There are times I have to pinch myself to snap back to reality – to realize that I’m not dreaming this incredible world I live in. A world filled with exquisitely talented creative dynamos like the one and only Trim Queen, Jana Platina Phipps. Today in the Creative Cafe we are graced with the company of this charismatic textile artist that is taking the trim world by storm. Jana shares her fabulous confections, her passion for fashion, DJ music making, life and this little phrase, so full of wisdom, that now resides on my creative studio’s whiteboard, “Take that first step, reject perfectionism, and play.”
I am inspired by creativity in general, how people express themselves uniquely through art, writing, music, dance, cooking, décor and fashion, to name a few. Between my “maker parties” at my design studio and teaching Trim Alchemy at the Country Living Fairs, seeing what others create, very differently than me, inspires me greatly.
Textile art and design attracts me because it’s hands-on and has a tradition. I have always been a maker of sorts, attracted to things with stories behind them— bric-a-brac, vintage dresses, old magazines, and jewelry. When I went to my first factory as a design assistant, I saw the whirring machinery in a dance with yarns, and I found my voice.
If not creating textile art, I’d be an international DJ who teaches yoga/tennis life skills on the side, part owner in an art gallery full of artisan collaborations! Alternately, I think I’d be a filmmaker or jewelry designer. Hey, life is long—you never know!
Being an artist, I find myself deconstructing everything; I am fascinated by how things are made. I study handwork, embroidery, knotting, and passementerie of course. Color combinations stop me in my tracks, in nature, on the runway, at museums; even on Instagram.
The most recent textile art-related book I’ve read and would recommend is a book I discovered at the Museum Design Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico discussing the ethics of design, and I was stunned by the depth of the archives at the Museum of International Folk Art. The “Textiles: Collection of the Museum of International Folk Art” book is a beautiful representation of that collection and also explores the artisans and provenance of each artisanal piece.
My current go-to inspirational book is “BIG MAGIC” by Elizabeth Gilbert. There are so many powerful ideas that speak to how fear holds us back, but a favorite is, “Perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear.” This book is a must-read for creative, or people seeking to live a more creative life.
The most challenging artistic project I’ve undertaken was starting my own business was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. I was a new mother and knew I couldn’t sustain my current working situation—the hours, the commute, and the unreasonable face-time demands, while evolving as a mother. I worked on a business plan with a consultant that walked me through various scenarios. I was able to see on paper that a consulting business could work and eventually thrive. The research and exercise gave me confidence to start my company.
My creative endeavors have have always traveled for work, to clients domestically and factories internationally. I love to travel and always take the long road and seek out local color. Since I started Trim Queen, as a blogger sharing the creativity of the industry, I have gained press status. A trip to Maison & Objet in Paris was pivotal. Impressed by meeting textile designer Karin Sajo at Deco Off, I made a trip to Monmartre to interview her in her atelier. It was thrilling to see her process and cultivated artistry, something I never would have been entitled to do previously. Encounters like this fuel my creativity.
Visiting the off-limits archive of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe was definitely a career highlight.
The project I dream about creating someday would involve traveling the world with my family in a tricked-out art bus stopping at factories and small towns learning from artisans, and collecting techniques and materials. I’d culminate with some maker sessions bringing together people to create. Then, I’d fabricate an art installation at Liberty of London using what we made.
My advice to those who feel the call to pursue their creative dreams is to follow your curiosity and be prepared to realize you may end up somewhere that wasn’t even on your radar. Take that first step, reject perfectionism, and play. That’s the beginning of creativity, if you get in the zone, you will flourish.