Artist Jaime Derringer on the evolution of her work and life outside of her wildly successful blog, Design Milk.
Jaime Derringer is the founder of Design Milk, Dog Milk and Adorn Milk, cohost of the Clever podcast, a runner and a musician. Jaime gave us a peek into her life and businesses, from creating without boundaries and the importance of evolution, to maintaining an identity outside of her brand. Read below to find out about her art philosophy and her ideas about experimenting in the digital space.
Consort: Did you undertake formal training within the art industry?
Derringer: I have no formal training in art! I taught myself everything I know, which is most likely just the tip of the art iceberg but I like approaching things with a sense of curiosity and naiveté.
C: When did you start taking it seriously, if ever?
D: I’m still not taking it seriously…I guess at some point I should…but not too seriously!
C: What inspired you to start showing and selling your pieces?
D: People asked me! I am flattered.
C: Tell us about your studio space, how it influences your work and supports your design process.
D: I work out of my garage, but I also consider my couch to be my studio space too because that’s where I end up doing most of my drawings (I gotta keep up with Netflix!). My garage is not inspiring at all, however, I listen to music while I work and I tend to get inspired elsewhere (nature, etc) and bring my thoughts, ideas, and photos with me into the studio. The garage space is raw enough so I can make a mess without being too worried about it. In previous places, I was working in a bedroom and always worried about making a mess on the carpet or the walls. Having a dedicated space for art gives me a better sense of freedom, which is part of my process.
C: What part of the process excites you the most?
D: I think when I get inspired or excited about a new thing. It could be an idea, a material, a method, an instrument/tool. I love the feeling of not knowing what is possible, which then makes anything possible!
C: How has your design career influenced your artwork?
D: In so many ways. I think the creativity of the art and design community is very inspiring. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, a new idea comes across my desk that sparks excitement and curiosity. Knowing that there are still new ways to reinvent the chair or the table gives me comfort in exploring art and pushing old ideas into a new place.
C: What’s your design signature?
D: I don’t think I have one. I used to think that Design Milk was my design signature, but as a person, I’ve outgrown the boundaries of my brand. Being exposed to new ideas and styles, color and pattern, keeps things from being stale and predictable. I definitely see an evolution in Design Milk, but maybe not to the extreme that I see in my own life.
C: Do you ever do commissioned pieces?
D: Yes, sometimes. My time is very limited so will only take on a few.
C: If so, what aspect do you enjoy most about commissioned projects and which do you fear the most?
D: I fear that the client will not like it. I don’t really like the pressure of being obligated to make something. I like creating without boundaries. So, when doing a commission, I prefer to work with clients who are more flexible and adventurous! People who respect me for my creativity.
C: What would you most like to make that you haven't made so far?
D: Sculpture. I am making assemblages (I call them “messemblages”), but they’re temporary installations that I create and dismantle. I think doing a permanent piece would be awesome.
C: How has your work evolved?
D: Oh SO MUCH. Someone once told me as artists, it’s our job to change, to evolve. I was often frustrated when I was starting out, wanting so badly to have a “signature style” but what I realized is that it comes with time and that your signature style is ever evolving. Like your personality, like life. I think my work has become more complex. Once you’re getting too comfortable with something, it’s time to move on.
C: Now that you're experimenting in the digital space, do you find that you have a preference between traditional and new age art?
D: I prefer traditional art, because I’m not sure I love the fact that with digital art, there’s always an “undo” button, an opportunity to erase and start over. That puts more pressure on me to not make mistakes. But mistakes are where some of the best art comes from.
C: What do you enjoy doing apart from making art?
D: I have a young daughter so I’m usually coloring or braiding hair or something to entertain the kiddo. But, in my free time, I run, do yoga, and read (if I have time!). I also enjoy making music and I’m learning how to use digital and analog instruments and equipment. I don’t like being bored, so oftentimes, napping is my only form of “relaxation”—my brain has idle hands.
C: What is your first memory?
D: Being in a crib in my first house.
C: What is the first piece you sold?
D: Well the first piece of art I ever sold was a silly digital print of birds named Francine! It’s totally ridiculous and unlike anything I’m doing now. The first original piece I sold was a colorful geometric mountain drawing. I still see this kind of work in what I’m doing today.
C: What can you first remember really wanting?
D: I’m not sure. I always wanted THINGS, toys, etc, but I think the thing I wanted more than anything was freedom.
C: When was your first kiss?
D: In a bathroom at our local public pool. Wow, that brings back so many memories!
C: What was your first car?
D: I had a white Chevy Beretta with a spoiler and ground effects. It was badass, but a total POS.
C: What was your last phone call?
D: My husband called me about booking an upcoming (and desperately needed) staycation sans-kid.
C: What was your last meal?
D: I had a granola bar and an apple as a post-lunch snack around 3 PM. I eat this snack every single day at the same time.
C: When was the last time you were drunk?
D: I’m not sure but I went out with friends about two months ago and partied pretty hard. I don’t drink very often, so when I let loose it can be a little crazy.
C: What was the Last Emoji you used?
C: When was your Last Vacation?
D: What’s that? I had surgery last year, and spent a few days drooling on the couch… does that count?
Photos: Jaime Derringer
Portraits: Noa Azoulay