Art director, photographer, graphic designer, artist, stylist… Erin McClure on becoming a woman of many trades.
“You know when something just seems to come together? Like someone tells you about a bike shop, and then you hear it mentioned again, and then you pass it? My career sometimes feels like that, like a series of bizarre coincidences fated me into different things,” says Erin McClure from her studio workspace.
And there have certainly been coincidences – upon returning from London, she and her partner, illustrator and painter Colm Mac Athlaoich, got the two residencies on offer from Dublin City Council and the accompanying houses next door to one another, but Erin assures me they didn’t “Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton it” and live in two houses. However, the range of her portfolio has much more to do with her own creative eye than luck or fate.
After completing her degree in design at NCAD, Erin headed to London, working with the head designer at Erdem. But longing for family and a slower pace brought her home and, following her residency, she freelanced as a graphic designer and worked with We Are Islanders, creating hand-painted fabrics. And it was here that the seeds of sustainable, slow design were sown, and they’ve been at the core of Erin’s process ever since.
When creating a capsule collection of napkins, cushions and aprons inspired by the night’s sky, sourcing sustainable materials and being as eco-conscious as possible was a vital element. “I was doing things that were so heavily digital that I missed working with my hands,” says Erin. “The concept was first to work with waste materials, using fabrics from restaurants, hotels and catering businesses that were thrown away for minor flaws. It’s about recycling and upcycling and I enjoy the challenge of dealing with each flaw and the story they have to tell.”
“I select the pieces and then I dye it all in a big vat. I do everything on a small scale, so I only put in the minimum amount of water and dye. Once they’ve been washed, I hand-paint each one, working with stains or spills so they’re all slightly different. I suppose that’s why I like doing homeware – seeing someone use them and give them another lease of life.”
And the constellations? “Astrology has long been an interest of mine. I was gifted a telescope a few years ago and every time there’s a lunar eclipse or celestial show, we set it up in the garden.” But, like most of Erin’s work, it wasn’t a conscious choice. “When it came to putting brush to paper, it felt like this just came out, but then I look back on all my work and there’s a trail of moons and stars throughout.”
Up next for this multi-talented creative is a children’s line. “I did some print work for John Rocha’s children’s range a few years back, and I love the idea of a little one crawling around in it. Then I became an aunt, and the idea just jumped at me. I have done a few tests, but I want it to be as sustainable as possible, which requires extensive research at the beginning stages.” Sounds like “busy” is the way she likes it. erinmccluredesign.com