29 Jan 2014
James Donald textiles
Meet the maker/teacher James Donald

As part of our new blog post theme, that of ‘Meet the art teacher/artist’ each month we will highlight either an art teacher/tutor, artist or designer maker and ask a handful of questions, nothing too serious but something that could encourage some interaction between art teachers, artists also college tutors.

Welcome James Donald, designer maker and tutor – if you would like to take part or know someone who would then download the questions here and fire them back to us at:

word-download download the 'Meet the art teacher/tutor/artist' questions

1. Who are you and where do you work?
My name is James Donald and I have a portfolio existence of places of work, the first being my studio based weave company, PickOne which is based at Coburg House Art Studios in Leith, Edinburgh. I have had my own studio since the late 90’s and been at Coburg House Art Studios for about 6 years. My other place of work is Concrete Wardrobe on Broughton St. Edinburgh. I have been co running this retail space with printed textile designer Fiona McIntosh since 2000, where we sell work by Scottish based and trained designer makers.

James Donald - designer maker

2. When did you decide you wanted to be an art teacher/tutor/artist?
I think I probably made this decision when I was still at school where I knew I wanted to do something creative but what that was I was never really sure at that stage.

3. Where and what did you study?
I have studied at a number of places Dundee College as it was then named, Newcastle College of Art and Technology and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art for my Degree in Constructed Textiles and my Masters in Design.

4. What is the best thing about being an art teacher/tutor/artist?
For me the best thing about being an art tutor is watching how individuals grow in both confidence and attitude and ability and watching how they develop creatively as they are guided either through technique based learning or process based. This for me is a largely rewarding experience that I also learn from as I see this process as a two way learning experience.

5. How would you describe your style (clothes, art, home….whichever you choose)
EEK! My home does reflect my eclectic streak in the collections of framed pieces, ceramic collections and hand made objects. I love minimalism but unfortunately I do do it badly!

6. Do you listen to music while you're working? If so, what?
YES! I love listening to music both in the retail space and my studio. Having music on in the retail space Concrete Wardrobe does enhance the whole shopping experience for our customers so we try music that evokes memories in our customers.

In my studio it depends what I am doing … if I need to concentrate its Radio 2 or 4 and if I am weaving away, which is often the case I like to put on fast dance based music so I keep the tempo of weaving going. Disco is great for this!

James Donald - designer maker

Pick One woven scarves by James Donald.

7. Which artist or designer inspires you most and why?
This often changes but at the minute I am obsessed with ceramics from the 60’s and 70’s, which I find both inspiring and aesthetically appealing. I really enjoy the work of designer maker Susan Williams Ellis’s work … in particular her pieces from the Totem ranges. I enjoy the whole geometry and functionality of the pieces.

8. If you could give one bit of advice to your 18-year-old self, what would it be?
You will be fine! There will be tricky times ahead but stay flexible and don’t give in and stay true to what you believe in!

9. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become an artist or designer?
Engage and be engaging … don’t be a moody so and so who thinks the sun shines out of you as its not an attractive quality to have and folk soon work out what your about and will avoid working with you.

10. What’s your greatest achievement?
To still be doing what I want to do!

11. What three things would you still like to do before you die?
More travelling, continue to learn about me and my practice and not die!

12. What’s your favourite food?
Fish and chips from a poke!

13. Where was the last place you went on holiday?
Arisaig on a camping trip that was just wonderful!

14. What was the last book you read?
Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin … which I think was the 7th in the series of books all set in San Francisco, this book made me shed a tear when I got to the end … I want to live in this series of books and am looking forward to the next installment The Days of Anna Madrigal, which I think is released later this month.

15. What is your biggest distraction?
Domino my French Bulldog … still a pup and full of mischief!

16. If you ruled the world, what single act would you carry out.
Where do I begin! All artists would pay no tax!

17. Do you have any regrets?
Nope … I don’t see the point in looking back … I like to look forward … onwards and upwards!

18. In no more than five words, write your own epitaph. (Optional!)
He wove his magic well!


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