Dee is the founder and creative director of Herron, a textile brand and weaving studio here in Chicago. She holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Fiber Material Studies and Sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has been weaving for over 15 years. Dee uses her knowledge of painting, drawing and sculpture to inform her textile collections. The thoughtful, abstract expressionist pieces are bold, graphic compositions that are derived from analog designs then translated with hand threading looms. Dee's refreshing and colorful craftsmanship is what drew in our friends at Hopewell Brewing Co. and what ultimately led us to her. It was wonderful learning more about Dee and seeing where her pieces are created. Make sure to keep an eye out for Herron and all of the gorgeous work that is popping up over town... The Winchester Restaurant, The Freehand Hotel and Hopewell Brewing Co.!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
My name is Dee Clements, I am an artist and designer and I am the founder of Herron, a textile brand + weaving studio in Chicago. I have just released my first collection of hand woven rugs and mill woven blankets under my studio label. This new collection of blankets is inspired by abstract expressionist painting. It is unique in that it marries an analog artistic process with the industrially produced. Woven in a newly revived weaving mill on Chicago's west side, using Virginia grown cotton. The rugs are handwoven on dobby looms in my Chicago studio. Using traditional methodologies and domestic wool, it is an analog process from start to finish. Bold and graphic statement pieces that decorate the floor or the wall, each are made to order, signed and numbered. My business is one half art studio and one half small manufacturing.
Where do you find inspiration?
I think inspiration comes when it wants to come. At least it does for me. There is not one place I turn to or a bank I take an inspiration withdrawal from. I think that it is really important to take time for oneself. We live in this culture that respects the workaholic and the overachiever. I really believe that inspiration comes when one gives them self time and space to breathe. Experiences and travel-I had the opportunity to visit Scotland last fall and the rich landscape and friendly people were endlessly inspiring to me.
What tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started?
It's a lot of pressure to demand that your creativity be your bread and butter. I would advise someone starting out to make sure that is a demand they want to place on their studio practice or art. It really does become a job and way more than a full time job. I also would advise to have some savings or a safety net of income-unforeseen things happen when you least expect it when you are starting out, it is inevitable. Also when the unexpected does happen, stay calm and breathe. These are the parts you learn the most from.
You wear many creative hats–do you have a favorite?
Of course my favorite is the making!
Do you like collaborating on projects?
Yes! Right now I am collaborating with my friend, artist Chad Kouri. He designed some beautiful monochromatic compositions for the company Basecamp and I am weaving them. We have a similar aesthetic and have been friends for a long time so it's fun to have creative exchange with him.
Does having a full time job leading and creating at Herron drain your creativity or fuel it?
I'd say it's a constant pendulum between the two. I am a one-woman show, running a creative small business has many non-creative jobs that are really time consuming and sometimes there is a learning curve to them. So when I do make the time to design and create new work it's truly precious to me. That is the space that is uninhibited and open. I enjoy when I get to be in that space and hope to cultivate much more of it.
What keeps you motivated and making?
I am motivated to put textiles into the world that have integrity, beauty and transparency. My way of producing textiles pairs an artistic process with small manufacturing. I am passionate about the conversation of quality over quantity. My textiles are transparent down to the seed and the hands that make them. My blanket collection is woven in Chicago with cotton that is grown, milled and dyed on a farm in Virginia. Like farm to table food, these are farm to table textiles.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A friend of mine who is a very successful businessman is absolutely fearless. He believes all of his projects will succeed. That kind of confidence is remarkable to me and it is something I really strive for. The sheer positive belief that there is no option but to believe in yourself. I think that is the best advice anyone could ever give.
Photography by Mike Killion