Inspiring Artist-Casey York

At this early stage in my artistic career, I'm often inspired by other artists and creatives who are doing their thing.  I want to highlight some of them here and learn more about what inspires them and how they make it all work. 

 I recently sent out a call to some of my past artists from this blog, asking for some new names for this "inspiring artist" section of my blog.  My mom immediately suggested Casey York.  Casey is connected with my mom through the quilting world and makes really amazing, modern appliqué.  I actually already knew about Casey because my mom used one of her patterns to make this pillow for Sam (a pillow both Sam and I love!)  

I love that she takes her knowledge of art history and uses it to make these beautifully modern patterns (something I would love to do in my photography, reminds me of this class).

You can find Casey's online home here.  As she mentions below, her second book comes out in Spring.  It almost makes me want to take up quilting (but I'll leave that to the experts!)  

 

Photo by Randall Kahn, 2013

Photo by Randall Kahn, 2013

Tell us first a bit about you and what you do.              

I design and make modern appliqué quilts. Right now, most of my work centers on designing and writing DIY patterns for other quiltmakers. I’ve published several patterns and magazine articles, written two books (the second is due out next spring), and do commission work for fabric companies to promote their new fabric collections.

Photo courtesy of C&T Publishing

Photo courtesy of C&T Publishing

When and how did you discover this outlet?  Tell us about the shift from idea to action.

I’ve sewn since I was a child, and I became hooked on quilting about 10 years ago when I made a baby quilt for my first son. I didn’t consider doing it professionally until I was finished with graduate school and looking for a career that combined my background in art history with my desire to design things for a living. I joined a local guild where the members encouraged me to try publishing my patterns, and things really snowballed from there. Thinking about the shift from idea to action, I believe a large part of my doing these things has been being willing to try out new ideas even at the risk of them failing. I’ve had a lot of ideas fail, but if you never do anything you risk failing at, you never give yourself the opportunity to succeed, either.

From Modern Applique Illusions. Photo by Nissa Brehmer, provided courtesy of C&T Publishing

From Modern Applique Illusions. Photo by Nissa Brehmer, provided courtesy of C&T Publishing

How do you manage your time and energy?  How do you make your art a priority?

I’m very fortunate in that my family has the resources to allow me to work on my creative business full-time. (Author Ann Bauer wrote a very interesting piece about how many creative professionals are “sponsored,” and I strongly believe that this is an aspect of the conversation that we need to be open about.) That said, there are so many aspects that go into running a business that I’m never at a loss for something to do, be it creative or otherwise. I like that I can have a running list of tasks that meet both my need to be creative and my need to take a break from that now and then—sometimes nourishing your creativity requires taking a step back to allow inspiration to percolate for a while.

photo by Casey York

photo by Casey York

What struggles have you faced and how have you overcome those struggles?

I think my number one struggle has been with rejection, which is something that every creative professional encounters but that we don’t often talk about. Unfortunately, having your ideas turned down is simply part of the process of putting them out into the world and eventually having them accepted. It stings, but it’s important to realize that it’s a (necessary) part of the game and not take it personally. Once I accepted that it happens to everyone, the concept of rejection became less threatening and submitting my work as broadly as possible became easier.

photo by Casey York

photo by Casey York

Who or what inspires you?

On a design level, I’m inspired by the everyday details that we often take for granted. I firmly believe that “inspiration is an activity”—it’s there for finding if you go looking for it. While I obviously find lots of inspiration in the art and architecture I studied as an art historian, it’s often the small, “decorative” details that make me pause and ignite new ideas; I’m a poster child for the value of looking closely.

On a business level, I’m also inspired by people who have had an idea that they couldn’t not pursue and who have made it work for them. While my business will never be as big as Jonathan Adler’s, for example, I really admire what he’s built and how forthright he is about his journey as a creative professional. I’ve recently started attending local events for business women in various industries, and I find useful information, encouragement, and inspiration in talking to people working in many different types of businesses—sometimes looking outside of the box is the way to find new solutions to challenges.

 

Casey, thank you so much for taking time to share your thoughts.  Such good stuff.

So much of what Casey said contains universal truths.  This one stood out to me today:

"I believe a large part of my doing these things has been being willing to try out new ideas even at the risk of them failing. I’ve had a lot of ideas fail, but if you never do anything you risk failing at, you never give yourself the opportunity to succeed, either."

I know we can all relate to that one.  Be sure to check out Casey's work and her blog.