In this series of interviews about the creative process, I’ll be talking to artists in all fields to discover the common traits of creativity and what, if anything, is different in each art form. I’d also like to discover what creative practices could be used by people who don’t consider themselves artists (in the traditional sense) and how creative thinking is fundamental to growth and creation in all aspects of life.
Jill Wilde is an Irish designer, stylist, and costume designer with over twelve years of experience in the Fashion Industry. Frustrated by what she saw as a lack of choice, she decided to use her skills to create a unique offering for alternative brides and Wilde by Design was born. Through Wilde by Design, she offers bespoke wedding dresses, veils, and cloaks to suit individual looks and personalities Jill’s background as a stylist means that she sees each bride as an individual and crafts her pieces with an eye to the total effect. Her latest venture inspired by her daughter Mia is called La La Wilde which produces vintage clothes with organic fabrics from authentic vintage patterns.
What about your craft motivates you and what would you say is your forte? What do you think makes you good at /curious about this forte? Do you admire this aspect in others?
I love creating beautiful designs. There is something magical about creating an item of clothing that people get joy from wearing. If someone feels that they look good it gives them a great confidence and I hope that in some small part my designs have helped them achieve that confidence.
I suppose my strength would be bespoke designs; meeting my clients listening to what they want and then making their vision become a reality. I have always been interested in people, hearing their stories, knowing what makes them tick and I think that it is this that means I really listen to what they want and do my utmost to give it to them. Yes, I feel sometimes that in today’s society we are all a bit too self-centred. I know you have to look after yourself but too often when we meet people we are too driven to tell them what is going on in our world that we don’t have the time to listen to what they have to say.
When the creative well is dry, how do you fill it? Do you have techniques you return to?
My designs are always character driven. Be that from a book or a film. I have to say that when the creative well is dry I pick up a good book or snuggle up on the couch with a film, anything from the glamorous Hollywood musical era to fantasy films.
I get a lot of inspirations from fabrics as well. Sometimes it is the feel and the flow of the fabrics that give me my ideas. You will often find me whiling away an afternoon walking around the fabric shops in Dublin.
How do you maintain your authentic self/voice? Does the constant comparison on and/or influence of social media help or stifle this?
I think as I am getting older it is easier to maintain my authentic self. I have more confidence in my own vision and am not constantly trying to recreate what is on trend. My style is very much my own and I am not swayed by the catwalk or the current fad. However, I do feel sorry for young designers as while social media brings a vast research resource to your fingers it can be overwhelming. If you find yourself needing the validation that social media brings, having so many likes on one of your designs, you can be easily pushed over the edge.
When did you know that you had to use/explore your creativity in some way? Were you encouraged and supported by your family? Does your national identity influence you?
My family have always been very supportive, especially my grandfather. I remember spending many Saturday afternoons sitting at his kitchen table while he taught me how to use his sewing machine. I always loved fashion, clothes and fabrics but it took me a while to find out that my love was for designing. My career started more as a hobby than anything else when I worked as a stylist. Unfortunately, in Ireland, fashion styling as a career is no longer viable as there are too many people offering their services for free. However, this led me to costume design, which I loved. It is the perfect way for me to express my creativity as you are not shackled by the need for clothes to be wearable every day. You can really let your imagination run wild. I suppose that is why I have ended up in Bridal Design, which is my true passion. A wedding dress is not practical in any way shape or form rather a completely magical garment that is the epitome of romance.
What happens if you ignore your creative impulses, i.e., if you don’t practice for a while?
To be honest I never have – that I suppose is a failing in itself as it means that I am always working. However, for me, it doesn’t feel like work.
How do you keep positive when an idea fails or when you get negative feedback?
I am a sensitive individual and I do find it hard when an idea fails or I get strong negative feedback. I always admire individuals who seem to let everything roll off their back. Again as I get older I am getting better and try to take the learnings out of what happened and move on. However, that is not to say that I don’t disappear with a large bar of Dairy Milk chocolate and nurse my wounded pride for at least an afternoon!!!
Have you collaborated with an artist in your field and/or in another art form? Was the experience worthwhile?
I have recently started collaborating with a jewellery designer for my new collection of wedding dresses. It is so exciting as she brings a completely different dimension to what I am doing.
Always on shoots, I would work with a team of make-up artists, hairstylists and wedding stylists and I love to see what vision they bring. I always leave a shoot brimming with ideas for more designs.
Committing to creative work, given the often-meagre financial rewards, can make it a struggle. What have you done to overcome this? What advice would you have for someone starting out?
Am sure everyone has heard the saying “if you do what you love then you will never work a day in your life.” While on the one hand, it is true, on the other hand, if you are slaving away working every day and a lot of the time late into the night for little or no financial reward then it very definitely seems like work. Some amount of payment is important for your own self-esteem. However, I don’t know any designer who would give it up to work in an office 9 – 5; the personal satisfaction you receive is second to none.
As a trained drama teacher, I am lucky as I can always dip into my drama teaching for some extra money if a month is particularly hard or if I need extra money to finish a bridal collection. I am happy to say I haven’t needed to do this for a while but the first few years it was very tough.
I would recommend that anyone starting out should have some money set aside for marketing and promotions. This is one area that I completely overlooked. It doesn’t matter how amazing your designs are, if no one knows about them no, one will buy them. This is soul destroying.
What is the best thing about being a person who uses her/his creative skills? How does it enrich your life and help you in other areas?
I suppose I never have the Sunday night blues. But simply put it makes my life better. I don’t feel that I am wasting my time in this world. Rather I am filling every day with what I love to do.
How do you view the role of the arts in society? The role of the artist? Do you have a “responsibility” as an artist?
I feel that the arts are so important and the importance they have in our education system is overlooked. I have seen artists work with children with special needs helping them to express themselves and the enjoyment the children get from the classes is incredible.
Previously I worked with an Irish clothes designer and he used to tell me that it was his responsibility to create beautiful garments for everyone to enjoy to bring some happiness into the world. I kind of like that philosophy!
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