Dimitra is the artist behind Décor Asylum, and from her creations, it is easy to tell that this talented woman has passion for her art. Her creations show an affinity with winter and the woodlands. We have seen snapshots of her creative space in October, and it’s only fitting that we get to know more about her work and her online shop. From her home in Argos (where she draws, paints and makes by hand everything you see in her shop), Dimitra opens up to us on Decor Asylum’s beginnings and challenges, her inspirations and joys. And so without further ado, I am pleased to present to you our final featured handmade shop for 2015.
What’s the story behind the shop name?
The name is a combination of our home, my love for handmade decor and my blog. When we first moved in our newly rented home, it was not in a pretty shape & needed a lot of love and care. It was about the same time that I decided to start blogging. Trying to find a suitable name for my blog that would depict all that I love doing but also the state of our house, I came up with the name “Asylum” for our home while the “Decor” part was an obvious choice. Decor Asylum was born and stayed with me even when a couple of years later I decided to open my Etsy store with my handmade creations. It fits quite nice don’t you think? In an asylum you treat the soul and the mind, just like creating something handmade does!
What moved you to open an online shop?
I saw it as a challenge to myself. Opening an online shop and selling my creations was very far from anything I had previously done in my professional life. But, hey, we all need to go out of our comfort zone once in a while and try new things. I will not lie though; if it wasn’t for the encouragement of a couple of friends and the support of my fiance, my shop will still be only an idea to try sometime in the future.
Did you take up a formal education in Fine Arts?
None whatsoever! Although, even as a child and later on as an adult, I was encouraged to take lessons, I never wanted to. I wished to maintain a more liberal approach with art and taking lessons always seemed like it would somehow “confine” that relationship into schedules, project deadlines and have tos. After all, in general I am the kind of person who never reads the manual. I just start using an item (can’t be rocket science, right?) and learn as I go. The same applies to all things I create. I have an idea and try to materialize it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
What are your top 3 favorite picks from your shop?
Not an easy question since every single one of my creations has a part of me in it. If I had to choose only 3, I would choose for following mainly due to their uniqueness:
the mountain miniature scene (shop)
my birch forest pyrography art (shop)
& my painted wooden house (shop)
Can you share with us the process of creating these items?
It all start with a vague image in my mind that then gets on paper as a quick draft. From there comes decision time; will I make the image into a 2d illustration or something 3d? If it’s a 2d illustration, I work a bit more on the draft before moving on the actual drawing with all my markers and colors around me, just like a child. If it’s a 3d creation, things get dirty (!) with me being covered in clay and/or paint and/or glue and/or fibers! It’s messy but I love it! Can’t say the same for all the cloths I have destroyed in the process but, hey, it’s all part of the game.
You use varying techniques and work with different mediums, which one is your favorite?
All in rotation! There are days I just want to draw, well during those days my markers & papers are my favorite things.
Then there are days that I want to feel the texture of wood, so on I go with pyrography pieces or my wooden houses. When I feel like creating a 3d item, clay becomes my favorite medium.
Could you tell us a bit about pyrography, and how it differs with the other techniques you do?
My first encounter with pyrography was through my dad when I was still a child. I still remember sitting by him while he was working on a pyrography piece (artful creations were his hobby) and smelling the burned wood. In classic style of…me, when 3 decades later I decided to give it a try, I just bought a pyrography kit, plugged it in and started making patterns of a piece of wood. Sometimes, things are just that simple. What I find the most interesting about pyrography is that something is created through destruction. You have to destruct (burn) the wood in order to have creation.
What do you love most about what you do?
Quite frankly the fact that I push myself a bit further each time, discovering or shaking down new boundaries in what I can or cannot do.
Is there anything you dislike about it?
That there is no ctrl+z or undo in real life!!!!! It’s so frustrating when you are almost there on an item and a wrong choice in color or getting a bit to anxious to keep it in your hands or that brush full of paint that has a mind of its own and decides to give a quick kiss to your creation, ruins the whole thing and you have to start, literally, from scratch! It’s not pretty, people and you really don’t want to be around me when something like that happens. Luckily I cool off relative quickly and here we go again!
What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
Packaging! Having items of completely different dimensions, it’s impossible to have an one-box-fits-all packaging solution that is both aesthetically pleasing and practical for shipping. I also love giving each package some personal touch so I either create the packaging with durable cardboard myself or in smaller items use sturdy white gift boxes. Needless to say, all packages leave the Asylum with some kind of small drawing or embellishment on them since I believe that it adds up in the anticipation of unwrapping the item or gift purchased.
Where do you find inspiration?
Life in general. It can be a photo of nature, a mood of a song, a place I wish existed in real life. Apart from that, I find it extremely interesting when a customer contacts me with a specific person in mind and I try to create something based on the likes and character of the recipient.
What do you do when you’re not busy creating items for your shop?
I will make small changes in my home decor or a diy for the blog. If I just need to rest and relax, I would watch a movie or two with my dog sleeping next to me (I’m a movie lover while the dog is a sleep lover).
What new creations can we look forward to next year?
I honestly have no idea! As I said before, this whole situation also involves me knowing or expanding my boundaries, so who knows what I may after all be able to do? Not even me 🙂
Your message to customers and friends.
A truly honest “thank you”. Not just for the purchases but for the trust any transaction contains. Not just for your kind words but for the continuous support one way or another. It may sound silly but it was you who made me appreciate a part of me that opened a marvelous world of possibilities. Stay true, it’s far more interesting!
And thank you Rachel, once again, for offering me a place in your beautiful blog among so many other talented people.
Thank you so much, Dimitra!