James Donald is a weaver by trade, creating unique handmade scraves, bags and accessories under the name Pick One. He aso runs regular weaving courses from his studio at Coburg House, and is the proprietor of independent Edinburgh design and gift store Concrete Wardrobe.
What is your favourite piece you've ever created?
I think it would have been my first ever commission for Ann Sutton, who basically wrote the template for contemporary weavers … so to be recognised at an early stage in my career by someone I read about and studied at art school was recognition indeed!
What is your proudest achievement as an artist/maker?
That I am still going, still learning, still developing, expanding and managing to pay my mortgage! I’m also secretly chuffed that my woven work has allowed me to travel internationally, something that would not have occurred to me whilst at art school.
How would you describe your style?
Presently I would say it’s fairly graphic, my last collection was monochromatic with weave structures I had developed over a year or so, this years collection are combining these same graphic structures with pops of bright colour alongside areas of simpler weave structures. This year I’m taking a risk as I’m producing oversized infinity scarves and smaller big snoods … so there won’t be any scarves!
What is your ultimate goal for your work?
To keep going, to keep teaching weave classes from the PickOne Studio and producing relevant work, that would be hard to replicate for the high street, that folk want to be seen in.
What kind of things inspire you?
Fashion, colour combinations, Japanese aesthetics, 60’s/70’s ceramics (I collect!) travel is a great inspiration for me and it doesn't matter where I go to, I always come back to the Scottish land and seascapes for a real creative kick. I know it’s a cliche but its also a truism Scotland does provide a wide and varied range of inspirations, although I think the trick is knowing where to look.
What customer do you have in mind when you design?
It changes from collection to collection … but I tend to people watch and observe what folk in the street are wearing and how they put clothes together, I do look at various trend forecasting sites, magazines to see what and what not to do. I also think about what celebrity would wear a particular collection and take it from there …
Is the idea of creative collaboration important to you?
Very much so, for the past 18 years I have been collaborating with printed textiles designer, Fiona MacIntosh through the curatorship of our retail space Concrete Wardrobe, what started out as a pop up shop has gone on to be a space where we sell and promote Scottish based and trained designer makers. In 2005 we were voted for Scottish retailer of the year and we were up against Harvey Nic’s … we didn’t win, but to get a nomination was gratifying and further verified what we were doing. People forget that when we started with Concrete Wardrobe there was very little else on the market supporting independent Scottish makers … now other retailers have followed and its been a tricky balancing act staying true to what we believe in versus mass production, imports and shifting attitudes to shopping, selling and the rise of internet selling, not to mention dealing with banking horrors a few years back. I would never have been able to do any of this without this collaborative relationship with Fiona, so yes collaboration has been vitally important to me as a makers and a business person.
What has been the greatest influence on your artistic career?
Another shifting smorgasbord of delights and it would be very tricky to pin this down to any one influence, but its safe to say that the people I am surrounded by at Coburg, Concrete Wardrobe and my online community of weavers and makers who help to form my artistic and creative career.
Which is more important in your work- the process or the product?
As a maker, who survives off my own endeavours both should go hand in hand, but the reality is the product. When I do get the time to re examine and develop my process I get a real kick out of the development through colour, shape,scale and structure and how that translates into hand woven cloth, which ultimately has to be beautifully woven.
What is the most important lesson you've learned as an artist/maker?
Diversification. Diversification has enabled me to look outword and develop my practice through developing non woven product ranges, running weekend/evening weave classes and now developing week long speciality weave classes, mentoring, running Concrete Wardrobe etc … for me this has been a template to survival as a creative individual.