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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Meet the Maker - hjrd Design

Please tell us who you are & what you do?

Helen Riley-Duddin, based in Dunedin and am best known for my range of magnetic wallscapes which I design and produce. This is just a fraction of my working life though, I'm also a design lecturer, graphic & communication designer, and of course, Mum (of one) and wife - and have become quite a proficient juggler of all these things!

How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?
I started producing the magnetic wallscapes just 7 months ago when our daughter was 8 months old. I've always worked, studied and lived 'creativity' - but since Jemima's arrival and my shift from teaching design full-time a new source of inspiration emerged. It was from our transition from young working professionals to new parents whose living space was now shared with the delightful chaos of a growing child that sparked the concept of the wallscapes as something halfway between art and play.

I studied in Design and Marketing and have Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce degrees - while I was studying I pursued all sorts of freelance and part time design projects. I currently teach part time on the Communication Design and Interior Design degree programmes at Otago Polytechnic. Jumping back years before that I would sell jewellery I made in my lunchtimes at High School and would hold stalls to sell painted lightbulbs and du-kit brooches at local markets whenever I could!

Is there a story behind the name of your shop?
hjrdDesign = the design work of Helen Jeanne Riley-Duddin.

I have to admit I didn't put a lot of thought into the name as at the time I was just intrigued to see what the world thought of my wallscapes -- now though I'm preparing a new name and branding!

How long have you been creating for?
I've been creating the wallscapes for 7 months. But creating started for me at a very early age! I still remember the buzz from winning a colouring competition, and the $1.50 prize for a photo entry at the local AMP show. I used to spend a lot of time painting, when I was younger I would design and create a new annual calender for my grandparents every year, I made clocks, jewellery, painted lightbulbs, loved photography and everyone's birthday or special occasion was celebrated with a handmade card.

Is your business a hobby, a profession or a happy marriage of both?
Until recently I justified it as a hobby, but my work has been so well received and it takes so much time that things are getting official...

Describe your work setting.
I'm lucky enough to have a separate studio amongst the garden in our backyard. When we bought our house it was a very ramshackle sleeput, its still pretty ramshackle but it's my space for creative chaos. It's great to have a separate place away from the house that I can 'go to work' to and 'come home' when I'm done each day despite 'working from home'.

Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? hjrdDesign is primarily run by me, but my husband is a significant contributor in the finances, photography and general strategising.

Through work I'm part of a huge team of talented designers who help to keep me current and challenged, and some of my close friends are great advisors.

What is your process? My process begins with conceptualising new wallscape designs, and a lot of time is spent sourcing the perfect materials to upcycle (chosen for their tactile and aesthetic qualities), once I produce them I photograph every set and package it with a custom label showing arrangement suggestions.

How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?A life - what's that!? For the last 6 months or so I've been working day and night (to the early hours) whether it be designing wallscapes, producing them, marketing them, photography, photo-editing, networking, adding listings, teaching, marking, meeting, or designing other projects I'm currently employed for... So the search for finding time for 'having a life' is very much a current theme!

Why do you do what you do? What inspires you? When do you get most excited?
I've found real inspiration in a nostalgia for youthful experiences and imagination through watching Jemima grow and learn. I have to credit the concepts of the wallscapes to her undoubtedly. I do it because I love it, I've always loved designing and making, and it's wonderful to create things that she and us can enjoy together. The buzz of someone purchasing your work is the ultimate excitement that sparked me first when I was younger selling at markets.

Can you remember your first sale? What was it?
I think the first thing I ever sold was probably a toffee apple I made to sell alongside my painted lightbulbs and du-kit jewellery when I was about 13. The first magnetic wallscape I sold was on Trademe alongside bibs I was making at the time - I think it was a set of lovebirds made with fabric offcuts from my wedding dress! The designs have been refined since then, and I learnt a lot from my early Trademe customers who really encouraged me, several are now close supporters on Facebook.

Have you ever been in business before?
No, not officially! This is very exciting!

At what point do you consider yourself successful?
When every magnetic surface in New Zealand and beyond is graced with something from my magnetic wallscape range!

In the shorter term I look forward to hiring a team of fresh talented designers to help produce my ideas!

Where do you do your best thinking?
In that almost-surreal time just before I drift off to sleep - generally around 2am.

What stops you from giving up when you are frustrated?
A new order or enquiry on my range, lovely feedback from customers and positive publicity all keep me going through the challenges, and of course each time I see little Jemima and her friends enjoying interacting with their wallscapes.

If you had time to learn a new skill what would it be?
The font-geek in me wants to answer with typography design, but the craftsperson in me would love to find the time to learn crochet from my mum as she learned from her mum.

When you are not involved in your craft/business- what can you usually be found doing
Hmm this is a very rare occurance! I look after Jemima fulltime, so if I'm not teaching, or designing on other jobs I like to spend those precious free moments entertaining her with family and friends, at the gardens feeding the ducks, local cafes or happy day trips to coastal Kakanui to my parents' organic market garden.

Do you have a favourite handmade purchase?
I adore my Nikau necklace from Blackswan designs, and have worn it most days since Christmas when my husband gave it to me!

Do you buy on impulse or do you go out looking for something you need?
I'm guilty of both, especially the former!

1. What is the last thing that made you belly laugh? Seven Days last night! It's a never-fail weekly belly laugh

2. What book is on your bedside table? Perfume by Patrick Suskind

3. What was the last cd/ipod track etc that you listened to? The Woolshed Sessions, have to admit I played the album 3 times over in the studio today!

4. Where do you hide your secret stash of chocolate? It never lasts long enough to stash so there is no such place!
5.What statement do you hear yourself say to your kids that remind you of your upbringing? "Home again home again jiggety jig" (sung tunefully) when arriving home after being out.



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