A series where we highlight a member of our Minted artist community. Featured this month: designer and photographer Whitney Deal, who lives and works in Wilkesboro, NC.
Whitney Deal interned at Martha Stewart Living magazine and studied fashion design at Parsons before moving into photography. Here, the multidisciplinary artist and maker shares a peek at her creative life in rural Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
Years of making and experimenting. I started out as a graphic designer, moved into photography, took a few years to learn the craft of garment design, and now my creative life is a mash of all those things. My husband and I ran a successful photography business for several years until we had children. We opted for a less transient lifestyle after that, so now I’m solo, blending my passions of photography, sewing, painting, quilting, and simply making all together, with a touch of freelance design on the side. Most recently, my second daughter had heart surgery as a newborn in 2014 which has led me to pursue an interest in medicine. My life and work is a blend of past experiences and a range of interests, and that’s the way I like it.
Did you study photography formally in school?
I have two undergraduate degrees, one in graphic design, the other fashion design. I started a grad program in photography but skipped out after a year because it wasn’t the right time for me.
Where do you currently reside?
A small town in western North Carolina where I was raised. I’ve had the opportunity to live in different types of places (Savannah, NYC, Raleigh) but now that I have a young family, the slow pace and familiarity—you just can’t beat that.
Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
Along with all of my creative endeavors, I also stay home with my two young daughters, so most days are structured around them. I maintain an Etsy shop with PDF sewing patterns, so I’m often found sewing up new designs or managing that store. I paint to relax, so when I have a few minutes to myself, you can find me with my watercolors. And of course my photography, which on a typical day means snapping memories of my girls.
Please tell us about your studio space.
I keep my sewing machine out, a table to spread out on, and a pin-up board beside me. And light, lots of light.
What are some of your own “rules” for living + working?
I get pretty excited and energized by productivity and it has taken me a long time to understand that unfortunately I can’t add more hours into a day; so learning to accept that sometimes you just have to surrender to the day and start again tomorrow is a rule I try to live by when balancing life and work.
What objects have been most significant to you lately?
It’s always been a sewing machine and my camera.
What is your creative process like?
I typically start with an idea and then it’s GO time. When the juices are flowing, I’m making. I have to remind myself to slow down and reflect.
When did you take up photography?
After college I interned with Martha Stewart Living magazine in the art department. I enjoyed what I did with that department but I was most intrigued with the photo shoots and what the photographer was doing. As soon as I finished up that internship, I bought a camera and took a few photography classes at a local art center.
What are your favorite subject matters?
I’ve always had a thing for still life. Give me a bowl of fruit on a table any day!
Do you primarily shoot digitally or with film?
Now I shoot digitally, mostly because of the expense of film, but every now and again I’ll pull out the film cameras and take it slow.
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