Diane is one of those artists you meet and become taken with immediately. She has laser focus without pretence and radiates sincerity and intelligence. These are the characteristics I notice in her work, as well.
Her designs are without superfluous detail, with an eye for editing that reveals a beauty of form, shape and line. She sees refinement in modest forms, but avoids the coldness and oversimplification in some modern aesthetics.
I met Diane at a gallery opening, where her tufted ceramic headboard was making quite the splash. I introduced myself and we chatted for a bit before exchanging contact information.
We decided to meet at her studio, Espiritu Design, in Chinatown, Downtown Vancouver. It was there that I was fortunate enough to sip tea out of her blue ceramic cups, eat sweets and engage in a lively discussion about her work as a ceramic artist and soft product designer.
Diane, can you tell me what does “selling out” mean to you?
Finding oneself in a situation where one has allowed someone else to take an unfair advantage, to allow someone to under evaluate your worth.
Do you have a personal manifesto?
I’ve adapted the idea of “finding the courage to pursue your personal legend” from Paulo Coelho’s novel the Alchemist. The idea of having a personal legend is a motivating force that has led me towards the direction I’m taking in life.
Developing my practice as an artist and designer is the best way I know how to build that legend. It gives me purpose, a sense of accomplishment and joy.
When I design for clients, that purpose translates into under promise and over deliver.
Does your work allow for happy accidents or do you work out every detail beforehand?
I’m all for embracing happenstance. Some of the most interesting details stem from these happy accidents. I feel as though the more you collect experiences, the more apt you can become in creating the circumstances from which they are allowed to grow.
The difficulty lies in identifying how powerful the potential of happenstance can be, since it was not what you had set out to create. It helps to be observant and open-minded.
What’s the best advice you ever received from an art teacher?
I have received so many valuable lessons that didn’t always come in the form of advice, but if I could share something that inspired me beyond the life drawing lessons, it is that you must first learn to see before you can draw.
What’s the best advice you received from an artist?
The best thing another artist has ever shared with me was a clear glaze recipe.
I was looking for a recipe to fit the clay body I use for functional ware and I was running into challenges with others not wanting to share their glaze recipes. Eventually, a ceramic artist directed me to a recipe from digital fire called Low Expansion clear. We dub it LE best!
How do you organize your work day?
I do my best to prioritize projects that are on the go at the studio and according to deadlines for delivery. In addition to working through the design process, the working day includes corresponding to emails that require immediate attention.
I often create lists when there are numerous tasks that need to be completed and the duties that require me to be at my sharpest have highest priority. When I work with my hands at a familiar task, I can lose all sense of time and will likely work well into the night.
I’m always trying to find ways to make efficient and effective use of my time to further my experience of running a design firm and understanding what makes a successful business.
In three words, how would you describe your studio space?
Idea – Make – Laboratory. My home away from home is how I would describe it in five words.
How has collaboration changed you as an artist?
When you have the opportunity to collaborate with other artist(s) or designer(s) and where you challenge one another to bring the best of your abilities to the project, I imagine it as playing an instrument in an orchestra. Your ability to captivate an audience is magnified as a result of complimenting roles.
Collaboration has changed me in many positive ways. It has encouraged me to improve my communication skills and learn new ways to approach problem solving.
If you had to describe yourself in six words to another professional, what would they be?
Mindful – Optimistic – Sincere approach to design.
What networks and connections are crucial to your sanity and productivity as an artist?
My family plays a critical role to my productivity and peace of mind. My husband, Euclid, is my rock and biggest fan. Euclid partnered with me to bring the vision of the studio to life. No one has ever believed in my creative endeavours as much as he has. He’s incredible.
We named the studio Espiritu Design Studio as homage to my father for whom I feel gave me the talent and resourcefulness to shape my abilities into a career path. It’s important for me to share my successes with them, as I encounter my successes on this journey.
My closest friends and design colleagues are my extended family and they are my inspiration. They encourage me to be a person of action and accelerate.
The mentors are the teachers and technicians who have given me tools to hone this craft and find discipline in my practice.
What current project are you working on that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning and run to the studio?
It’s really important for me as a designer to find that spark in every single project. I try to find something about each project that I can connect with. We all have days when we don’t connect right away, but if I can find that spark, it brings more fulfilment to my day.
I also have some interesting design concepts I’m playing with for the Chinatown Night Market and I’ve sent out my feelers to people that I want to collaborate with.
The Night Market is a place where people buy trinkets, but I’m betting on some interesting design concepts and a different approach, just see what happens. I would love for the Chinatown Night Market to be the next self directed project.
You can find more images and information on Diane’s design practice at espiritudesignstudio.com. To view Diane’s paintings, photography, prints, drawings and other fine art work visit her personal website at dianeespiritu.com
I hope you enjoyed reading about Diane and her work.