Friday Favorites: Quilt Artist Luke Haynes
I am inspired by so many things, I decided that every Friday, I will highlight a favorite person, thing, or idea. Maybe you will be inspired too! See all past Friday Favorites here.
Today I bring you the quilted world of Luke Haynes. I learned about Luke through his exhibition at Island Quilter last year that I couldn’t attend (boo!). A self-proclaimed “architect turned quilter”, he creates quilts often using used clothing (my favorite fabric for quilts). His pieces can be powerful, tongue in cheek, thought provoking, and stand alone statements.
From his artist statement:
“I am interested in the choices we make to express ourselves to our world. The most apparent form of this is our clothes. We create an environment around ourselves to inform others how we desire to be perceived. By quilting I am initiating a dialogue between the immediate environments we create for ourselves, and the environments we inhabit. Where cloth, what we know to respond to as clothes, becomes the language of my work. The cloth becomes the medium that I use to create images and scenes rather than conceal and contain.”
Interestingly, I also realized when Luke and I were emailing each other, that he currently lives in Seattle, but was born in North Carolina, just like me. Small world.
And because I am fascinated a day in the life of an artist, I asked Luke some questions and he graciously answered.
1. You describe yourself as an architect turned quilter. I think that is a fascinating career shift, could you talk about that? Are their similarities you discovered between the two?
Things you learned as an architect that helps you as a quilter/artist? If you had it all to do over again, would you have just gone straight for a fine art degree? In my practice the two are very similar. Architecture is an aesthetic and functional problem solving. Quilts serve a purpose as well as have a visual and tactile reference point to the viewer/user. I learned SOO much from the field of architecture that is aplicable to quilting and my career in general. First is the need to present an idea through the use of imagery and object, so my quilts have in them a thesis that suggests to the viewer/user my concepts and process. Second is the ability and willingness to discuss process and concept; having years of presenting ideas to professors and clients really helps develop a language for discussing in many ways the ins and outs of my practice. Third is a love of craftsmanship and an eye for detail and scale. I learned through looking at buildings and objects the importance of materiality and implementation, I make quilts as quilts, they are made strong for use and visually clean for looking. Architecture is loosely a means for taking complex problems of utility or space or material and answering them. I do that with my quilts as best I can. I wouldn’t have gone for an arts degree. Technique is SO important but that to me comes parallel to application and function which aren’t the focus of Art schools. I wouldn’t change my skill set for more time learning visual media. [Though that means that I am later in life still working towards a mastery of many pieces of fine art media, drawing, painting etc.]
2. You are a full time artist and so many dream of making that leap. Can you describe a typical workday for you? Do you have a studio outside your home?
I do have a studio outside of my home. I am not sure its the best choice, because I work more and longer when I can eat and take breaks in my own home, though there is something to be said for the separation, I couldn’t work in my living space. I’d become a crazy in less than a week. I need a mental break. I dont have a typical work day. some days are computer days. [I’d say that 40% of my work is outreach and Social Media and client relations. ] Some days are 12 hours straight sewing lines on a quilt. I struggle to create a stable schedule so I don’t work too much or too little based on external sources. [like weather or if a fun person is visiting my city]
3. I find that once I finish a quilt, I am creatively exhausted for a short time. Does that happen in any way to you, and if so, how do you fuel your creative energy to effectively move from project to project?
I have no lack of ideas waiting for implementation. If I get done with a project I have a wall of next ones ready to make and any that have occurred to me in the time it too me to complete the last ones. I get lost from time to time, but that is most often way less than the time it takes for me to make a quilt. [hundreds of hours sometimes] Plus there is SO much to pull from for inspiration out there. including my own half done exhibitions.
4. A goal of mine this year is to be better at recording creative ideas in a sketchbook, things come and go so fast through my brain sometimes I totally lose a creative thought if I don’t record it somehow. I wonder, do you use a sketchbook to record new ideas or work directly from what you “see” in your mind’s eye?
Though its not always in a sketchbook as I dont always have one at hand. Most often its a note to myself in my phone to look into later. I do have books full of ideas from years past, that I am excited to look through and see what there is to learn. My adice is to record every and all ideas. that helps you hone details and to free your mind to continue to innovate instead of trying to remember larger ideas.
5. I read your interview in the current issue of Uppercase Magazine (Issue #16) and you mentioned “Marketing Mondays” as being an important part of your work life as an artist, can you describe a little about what that is?
I set aside each Monday to work through social media and to answer emails I have put off through the week and to do some outreach. Take time to ground yourself in the world and to contact those interested or those potential clients or friends. For me its paramount to make work that is a product of my life and surroundings and I can only know that if I research. Plus I can let Social media get away from me and spend all week every week on it or forget for months, so if I set aside time specifically for it I make sure to have a good amount and not let it control me or get forgotten.
6. I love that you do a self-portrait quilt every year and use it on your own bed. Have you done 2013’s yet?
I havent made 2013 yet. Honestly I am still working on 2012. Don’t tell!
7. What does the future hold for Luke Haynes? Where would you like to take your work?
A move to LA. Several more Museum shows and lots of threads caught in the lint trap of my dryer. I want to learn more about my craft and to strive to understand the community of makers I exist within.