Creative Loves >> Darbie of Field Guide Design


This is the last Creative Loves interview of the year... I've featured some fantastic ladies this year (all the interviews can be found here) so thank you to all of you! I'm ending 2012 with the hugely inspirational Darbie of Field Guide Design... Darbie lives in Kingston, a small city in the Hudson Valley just North of New York City.  She designs handmade paper goods and jewelry for her shop, plays music with her husband in two bands: The Last Names and Bishop Allen, and does some graphic design and art restoration on the side. Welcome Darbie

Can you tell us about your work space? I live and work in a big old Victorian house.  My husband and I moved from Brooklyn to upstate NY because we both worked from home and wanted more space so we could take on bigger projects.  My design studio is on the 2nd floor and my silkscreening table is in the attic, where my husband also has his recording set-up.  I'm a nester and a collector, so I like to fill my workspace with all my books and trinkets and treasures and scraps of inspiration.  The furniture is all things we picked up at yard sales.  Old metal flat files, specimen drawers, card catalogs, mismatched lamps, antique work tables, and bookshelves.   

Have you always been creatively driven? My parents both went to art school, so I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with paintings on every wall, a library full of art books, and two studios filled with amazing supplies.  I ended up majoring in graphic design at RISD, and knew right away that I didn't want to get stuck doing anything too computer-based.  I love making things with my hands and experimenting with materials!

What inspires you, where do you go for ideas? I'm endlessly inspired by vintage ephemera.  I love nothing more than digging through piles of junk at yard sales and antique stores.  Whenever I'm stuck on a project I leaf through all my old books and stacks of vintage magazines.  And nature walks are great.  I love collecting things from the forest floor:  pine cones, feathers, acorns, rocks, leaves.   

Please tell us about your current creative loves...
Illustration >> Maira KalmanMike Perry
Graphic Design >>  Grain Edit
Blogs >> Design SpongePoppytalk
Magazines >> BullettLula

What is a typical work day for you? Hmm...there's really no such thing as a typical work day for me.  It always starts with coffee in bed and about an hour down the internet rabbit hole.  After that I could be silkscreening paper, chipping rocks, painting pocket knives, gluing strings on ornaments, packing orders, making post office runs, weaving records, assembling necklaces, recording songs in the attic, or making prototypes for new designs.

How do you approach each brief / project? What tools and materials do you use to create you work? I have a notebook where I write down all of my ideas for new projects.  I seem to always think of things when I am drifting off to sleep, so I keep it right next to my bed.  When I am ready to move on to something new I go through the list and see what speaks to me.  I don't think of myself as a jewelry designer, or a graphic designer, or a textile designer.  I like to keep it open.  When I'm dreaming up new ideas I can really let my mind wander and not feel limited by a specific set of materials or tools.  This usually means that the things I use to create my work change entirely from project to project.           

What projects are you working on at the moment? The month of December has been all about fulfilling holiday orders for my etsy store.  Night and day.  Like a good little elf.  Come January I am going to delve into my list and see what's next!  

What has been the most interesting or exciting project you've worked on? I really loved designing the woven paper cover for The Last Names record.  The Last Names is a band I started with my husband.  We had been playing music together in Bishop Allen for a few years, but this record was our first true collaboration.  It was really cool to be a part of the songwriting, and then to sing the songs, and then to design a visual element to compliment them.  We did a small, limited-edition vinyl pressing, so I was able to do something super handmade and over-the-top for the artwork.  I designed a series of patterns to be woven into a die-cut record jacket with colored strips of paper.  When somebody orders one we weave it in one pattern, but each record comes with extra strips of paper and a pattern guide for reweaving, so it's interactive and endlessly changeable.  We made a video that kinda shows how it works.   

In terms of your work what couldn't you live without? All of the bits and baubles I've collected along the way that I use for inspiration.

What do you love most about what you do? Having an idea and seeing it come to life!

What do you want to do in the future? Take a vacation!

Where are you happiest? Hanging out by the fireplace, listening to records with my husband and my sweet cats.

Thanks again Darbie!


What a lovely post! I adore those polyhedra paper ornaments.. I enjoy your blog very much. Jane

Blue Eyed Night Owl :

Such a great interview! And what an amazing house, love it!

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