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An Interview

The Little Sea Otter Waves "Good-Bye" - Sold Saturday

Looking back at the "Creative Expressions - Home Grown Project".  So many have asked me how I got started hand illustrating BEARPAW boots.  This interview should help answer many questions.

What inspired you to become a part of the Creative Expressions campaign?

I started my line of wearable art a little over a year ago and really knew nothing about BEARPAW boots until I walked into their retail store in December of 2012.   I was looking for a pair of boots to illustrate as a Christmas present for our little granddaughter and struck up a conversation with the manager.  After showing her my business card and telling her what I intended to do with the boots, she promptly suggested that I contact the VP of Global marketing about the possibility of doing some boots for BEARPAW.  Once Randy told me about the campaign, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it and it was clearly a perfect fit.  I especially love what they are doing in the schools and hope to get more involved with that aspect of the campaign this coming summer.

Can you talk a little bit about the Home Grown Project? 

With technology advancing in every arena, it is becoming difficult to find wearable art which is not machine manufactured.  Project Home Grown, is not only providing an opportunity for relatively unknown artists to share their work world-wide; but, is also sparking a renewed interest in custom, hand illustrated, one of a kind footwear.   It is my hope that this project will inspire many who had never thought of expressing themselves creatively on footwear to pick up some artists pens and a pair of BEARPAWS and go for it!

How did you get involved in designing? 

I always say, poverty breeds creativity.  Having parents that cannot afford to buy you the latest outfit for your Barbie doll or puppets for a puppet show, can be a true blessing.  My designing started at the age of 5 when I was given a hand-me-down Barbie doll who also happened to be naked.  By the end of the week she had the coolest custom-designed clothes in the neighborhood.  Bet you didn’t know you can make Barbie Doll Panty hose out of your mom’s knee high nylons.  Basically, I have been designing and creating all of my life in one form or another.  My latest line is Wearable Art, focusing primarily on footwear.

What inspired your designs for the Home Grown Project?

For me this is so much more than just a fashion statement.  Wearable art, especially custom designed wearable art, is an unspoken expression of part of who you are and what you love.  It breaks down the barriers that exist among strangers and the reaction from others is heartwarming and wonderful.  The conversations that are sparked are amazing!  Creating art that can adorn a wall or brighten up a living space is wonderful; but; to create something that can become part of you as you walk through your day is truly a unique and inspiring experience.  It not only blesses the wearer, but also all of those who you happen to encounter

Inspiration has never been a problem for me.  It is all around.  My struggle is finding the time to get the designs that come into my mind, out of my head and onto the boots.  Each boot can take up to 20 hours or more to complete and working full time in Law Enforcement simply does not afford me a great deal of time in the studio.  So, for this project, I decided to do a diverse sampling of different design themes.

Overall, I want my designs to be timeless, bring great joy to the wearer, and appeal to a wide variety of age groups and lifestyles.  While designing the Wisteria Botanicals, this phrase came to mind, “You Don’t Need High Heels to Be Beautiful”   I hope to give women an alternative to high heel shoes when they want to look and feel really special; and, with the “Color Me” boots for kids, my desire was to give kids some really cool boot option while also inspiring them and their friends to eventually design their own.

How has the reaction been? 

Absolutely overwhelming.   If I could find a way to mass-produce my designs so that they only took a few hours to complete and could therefore sell them at a more reasonable price, I would be able to quit my day job.

What do you hope for the future of BEARPAW's Creative Expressions' initiative? 

This campaign is accomplishing some incredible things in people’s lives; both individually and community wide.  It is my hope it continues for many years so that more kids can be challenged to consider using their creative gifts in areas they may have never considered (like the footwear industry) and that the work of many more relatively unknown gifted artists can be seen and enjoyed by a bigger audience because of BEARPAWS willingness to promote their work by partnering with them.

Just think, years from now, there might be enough worn-out hand illustrated BEARPAW boots found all over the world to open an art museum.   We can call it “Walk a Mile in My Shoes”

Thank you so much for having an interest in this campaign and for taking the time to highlight the great stuff BEARPAWS is doing in individual lives and entire communities.

Blessing – Dianna Wood

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