Los Angeles based artist, Grace Gulley, and I crossed paths a few months back and I was instantly in love with the work she does not just in the studio but for other creatives as well. As a maker herself and the founder of CYL Collective she is the true definition of what Makers for Makers stands for. Between giving her support to others and spending her time hand-knotting beautiful creations, it's easy to say that she is one heck of a go-getter. It's inspiring to see her conquering the art world with crazy cool hard earned features as she creates her fiber-based wall hangings and installations. The best part of it all is how handmade and true to the natural process her work is. Through sticking to a mix of ancient and modern techniques, Grace brings to life truly captivating pieces that anyone would be lucky to have in their spaces. I am beyond honored to share the story of such a beautiful and empowering person here on the blog today. Enjoy!
TELL US ABOUT YOU AND WHAT YOU DO.
Fiber is the name of the game! All my pieces are totally hand made using both ancient and modern techniques to create wall hangings that are minimal, yet extremely textural. Outside of my art, I also run a female creative collective, called CYL, or Craft Your Life Collective. My biggest happiness in life is working with other people and empowering women to follow their own creative happiness.
WHAT PUSHED YOU TO TURN THIS DREAM INTO REALITY?
Both ventures started without a plan and evolved out of a need to feel connected and present. CYL began in early 2015 while still living in Portland. I had been feeling a tad lost and uninspired for some time. My intent was to start an online collective to seek out other females and perhaps make a few creative friends. It quickly snowballed into so much more. There was an obvious need for this sort of positive and empowering community. I was consumed and finally on the right path. I happened upon hand knotting shortly after because of one of the CYL friends I made. It was immediate and real love.
WHAT IS THE CORE MISSION BEHIND WHAT YOU DO?
With both of my outlets, my primary mission is to empower others to follow their bliss. I want to encourage people to explore creative mediums and use those mediums to better themselves. I find that when you are taking care of yourself and happy, you have much more to give to others. So here’s to the hope that this ripples outward and creates a tidal wave of kindness.
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST OBSTACLE STARTING OUT?
The biggest obstacle starting out (and quite possibly still!) is time management. Like I said, this initially wasn’t supposed to be a business. It was a passion project. So as both projects grew, the amount of time that was needed to sustain and grow them, also grew exponentially. It was very easy to get lost. Since then, I’ve been working on a real business plan so I have a clear path and can learn to prioritize and manage myself more efficiently.
DO YOU HAVE ANY MAKERS THAT HAVE INSPIRED YOU?
Oh, there are tons! One of the first maker friends I made was Ilana of The Small + Savage Wild. That has blossomed into a very close and important relationship. She inspires me to continually support others work and foster those relationships. I also adore Cindy of WKNDLA. Her level of craftsmanship and extreme attention to detail and process is so admirable. Mariana of Easy to Breathe is another dear, dear maker friend. If you can ever truly say someone has a gentle and kind spirit, it is her. She is a real joy to be around. Nina Klein is another beautiful maker. Her feminine, creamy palette and figure illustrations are a dream. I love the way she celebrates women through her art, and she makes me aspire to embrace my own womanhood. And of course, Sally England. Sally’s sculptural fiber pieces have literally reduced me to tears.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY AS A MAKER LOOK LIKE?
Structure is something I’m trying to get better at. When you are working for yourself it’s easy to fall into the trap of three-hour lunches and Netflix binges. One thing I have gotten down is my morning routine. I wake up, put on my running shoes, plug into a podcast or audio book, take a few gulps of lemon water, and go outside for fresh air and mild exercise. This is before emails, before checking social media, before looking at my to-do list! It sets the tone for my day and allows me to create me space before I turn the day over to everyone else that I need to complete pieces for, send PDFs back to, respond to their emails, etc…
I also find mornings the best time to answer emails. I’m sharp and quick in the morning, and can quickly and efficiently move through emails. I usually follow that with other computer intensive accounts. And a few hours in, I’m tapped. Another walk to recharge, and then it’s creative time. I love using the afternoon to create because I’m in that sleepy-hazy-I-could-take-a-nap-fog and let me tell you, that is the most conducive state for creativity!
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING A MAKER?
Connecting to other makers! Seriously. They are the best.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR MAKERS JUST STARTING OUT?
Be flexible with yourself. You will hear a lot of rules and expectations will be set. Things won’t always pan out how you think, and you need to be able to accept that and move forward. You also may find a medium isn’t working for you a year in, if you lose that passion don’t be so rigid that you feel you must keep doing it or you will be a quitter. Try new mediums. Explore! You never know, you may come back around to your original medium. Or you may find something you love even more.