5 Minutes with...Louisa Dunn

We chat to Louisa Dunn about her journey of making art her living and what inspires her

Louisa Dunn at her desk

Louisa Dunn is a textile designer and collage artist based in Charleston, America. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Louisa has a BFA in Fibres with a background in textiles. Treating collage and design as a daily practice, she creates with a keen sense of colour and shape, and interweaves the practices of sewing, collage and drawing in all her work.

In her spare time, Louisa enjoys nothing more than holding workshops which are designed to introduce groups to collage and composition. A two hour class where individuals can connect, enjoy a drink and nibble whilst getting creative.

With this in mind, we caught up with Louisa ahead of her first collage workshop with us in our Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh store - 3rd June - tickets here!

Collage Workshop in Italy
Sewing and nibbles

We are so excited to welcome you to Biscuit for a (Scottish) summer collaging class - Can you tell us a little about your background and how you got into being a full time artist?

I’m so excited to be here! Absolutely. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing, painting, playing piano, making jewellery, friendship bracelets … the list goes on! 

And from a young age being a designer was the only thing I wanted to be! I went to university to study textiles, particularly designing prints and patterns for fabric and wallpaper. When I graduated, I moved to Charleston to work for an independent textile designer, and continued to create my own work outside of my “day job” and began teaching workshops. 

At the end of last year the company I worked for relocated to a different state, and it was the perfect time for us to bittersweetly part ways and for me to try my hand at working “for myself” full time! Charleston has a super supportive creative community, and steadily and organically I grew my community via workshops, Instagram, and collaborations and am truly so grateful and excited to be able to make things with my hands every day!

Your process and style is both unique and instantly recognisable - can you talk us through how you go about designing a piece? Is there always an intent before you start?

I really like to work in series, and I think of my work as a daily exercise in color and composition! I will find a subject, recently flowers and tablescapes, and will make as many iterations as I can think of until I feel like I’ve run through all of the color combinations and material combinations that excite me. 

Often times I’ll find a newspaper or material I want to use, and that can spark a whole new idea. With a background in textiles, particularly in screen printing, my brain totally thinks in terms of color separations, colorways, and negative space - and I feel like that definitely comes through in my pieces! 

One thing I love about collage is what limiting my materials to fabric, paper, and thread can do for expanding my options of what to make. I can be pretty indecisive, and so taking out the part of “mixing the perfect color” and rather cutting it out, leaves more mental space for me to make creative decisions! I love to finish a piece with some stitching in a pop of color, I think its a really satisfying way to bring the piece together and to introduce one more color to the mix in a punchy way!

Louisa Dunn - Gene
Louisa Dunn - Gene's Table

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I enjoy following ceramicists, interior designers, and other artists I admire on Instagram! My Instagram saved folder has no end. It’s inspiring to me to know that other people are out there doing it too, and making it work! I also live in a very beautiful historical city called Charleston, South Carolina (it’s “old” for America!) and am surrounded by color and interesting architecture around every corner. I’m only ever one walk away from being inspired by what’s around me. 

What would you say has been your biggest achievement thus far in your career?

Honestly? I am so so thankful and proud of the relationships and friendships I’ve been able to build through clients, and workshops, and collaborators! My relationships are probably the most valuable thing in my life. On a more tangible achievement, I got to work with a brand I really admire, Loeffler Randall, at the end of last year on three special projects! They opened a store here in Charleston, and I got to work with their founder Jessie on a dinner in celebration of the opening, create three pieces of artwork for their store, and work on a screen-printed tee together! Working with people I admire a lot is always the best feeling.

Jessie Loeffler Randall and Louisa Dunn
Loeffler Randall Event

Would you say covid had any impact on your work or creativity - did it spike creativity, draw you inwards etc?

Definitely! I was actually finishing university right when Covid began (I had three months to go!) and it kind of changed all my post college plans! It also gave me a LOT of time to finish projects that I had put away for “later”. It always feels good to “finish” something, but I also find it super inspiring to revisit a creative “moment” from a different time. Most importantly, I think it taught me to be stay flexible, grateful, and to not hold onto things too tightly! 

You often hold workshops to teach collaging - what do you enjoy about this process of teaching new methods and techniques to individuals who may have never done anything like this previously?

There is SO much to love about it, where to begin!!? 

My favorite part of teaching collage classes is everyone sits down with the same materials, and over the course of a couple hours I get to see each person create something so wonderfully different and unique to them. Its so inspiring to me personally to see how twenty or so people all think and go about their pieces so differently! Another favorite part is seeing people who may not believe themselves to be “creative”, or have lost their creative confidence, come into the activity a bit shy and anxious about what to make, and leaving so proud of themselves, and with a new little burst of life in them! I think everyone has creativity in them, and it’s such a mindful, low-risk, low-cost practice tome that I love to get to share with others.


You love to travel and find inspiration in your surroundings - where are you off to next / where would you love to go next?

I do! I do think it’s good for me to completely break my routine every once in a while and be able to experience a new place and new people. I have so many places I would still love to travel … Copenhagen and Stockholm are high on my list, as is Lisbon! Lots and lots pattern inspiration is waiting for me there I’m sure of it!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to make a career out of their art?

My first boss always told me “stay in your lane, there is room for everyone!” I think that is such good advice about keeping your head down, and most importantly, not letting the time and energy spent on comparison or competition take away from the time you could be creating! Be kind, and be relational. The creative world can be as big or as small as you make it, and you never know when you may work with someone. Stay consistent in your practice, creativity is a muscle in not only the “skill” factor, but training your eye for composition, color, and honestly confidence. One thing always leads to another, you just have to show up!

How would you describe your style and do you have a style icon?

Capable, playful, layered, and textured. Oh boy - I have so many! I would have to say Meg Ryan in almost everything she’s in, but especially “You’ve Got Mail”! I love everything about her.

What’s next for you?

Great question! I’ll head to London after Edinburgh for a couple of weeks, and then back to Charleston! I am lucky to live in a place where so many people love to vacation, and I am excited to catch up on reading some books at the beach! Next on the travel docket is a potential trip to Monterey, Mexico to visit a friend, and then I’m returning to Italy this fall with BlandBadger to teach again, which is where I met dear Amanda last year. All good things ahead!

Bland Badger Retreat
Jammie Dodger

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