I came across Hillary Fayle's work recently, and as an artist that works with embroidery as a medium as well, I just had to contact her. Hillary's work is so unique - very different from other work I've seen of late - and she has already been featured in embroidery publications.
Hillary began embroidering on leaves in the States after studying embroidery at Manchester Metropolitan University in England. Her preference is to use environmentally friendly materials in her art, and leaves are a perfect choice for her. She not only embroiders leaves; she cuts them in intricate forms as well. Much of Hillary's work is custom, and she can be contacted here for special orders. You are in for a visual treat!
What does Creativity mean to you?
I relate creativity to the act of creating something, which is actually a phrase I don’t love, because I am not creating something from nothing, I’m making something that already exists into something else.
How do you expand yourself creatively?
By being around other creative people, or the products of their creativity. Looking at the things that inspire me, plants, typography, boats, art…
Were you creative as a child? If so, how have you evolved through the years? Did anyone encourage you, especially?
I always loved to make things, and as I got older I acquired actual skills which made the things I made into more finely crafted objects. I have encountered endless support and encouragement in my life from family, friends, mentors and peers. I am very grateful for this support in my life and I do feel that it has shaped who I am and how I feel about my artistic practice.
What inspires you most?
Birds, plants, boats, typography, good graphic design, old things, contour drawings
What turns you on creatively?
Starting to make something, a piece, a drawing, a letter, etc. When I begin something and really like the way it’s going, I just want to make more and more.
Do you have any gratefulness practices?
No, I don’t, I actually have not heard of that term, but I think I like it. There is so much in my life that I am thankful for, and taking the time to recognize that is something I should do more often.
Do you daydream often? If so, does it inform your work?
I daydream as often as anyone else does, I think. I would say that I am a practical and realistic person and so I do not tend to get carried away with day dreams. I do have a doodling habit, and I think that this very much does inform my work.
How does a relationship and/or children affect your creativity?
I find that sometimes it’s difficult to split time between my studio and my home life. I want to be in both places, but not together. I don’t really like to mix them, so that means I need to manage my time effectively.
How do you care for yourself to ensure you’re available when ideas present themselves?
I try always to carry a sketchbook with me so that I might be able to save thoughts and ideas when they hit me. Other than that, I try to eat right and get enough sleep and exercise, because that always makes me feel better equipped to handle anything.
How do you balance life and art effectively? Or, do you?
Balancing my life and studio practice is not always easy, and it is rare right now to find equality in the way I split my time. Ideally I would be able to split my time down the middle, but that is almost never the case. Sometimes the scales are tipped vastly in either direction, but I think that if I didn’t have the flexibility to take care of things as they came up, I would eventually have to choose one or the other.
How do you deal with creative dry spells? Do you make space for them, or push through?
Sometimes the hardest thing for me is starting. I could sit the whole day just doing nothing because nothing really strikes me, but when I feel like that, the best thing for me to do is just start something, anything, even if it isn’t wonderful, I find that it gets the ball rolling.
How do you deal with change, especially when it comes to creative mediums and passion?
Change can be wonderful and it can be sad and difficult, but embracing it seems to be the best way to deal with it. Change always means new paths to walk down, new discoveries to make; it’s just a matter of being open to it.
How does criticism affect you?
Criticism is great. Sometimes difficult to hear, and not always accurate, but sometimes, certain things can really ring true, and cause me to re-evaluate why I am doing what I do. That can be difficult to swallow if I’don’t like where that puts me. In all think it’s really healthy to get some perspective on what I’m doing and how others perceive that.
Has your work ever been copied? If so, how did you deal with it?
Sure, I have actually had a woman come up to me at a show and say, “I’m just taking a picture of this leaf so that I can go home and make it.” While I found that to be a bit offensive, I think it’s sort of in our nature to see things that we like and to think that we would be able to make them if we wanted to, but there is a line between borrowing an idea or a pattern to work off of and plagiarism. I just try to think that if there are people out there with the ability to do what I’m doing, that they possess both skills and morals, and wouldn’t just downright copy my art.
How important is self compassion to your creative process?
I don’t think I really think about self compassion very much, in the sense that it plays into my creative process. Sometimes I indulge myself, by allowing time for tinkering with this or that idea, even if it doesn’t really fit into what I need to accomplish that day.
Do you have any other mediums you use to express yourself creatively?
I love to draw.
Do you enjoy collaborating, or prefer to work alone?
I love the idea of collaboration, but it doesn’t always work the way you envision it to, which I guess should just be included in the definition of collaboration. In my experience, I have found them to be as frustrating as they were rewarding. I think in general, I prefer to work alone, but working together with others creatively every once and again is great too.
