ADX Featured Gang Of Ten Member: Skye McNeill
Skye is one of the newest additions to our Co-Working space. Here’s a quick interview we had to get to know her and her work, we’re very excited to have her working with us here at ADX!
- Tell us a little bit about yourself and Hammer & Fox.
I’m an artist, designer, illustrator, photographer and writer. I grew up in Iowa and moved to the Northwest 10 years ago after college in Upstate New York, in search of tall pines and my lingering visions of “Seattle in the 90s.” I worked a lot of random and varied jobs while doing artwork and having shows on the side. Over the years I’ve turned more to production and design work and Hammer & Fox has grown into a vehicle for me to be involved in all sides of the process, from illustrating textiles to sewing products to photo shoots and catalogue layout. It’s truly a way for me to take every different interest I have and filter them into a single voice.
- What are your influences and inspirations? What excites you about makin’?
I get a lot of inspiration from nature, which is part of why I moved back to the PNW after leaving briefly for graduate school in Baltimore. Animals and trees creep into a lot of my work, some who have become recurring characters. Food politics, healthy living and sustainability are always on my mind and show up in products like the market veggie totes and the “Give Me Kale or Give Me Death” bag. Folklore and fairy tales play a large role, especially in my recent pattern designs, often the darker tales from Scandanavia. I’m pretty interested in family heritage, my own, as well as the way aspects of culture stay alive through generations. I have ancestors from Norway, France, Mexico, Scotland, so I’ve looked at folk art and patterns from those as a way of honoring where I come from. Right now I’m also into vintage european sports posters, but those haven’t shown up in my work yet, though skateboarding and surf culture are also a big influence. I have a secondary line for graphic tees and skateboard designs called H&F Cadence.
What has been most exciting recently is how many directions and options there are for taking an image. For example, earlier this spring I designed a woodland animal pattern for textiles, but I’ve also printed it as wallpaper, taken the animal characters and turned them into game pieces on a chessboard, jewelry, individual illustrations for cards, and isolated parts of the pattern into new pattern graphics for t-shirts. A small bat from the pattern even became the star of a small graphic novel I’m working on, and the other animal show up in it as well. When I have a finished piece, such as something sewn out of my textiles, it’s such a thrill to think “I made that!”
- How’d you get started with your company and what is your favorite product?
I originally started Hammer & Fox as an Etsy.com shop four years ago to sell drawings and paintings that were piling up in my apartment. At some point I started screen printing the drawings into print editions, which got me thinking more about production. In graduate school (for Graphic Design) I ended up turning it into a full fledged studio/press/shop with it’s own aesthetic and identity.
I really love the Birch Log pillows. No two are exactly alike and there is something really satisfying about just holding a cute little stuffed log. For a while on Etsy each one had its own personality, such as “Long Tall Log, Wonky Log, Pipsqueak Log and Dependable Log.” On a deeper level they speak to the strange desire to mimic what is right outside by using resources from those very elements.
- What are some of your favorite materials to use or techniques you use to create your designs?
I’m still a very hands on designer, usually only turning to the computer at the end stages, so I use a lot of pen and pencil, watercolor and gouache for image making, and usually turn to screenprinting for production. However, I’ve become pretty enamored by digital textile printing for the ability to create more complex designs that would be difficult to screenprint on my own. I’ve started expanding into more laser cut wood items and I’m trying out foil stamping for holiday cards, both of which are exciting
Please visit skyemcneill.com to see more of her wonderful work!