A few weeks ago the lovely team at Dear Handmade Life asked me to answer some questions about my path as a maker and the things I create. I thought it would be nice to post it here as well in case anyone missed it. Dear Handmade Life is a power house team of people started by Nicole Stevenson and Delilah Snell. They put together an awesome series of handmade shows each year Patchwork, a wonderful conference Craftcation and continue to share lots of great knowledge via their website and their new podcast! Here’s a few thoughts I shared via their blog:
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Miriam Dema, I’m an artist and maker based in Los Angeles, CA. I was born and raised in Northern California and I come from a long line of creatives. My husband and I live and work in the mountains above Los Angeles with bobcats and mountain lions for neighbors but we’re about 20 minutes from downtown, kinda the best of both worlds.
What do you make or do?
I make modern hand-crafted goods inspired by a love of adventure and exploration. This year that means hand printed and dyed scarves, a collection of souvenir inspired pennants, hand tooled leather goods, and always, my ongoing limited edition prints for the home.
Every item is cut, dyed, printed or painted and sewn at my studio using responsibly sourced materials that are high quality and archival. I hand print all of my goods in small batches using environmentally friendly screen printing techniques and water based inks. My fine art prints are all produced in standard frame sizes, the papers and other materials I print on are archival or recycled. I’ve been making things and selling them most of my life – what I make may change from year to year but it’s all inspired by the world around me and the things I see.
Where can we find your creations?
My website http://miriamdema.com has links to my store https://www.etsy.com/shop/miriamdema and blog https://blog.miriamdema.com/blog/. I’ve been sharing my work online since 2002 via my website and other online spaces. These days I post a lot of images to Instagram http://instagram.com/miriamdema/ of my work in progress, of our neighborhood and adventures into the world!
How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
I’ve been creating and selling the things I make since I was a kid. From ceramics and photography classes at a young age to art school where I received my BFA — through all of that I’ve made things and shared them with people who were interested.
When I finished school in 2001 I moved into a large loft workspace in Oakland CA where I was able to have a studio and show and sell my art work. I’ve participated in numerous group shows, solo shows and craft and hand-made markets over the years. When I moved to Los Angeles I also set up a studio that allowed me to continue my creative endeavors.
I’ve always preferred to have income coming in from more than one source, so over the years I’ve also had part-time jobs working in other artists’ studios, worked part-time for other small companies and filled in with various jobs here and there. Most recently (for the last 6 years) I work with my husband running our company SSR Sound providing Audio, Video and Lighting Rentals for events, corporate events, parties and weddings throughout the LA area.
Working from home and splitting my time between the day-to-day operations of our business and allowing time for making things has been a great mix. It allows me a great freedom to continue making the things I am excited about as well as be a part of fun events and celebrations that our clients are having.
When you’re not making things, what do you do?
Um…I’m pretty much always making something. Or rather when I’m not making something most of my experiences are being memorized and cataloged for inspiration for future projects. But if I’m not in the studio you can usually find me out on a walk around our neighborhood, going on an adventure to check out some new or undiscovered place in LA or further afield.
What’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
I have some new projects to add to the projects I already have in the works. This last year was a big year in that I took on wholesale orders for new products and started selling my work on websites other than my own. I would like to build on that and continue to share fun things with the world like some new designs to add to my line of souvenir pennants, new scarves and other wearables. I’m going to purchase an industrial sewing machine that can sew thicker materials and I’m not quite sure exactly what I’ll be making with that but it will be sure to open up some new project ideas!
If money wasn’t an issue how would your life change with regards to your art?
I would travel a lot more, and figure out more ways to make things in other places. Maybe take longer classes or study programs in other countries with artists that are skilled in approaches or techniques I would like to learn more about. I have a lot of day-to-day responsibilities so that isn’t an option right now – but you did say “if money wasn’t an issue”!
What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
It’s a long road. There is a lot of pressure these days for instant popularity, lots of likes and follows. I’ve been making since before the internet was a part of that conversation and I’ll be making things long after the way it is now. I just try to remind myself to keep my head down, make good work and enjoy the process along the way. There is inspiration everywhere but it usually comes from stepping away from the digital world and getting out to see, and do things. To stop worrying about how to craft the perfect blog post or get the most follows. Make good work. It will be around long after we are.