Carrie Bloomston is a fabric designer living in Phoenix. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she had her first one-woman show when she was 17. The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity is her first book.
Why a creativity book?
I have been an artist my entire life. My first business happened when I was 12—I was splatter-painting T-shirts—and my first art commission came when I was 13. When I noticed people were attracted to my kind of fabric, I realized that what I had to offer is an innate understanding of creativity, color, art, and design that I have assimilated through my life. I call myself jokingly a creativity enabler.
You’ve said it took a decade to get over art school.
I had a 500-sq.-ft. studio growing up. I’m not the child who didn’t have enough support. When I went to art school, it was a really fracturing experience for me. They kind of break you down on purpose. You’re forced into doing things, and you’re terrible at some of that. It’s so good to be terrible at some things—that’s where you learn.
Does your formal training as a painter influence what you do today?
In a big way. The formal aspect of what I learned was that presentation is everything. You don’t half-ass the way you do something. I use that core idea in everything I do, emphasizing high levels of craftsmanship. Craftsmanship is different from perfectionism. If you’re making anything—any object—you want to care very much for that object.
How do you work on fabric?
When I sit down to make fabric, I do it with scissors and glue stick, and what I do is playing. I’m having a good time and I’m playing around. I’m using “beginner’s mind.” That Zen Buddhist concept is amazing and helpful. If I stay in beginner’s mind, the place of play, I can be liberated in my process. We all have to fail a lot; it’s horrible to rip things up. But the mishaps in my studio are my greatest teacher. Creativity comes in right at that moment when you are freaking out.
Did your parents influence you?
They were both so creative in their own ways. My mom was always painting, crafting. I was 14 or 15 when we did a Betty Edwards (Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain) workshop together. I was really lucky to be exposed to that. My dad designs and manufactures clothing. I do feel like it doesn’t hurt to have parents who support that little spark.
I’m designing my third collection for Windham Fabrics, I have my next book percolating in my brain, and I want to get back to my abstract painting. But all I really want to do well is be a pretty good mom to my kids. That is the big thing I do with my life.