I am extremely proud to welcome Donna Wilson to the Meet Your Maker fold!
You would undoubtedly be familiar with her niche range of quirky creatures and knitted goods which have taken the world by storm. For such a young designer, Donna has firmly carved out a successful (and long!) career that has been liken to famous designers such as Cath Kidston and Orla Kieley for her impact on the market.
Originally hailing from the Scottish countryside, Donna now resides in the hustle and bustle of London, working out of her studio with a couple of staff members. Her collections have recently expanded into furnishings and tableware that all exhibit Donnas unique fun style and characteristic design.
The Donna Wilson range is currently stocked in 25 countries which is testament to the huge success and demand for her unique style. Want to know more about this modern-day icon? Well read on…
Artist Name: Donna Wilson
Artist Location: London, UK
Type of Work – Medium: Contemporary Craft – Knitted homewares, toys and clothing, woven blankets and ceramics
This year your company celebrates its 10th Birthday, what an achievement! Can you share with us how you first started out?
I graduated from Grays in 1999, and then got a job in a knitwear company as an assistant designer for a year. I then went back to college to do my MA at the RCA, where I specialised in Mixed Media Textiles.
At the RCA I started making products and sold them in shops like Couverture and Supra Girls London. They started off as the long leggy dolls and evolved into slightly more disturbing knitted creatures with 2 heads or extra long legs, each with their very own character, the more peculiar the better for me.
How did you first learn to knit? How old were you at the time?
My grandma tried to teach me to knit and crochet when I was really young but I didn’t have the patience. Even now I’m not very patient for hand knitting, I prefer to machine knit.
We were taught the basics during my BA, how to cast on and off etc. That was 1996, and after that I taught myself the rest to get the effect that I was looking for. I always love the way I can create a fabric from a strand of yarn, in the texture, colour and pattern that I want.
Who or what inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
All over the place, the landscape, music, dreams, magazines, ceramics, Scandinavian design, people. Sometimes I just see a tiny snippet of something which triggers an idea, which is then developed into a product.
I recently went to a small, remote island off the coast of Newfoundland and came back feeling really inspired by its landscape, boats and houses, but normally I find inspiration everywhere. It can be a tiny bit of cloth, a picture in a book or found objects from my travels.
Recently you held a solo exhibition of knitted sculptures and paintings at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and next week you are creating an interactive installation as part of London Design Week. Can we expect to see more art events like this by Donna Wilson in the future?
Yes I’d love to – working on this scale is really challenging, it takes me out of my comfort zone which is always a good thing i think. I love creating these sort of environments for the creature, full of pattern and colour and imagination! It would be a dream to create a wooly landscape installation for a film or animation.
Where can readers see / buy your work?
You can purchase my products directly from our Donna Wilson Website, or from one of our many stockists worldwide. You can also keep up to date with all the latest news by following my blog, Facebook page or Twitter feed.
If you are in London next week we will be holding a 5 day retrospective exhibition and pop-up shop as part of the London Design Festival. Take part in one of the craft workshops, get your photo taken with some of my creatures in the photo booth or make your own raindrop to add to my knitting rainstorm installation. 96-98 Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4RH daily from Wednesday 18th – Sunday 22nd September 2013, 10am – 6pm, more details on our website.
Do you have any words of advice for aspiring artists or creators?
You have to be prepared to work hard with determination. Don’t be afraid to be different, and make your own path, you will be successful if you have something unique to offer so don’t compromise and stick to your principles.