Do you work in a studio/space designed specifically for your creativity, or on the spur of the moment/anywhere inspiration strikes?
I sketch anywhere, and sometimes travel with my art, but most of the time I am in my studio working. It’s where all my supplies are and I find it easier to work there.
Is it important for you to have a creative, inspiring environment?
Absolutely. The first thing I do in a new space or a new studio is hang photos and things I find inspiring all around me. I also need the space to be extremely well organized clean to feel like I can work that day.
Do you plan thoroughly for projects, or go with the flow?
Mostly I go with the flow, unless I am doing illustration or design work, in which case it is completely planned out.
Do you have a preferred way of cataloguing ideas?
I just write them down in my sketchbook, and that way they are at least compiled in one place.
Do you utilize social media? If so, how?
Not very often. I keep a blog and a website, and if there is an exhibition or new work, I’ll post that, but otherwise, I try not to spend too much time on the computer.
What is your typical day like?
Wake up. Make coffee. Get dressed and ready for the day. Maybe go to the gym or for a run, maybe not. Walk or ride bike to the studio. Drink coffee and do a bit of internetting. Start working on something. Drink more coffee. Work off and on for the rest of the day, breaking for food, classes and conversation. I try make time to eat dinner with my boyfriend. Generally, unless I have a big deadline, I am done after dinner, I try to reserve the rest of the evening for home time relaxing and talking about the day.
Do you have any rituals that help to set your creative time and/or space?
Not really, I like to have things around me that are special to me and that inspire me, but no real rituals.
Does spirituality and/or culture play a role in your creativity?
I don’t think so. I don’t think of my self or my work as overly spiritual. I think the closest I come to that is the peace that I find in nature, taking walks and gathering beautiful leaves and other curious things from the forest. I think that really sets the tone for a lot of my work.
Do you believe art can change the world? If so, how?
I think that art has and does change the world all the time. Seeing or hearing something that makes you feel a certain way can change the course of your day. Even if it changes only one action out of a thousand, it has changed the way you have thought about the world. I think that this happens all the time and that we are constantly influenced by the art around us.
Do you believe that connecting with your creativity, or helping others to do so, can positively affect the world? If so, how?
Of course. I think that if you can express yourself creatively, you have an outlet for your energy. Without that I think there is a tendency to be bored and unhappy and unfulfilled. If you feel better about yourself then chances are you will express that outwardly to the world. If we were all a just little more patient or kind or aware of those around us, the world might be a nicer place.
Are you active in your local art community? If so, how do you help and support each other?
In a sense I am active within some circles of my community. With fellow students, absolutely, we are like family to one another. Within the community of botanical artists, I am starting to get to know them better and to be more active in their community as well. I would love to be more involved, actually, but I feel that the longer you live in a place, the more that happens on its own. Since I have not lived in Richmond very long, I feel as though it will come eventually.
Do you surround yourself on a daily basis with creative, inspiring people?
Absolutely. I think that graduate school is actually a forced creative environment, which is wonderful. There is always an abundance of creativity all around me. If I were not in school, I think I would seek that out more through lectures, workshops, and the by going to the coolest cafes where I imaging all the really creative people hang out.
What effect do you want your art to have on the world?
I hope that when people see my art, they are struck by wonder, and by beauty. I hope that by seeing it, they are more open to seeing beautiful things all around them. I also hope that they may feel a sense of preciousness and delicacy in nature, and perhaps a sense of stewardship. That would be my greatest hope, actually, to instill a sense of responsibility for the environment in my viewers.
What music, if any, plays while you work? What are you listening to at this very moment?
I am not listening to anything! That is abnormal, but sometimes if I need to write, I just like to do it in silence…the faster I can get it done, the sooner I can go back to listening to music! It all depends on my mood, but I love Indian classical music, folk-y soft music, Bon Iver, The National, Son Lux, alt-J, Gayngs and Phantogram have been on my list lately. I’m also a sucker for really great (and arguably not so great) hip-hop.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
“Work your ass off” and “Say yes to everything” The latter, I think, can get you into trouble sometimes, and it’s important to know when to say ‘no’ to something, too. Working your ass off, however, will never steer you wrong.
Do you have any advice for aspiring creatives?
Just start something, even when you feel like you can’t. And believe that you are good enough to do what you want to do. I think artists can be their own worst enemies when it comes to self-confidence. Just make what you want to make because you really want to. Follow your heart and your hands.
Do you have any upcoming projects/collections to share?
Not until the spring, when I will have an exhibition at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA in addition to my MFA thesis show, which will be at a location still to be determined.
Where can we find your art?