Name: Debra O’Connor
Location: Kitchener, Ontario
Tell me a little bit about what you do with your site?
I am a professional artist by training, and I spent the first 10 years of my career working behind my easel. Just a little over 2 years ago, I decided to step away from the easel and returned to school for an MA. It was amazing. I wanted to learn all I could about creativity: Why people are creative. How they are creative. Why creativity is important. Why some people are drawn to create so much more strongly than others. When I finished my MA, I knew that I wanted to help people be creative, whether it is getting people involved in doing the creative endeavours themselves, or enjoying someone else’s creative talents and skills. This was the basis for Daylilies.
How would you describe your style?
The Daylilies site certainly does reflect a lot of who I am as an artist, but since the focus of the website is more about creativity than me as an artist, there isn’t one distinct style. I am always trying new projects or working with new materials or ambeing influenced by a new idea someone shares. The website is also growing, and as we grow, we will be featuring other artists and creative people who will bring their own creative inspiration to the conversation. Ideally, I would describe the site’s style as open, inviting, inspirational and creative
Did you have any mentors who impacted you along the way?
I actually had 2 professors from my undergraduate fine arts degree that taught me that art is a living, breathing thing that can be experienced anywhere – in a gallery, a home, a schoolyard, etc. One of these professors has continued to be a mentor over the past decade. More recently, my reader for my MA thesis was a wonderful influence in terms of the way she talked about creativity as being inclusive. There are a lot of ways humanity tries to confine our understanding of creativity, and this professor was quick to make sure that we always talked about creativity from a larger, more encompassing and inclusive perspective.
What does creativity mean to you, and what does the creative process add to your day to day life?
Creativity is everything to me. I have a hard time separating creativity from anything in my life. I know that seems like a pat answer, but creativity is involved in so many little things. Every time I make a choice, there is an element of creative involvement. I can’t just look at creativity as what happens in my studio. From the way I style my hair in the mornings, the clothes I choose to wear, the accessories I choose for my house, the path I choose for my walk that day, what changes I make to the dinner recipe, it all seems to come down to an element of creativity in choice and expression. The work I do on specific creative projects are for me a more definitive expression of this overall creativity that I see in day-to-day life. That is why I find it very hard to believe if someone says that they aren’t creative. Surely there is something creative in everyone’s day or life – although sometimes you might just have to look harder to find it.
Where do you find your inspiration?
This is a tough question. I work hard to find my inspiration. Some days this is easier and some days it can be quite a difficult task. I am a huge believer in library books, and I usually carry at least 15 books home with me every week (not to mention magazines, cds, dvds, etc). I also indulge in browsing websites. I love to look at sites and groups that interest my friends and family. I have wonderfully creative friends and family, and keeping up with what they find fascinating keeps me busy and provides a lot of inspiration. And, the more I work on something, the more I have other ideas, and the more I want to see how this or that will work. Sometimes I find that this is the absolute best place for inspiration. And sometimes it is hard to leave the studio for that reason.
Is this your full time work?
Yes, and then some. But I love every minute of it.
What's the best part of your day?
The best part of my day is that moment when I realize that everything is quiet and I have time to ‘get lost’ in whatever I happen to be doing that day. Generally I can find an hour or two somewhere in my day when the noise and busy-ness of life tend to give way to those precious moments.
What's a favorite item that you've made or a project that you're excited about working on?
I was really quite shocked when the Vintage Scarf Tote Bag project led me to making a tote bag from a vintage hand towel. When the scarf bag turned out, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the vintage hand towel I had in my drawer, but I honestly wasn’t sure that a hand towel would make that great of a bag. I couldn’t have been more wrong! When I first started blogging, I had this strange desire to use smocking as part in a journal project. I was shocked then, too when the smocking turned out to be a very natural fit with journal making. I have a feeling that this same sort of phenomenon will happen again, and then whatever it is will turn out to be my next favourite project.
What do you hope others experience when they visit your site?
I hope that they will be inspired. I want the Daylilies site, and the blog to be all about creative possibilities. And I want my visitors to know that I really am interested in what they do. I believe that I am successful every time I can help someone be creative.