to find those Capitola pants. It makes me smile every time i think of her.

  9. Great interviews. Thanks to Marcy and Diane for their thoughts, and to you Shams for providing us with the opportunity to hear them.

  10. Thank you so much, Diane, for sharing your thoughts. The concept of repurposing hasn't been high on my creative agenda, but I think it would be a great way to give myself a nudge when needed. Thinking outside the box is always good, even though it's sometimes scary.
    Thank you again, Shams, for these interviews.

  11. Thanks Shams - I enjoyed both Marcy and Diane's interview. I know you will love the retreat in Taos - I went in '05 and still feel the creative fires that week started for me. Enjoy completely!

  12. I have read and re-read both this interview and Marcy's. In fact, have saved them to read yet again. Thank you Diane for sharing your art and your self with me. and now...upstairs to create.

  13. Thank you so much Shams, for another insightful interview with another of my very favorite people, Diane Ericson - her creative spirit has been such an inspiration to me, life changing really! I'm so excited for you on your adventure to DOL. Welcome to the tribe!

  14. Good read! It's delightful to find out I share something with Diane - figure drawing as a creative base.

  15. Hi Shams,
    Elizabeth from SEWN here. I am going to San Francisco Labor Day weekend and would love to meet up for shopping if you are around on Saturday, 9/1. Please email me if interested. I tried to find your email on your blog, but couldn't find it. Mine is eword10 at yahoo dot com.

  16. What wonderful interviews from with both Diane and Marcy. Shams, thanks for your creative questions and thinking of this opportunity for both women to share their thoughts.