CREATIVE Q&A: JENNIFER CHRISTIE | Wandering Coast Collective | Fibre Artist & Textile Designer
Jennifer Christie is fibre artist and textile designer, and founder of the Wandering Coast Collective. She designs and makes contemporary woven textiles for the home, from wall hangings to cushions and rugs.
I’ve been following Jennifer’s work for a while and found her tapestries so sublime that she just had to be invited to take part in this Q&A. Scroll down to read her answers and get an insight into what makes her tick…
Jennifer adores experimenting with texture and colour, often taking inspiration from nature and landscapes. The mission of the collective is to collaborate with makers and artisans in developing countries, together creating beautiful, unique and sustainable homeware.
Describe your creative style in 3 words
Playful, embellished, textured.
What made you decide to set up your business/be an artist?
I’ve been fascinated with textiles and fashion since I was a teenager. I studied textiles and then went on to Uni to study Fashion, and specialised in surf lifestyle clothing. After graduating, I moved to Cornwall and became a womenswear designer for one of the UK’s leading surf brands. I’d landed the ‘job of my dreams’, but it wasn’t what I’d imagined. Although the location and lifestyle were amazing, I didn’t find the job very fulfilling or creatively satisfying. I was also far away from my family and friends and so I got very lonely and bored in my free time. Instead of just hanging out in the pub, I did the nerdy thing and bought my first weaving loom and spent most weekends and evenings making little tapestries (I came across one recently and it’s so embarrassing!). I eventually left Cornwall and drifted about for a little while trying different things, including prop making and event styling, to creative marketing for an online coffee company. I also bought myself a bigger loom and continued weaving in my spare time, I just found it sotherapeutic and it fulfilled my need to be creative. To cut a long story short — I was fed up working for other people. I became resentful and thought, “Why oh why am I spending my precious time on Earth working to make someone else’s dream a reality when I could be working for myself?”. Turning 30 was the catalyst. I was a grown-up, I had no excuses. I had a decade of experience under my belt and thought it was time to grab the bull by the horns and dive right in to creating my very own business. Now or never.
What are you most proud of so far in your career, any highlights you’d like to share?
Well I’ve only just begun setting up my business, but I’m incredibly proud of myself for creating the space and opportunity to be able to do it, and just going for it. I have a toddler, he’s beautiful, but hard work. He’s a full time job on his own, so some days it’s impossible to get any work done, but I still plug away — even if it means staying up until the early hours. I have a very exciting vision of my business in five years time, so at the very beginning I laid out a plan with clear-cut goals, so however chaotic life gets, I always know which direction I’m going in. I’m proud of myself for that.
Which artist or designer inspires you?
It really depends. I’m a fickle creature. Currently obsessed with the art scene I discovered in New Orleans. Uncomfortable, macabre and a little kitsch. It’s a style I’d like to experiment with. I’ve been a bit one track minded with my own work recently, focusing a lot on pop culture themes — mainly cacti and botanical because they’ve been well received but they’re not necessarily my true calling.
Favourite tool you use in your creative practice?
My Ashford rigid heddle loom of course! Although I’m very keen to have a go at making my own.
What top tip would you give to anyone who would like to turn their creative passion into their career?
Stop thinking about it and just do it. Right now. Even if you don’t know where to start. Start anywhere. Starting at the wrong place is better than just sitting there procrastinating and wasting precious time. The only way I found my true direction was by starting in all the wrong places. Sometimes the only way to find what works is to first find what doesn’t. Also, always envision your business in the long term. Step as far away back as you dare and take a good look at your future business. How would you like your dream business to look in five years time? How should it look when you’re halfway there in two and a half years time? Now think about what you need to achieve by the end of this year to make sure you’ll meet that goal... etc. Break it down into manageable and realistic goals.
What are you reading now?
Wicked River: The Mississippi When it Last Ran Wild by Lee Sanderson.
What music are you listening to at work/in your studio?
The album ‘Walls’ by Kings of Leon.
First app you open on your phone in the morning?
Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, or a Badger Beer (I’m a Dorset gal afterall).
Favourite flower or plant?
Outdoors - Rhododendrons and magnolia. Indoors - Anything subtropical so I don’t have to water it much!
Tea or Coffee
Coffee - A flat white made with oat milk (Yes, I’m a hipster).
Summer or Winter?
I’m going to sit on the fence and say Autumn.
Red or Green?