Whether you've had a good week or bad, at least Friday is almost here!
Today I am excited to be posting about one of the highlights of my Spring Break last week: Meeting the Dana Gibson!
For those of you who aren't familiar with Dana Gibson and her work, you are in for a treat today! Dana, a local Richmond artist, is known for her punchy, bright home accessories which can be found in more than 700 stores both near and far, and even internationally.
Her studio is right around the corner from my house, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit and tour the studio, chat with her, and of course, do a little shopping!
I immediately felt giddy when walking into the studio
and seeing all these pretties!
After introductions and initial scan of the space, I sat down on a couch next to Dana surrounded by these two fun pillows (here and here) and immediately felt at ease. She has a calm, down to earth demeanor and is someone I can imagine laughing with over drinks.
My first question of her was about the early days of her art career. She shared that she enjoyed art as a young girl and grew up taking classes and traveling. I was surprised to learn, however, that she was not initially on an art path. About 20 years ago while she was in graduate school and teaching writing at the University of Virginia, she took a ceramics class for a bit of an escape. While in that class she discovered a love of ceramics, particularly using her hands to create something new and beautiful. Ceramics were her focus for about 10 years and it was these ceramics that first caught my eye several years ago.
While she still makes an array of ceramics (see the full collection here), she soon felt a desire for more color. With ceramics, you are limited to pastels, and Dana yearned for more rich, vibrant colors in her work. Working with a friend and shop owner in Atlanta, she began creating painted wastebaskets and pictures frames. Available in just about any color palette imaginable, these remain as some of her best sellers today. I had an especially hard time not coming home with the wastebasket pictured below:
She discussed that in people's busy lives today, they have a dream of organization and that she thinks her pieces do well because they can assist in creating an organized, yet beautiful life. Her collection of trays, cups, and cachepots can all be used for storage and we laughed about throwing your junk or mess into a pretty cachepot to declutter and create an organized life (or maybe at least, the illusion of one). I loved absolutely everything in this corner of the shop and you can see a variety of her cachepots below.
My next big question, and the one I was most interested in, was about her inspirations. I learned that she finds inspiration everywhere, however the first inspiration she shared was fashion. She also went on to say that she was inspired both those that aren't afraid to break rules and combine styles that have never been combined before. We discussed how fashion and decor styles go hand in hand: While young, fashion is a person's first step into creating a personal style and that style can later extend into the decorating of a home. In both fashion and decor, she is grounded in the traditional, but loves to mix it up with strategic color and modern pieces.
The traditional, yet rule breaking style is evident in all her work!
I dared her to share a favorite color and piece with me...not a small question, as she has so many wonderful colors and pieces to choose from. A color: Pink. A favorite piece: Her Leopard. He can be found in many different pieces and is "a fun guy" and also a customer favorite. She also feels a fondness to her graphic pieces as well as her narrative pieces that tell a story.
Finally, I asked where she'd like to go next and about her vision of Dana Gibson for the future. She shared how fun her venture into fabrics and wallpapers with Stroheim (see here) has been and that in the future she would really love to expand into bedding, rugs, and dinnerware. I say, bring it on!
I was in heaven flipping through this book of her fabrics.
While discussing the future, Dana also mentioned a little bit about marketing and the customer aspect of her work. She shared that as an artist, it is important to listen to the customer and focus on what they want in addition to your own wants as an artist. She loves seeing the direction her customers take with her work, and we talked about this fabulous potting shed that she shared on her Instagram, which incorporated both her Stroheim fabric and wallpaper.
Last, but not least, I got to tour the studio and learn a bit more about Dana's process. In studio, she designs and paints her initial pieces. She then works with several different companies in India to produce them on a larger scale. With her guidance, each piece is created and painted by hand and then shipped here to Richmond, where Dana herself and just 2 other employees check each and every piece for perfection, sort it, and ship out to buyers and retailers.
When I first arrived Dana was working on one of her
latest creations, this fabulous pink gingham print!
While retail is not is sole purpose, the Richmond space serves as a bit of an outlet for those pieces that do not meet Dana's exacting standards. While "imperfect" the pieces still felt pretty perfect to me and I was awestruck by all the goodness surrounding me.
And I'm sure you readers can guess that I couldn't visit Dana Gibson's studio without bringing something home! Her favorite leopard lumbar, in pink, of course, is now mine, and I am absolutely smitten with him! He hasn't found a permanent home but is currently resting in this little corner nook of our bedroom that is usually my last stop when finalizing an outfit by topping it off with a necklace!
Are you a fan of Dana Gibson?
What are some of your favorite sources for design accessories?
Where do you find inspiration for your home?
Have a great day!