Today we’d like to introduce you to Hilary L. Hahn.
Hilary, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I arrived in Los Angeles to study directing and set design on an academic scholarship. Inspired by an apprenticeship that I had completed on the east coast at Vassar College the summer before. After spending one semester living abroad in France, I decided to settle for a bit in Los Angeles to finish up my undergraduate degree. At this time, I was hired to assist the Art Department chair, modern oil painter, Ruth Trotter in her studio on a weekly basis. It was during this period that I made paintings and designed sets for productions at the University. At age 22, I landed my first job teaching visual arts and went on to work for a gallery in Laguna Beach.
Later, I went back to school to get a credential in interior architectural design. I worked both in interiors and education and enjoyed helping clients with everything creative from paint selection to color and product design. As a creative outlet after having my son, I combined my love for painting and textiles in a sustainable dye practice. It took me back into my studio and aligned with a part of myself that has always wanted to tread more lightly on the planet.
I currently create modern textile art using natural dye processes such as natural indigo and other ancient dyestuffs. I am inspired to share what I have learned through workshops that I host throughout the city.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I would say that it has not always been a smooth road. At times, I really worked too hard to simply be in L.A. The tendency to take on too many projects at one time, compounded with “the hustle: can be a recipe to burn out creatively.”
Then as a new mom, I found the time that I had for creativity and professional growth was more limited. This led me to figuring out how to carve out a career that I truly love and feel excited about. My 15 years of yoga practice has helped with that immensely, it gives me clarity and helps me stay grounded.
I find myself becoming more reflective and selective about what I projects, I can say yes to. Also, running my own workshop series has been incredibly empowering.
Alright – so let’s talk business. What else should we know about you and your career so far?
My creative business currently has two parts. The textiles and the pieces that I design, coupled with the workshop series that I produce. I specialize in indigo and natural dyes. I started out designing pillows and textiles for interiors, yet recently my wearable art and scarf collection is a new and exciting aspect. I do everything small batch and by hand. I work in my studio a few days per week and spend the rest of the time.
I am proud of the sustainable nature of the fibers and the creative community that has arisen from the work. I am inspired dually by the California contemporary craft and the indigo artworks of Japan. There is something that appeals to me about the organic and spontaneous quality of Shibori repeats along with the handmade aspects.
I am currently learning how to bind watercolor paints to fiber using soy milk. I follow my intuition and see where it takes me.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
That’s such a good question because I have been thinking about my childhood a lot lately. Sometimes I feel that life has taken me so far, all the way to India, Japan and back that my mind has been wandering back to those simpler days.
I think my favorite memory would be growing up in Kentucky, night time swim meets that would go on until 9 or 10 p.m. on summer nights. There was a big neighborhood pool that I swam for and the evening air would be humid and warm. We would swim so late that we would see the bats come out of the trees flying overhead. I get a nostalgic feeling about those days.
A close second would be spending time playing in my neighborhood outdoors with friends. One of my best friend’s mother was a painter and they moved to Kentucky from New England. She would do these really big abstract paintings and they would put on poetry slams and even the kids would write poetry and attend these artistic at home gatherings. I found it all highly interesting and unlike anything, I had ever known about up until that point.
I would say my childhood in Kentucky was really idyllic and somewhat carefree.
- Indigo Batik Invisible zip pillowcases $49
- Hand-dye Indigo t-shirts $49
- Indigo Linen Kimono style Jacket $226
- Indigo Ombre Organic Cotton Shawl $75
Personal photo by Ashish Vaid