Kirri-Mae Sampson
Kirri-Mae Sampson

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

I’m Kirri-Mae and I do many things. The more I have on my plate, the more productive I seem to be, so I try to keep myself heavily (not always healthily) loaded up with projects, jobs and creative endeavours. At the moment I’m studying a Master of Fashion and Textiles degree, working for a great social enterprise called Green Collect, and making jewellery and other bits under the banner of kirri-maDe.

How did you start your creative business and why?

I’ve always been relatively crafty and creative. In Brisbane I was teaching Drama and Visual Arts full time for a few years. Teaching is equal parts stressful, consuming, complex, exciting, humbling and rewarding, but I did find that during my teaching career I had little time to actually practice creatively. So I took 12 months leave, packed my
bags and moved to Melbourne…That was 2 years ago. kirri-maDe was always a little side venture to engage in between “real jobs” but over the last 2 years it’s been slowly bubbling away, changing shapes and growing into a nice little label. It’s my way to explore different materials and creative areas. It’s fluid and changing, exactly how I want it.

Kirri-MaDe. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Kirri-MaDe Photo courtesy of the artist.
Kirri-MaDe. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Tell us about your past projects. What has been your most treasured creation?

kirri-maDe began with my explorations into resin. I paused my resin play when winter hit, being a Queensland girl, I really struggled being elbow deep in cold water, with goggles, mask and gloves, finishing each piece while shivering and chattering my teeth . That’s when I began to investigate creative knot tying. (I will pick resin up again now that it’s warming up, there’s certainly a few shapes that deserve a rerun and some ideas that I’ve been marinating in since winter!) Every new creation I make is my most treasured… until I move on to the next one. I’m not sure what that says about me from a business perspective, but it certainly keeps it all very interesting.

Where did you grow up and has it influenced what you create?

I grew up in a cul-de-sac in Brisbane with a street full of kids, club-houses in trees and 2 big brothers. My Mumsy has always been very
crafty and I would describe my Pops as an artist in his own right. While Mum was beading, weaving, painting or lead lighting, Dad was screen printing, paving geometric feats, creating visual art in the garden or obsessing over photography. So while all of this may not explicitly influence what I create, it would definitely have something to do with why I create.

What is your current project?

Currently I’m in knot mode. All knots, all the time. It’s amazing how diverse this form is and the range of possibilities achievable from just a few different knots and your choice of textile. I have some large scale pieces in the works that would fall more under the banner of wearable art, costume or sculpture, but the jewellery is a really great way to connect with people and offer them something a bit special and a bit unique.

Kirri-MaDe. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Who or what was your inspiration?

I find this a really hard question. I feel like I should be saying any of the great designers who have graced glossy pages over the decades…but
that’s not really true. To be honest, I’m more inspired by techniques and the goal to be just a little bit different to everything else you see around. That’s probably true of many designer/makers, which is what makes the handmade, local design world so incredibly exciting. Everybody is offering something a little bit different, and maybe that’s what keeps us learning and developing, and sets us apart from fast fashion, mass produced alternatives.

Where do you feel most creative?

When I’m surrounded by amazing creative people. Haha. Shortest answer yet! That one was easy. J

What can visitors to expect to see from you in the Colour Box Studio Summer Pop Up Shop?

Colour. Bold pieces. A changing collection….so keep coming back to heck in what’s new!

What advice would you give to those considering starting a creative business?

Do it. I started out making things for myself, a fairly common path followed where friends became interested in what I was doing so I’d make
things for them too. Then I thought, why not give markets a go, and the next thing I know, I’ve got an ABN, a business paypal account, I keep
receipts and financial records (make sure you do that….), my work is in a couple of boutiques and there are people I’ve never met buying my things. It’s kind of rad the way it all goes.

One important thing is to be clear on why you’re doing it. For me, kirri-maDe is my avenue for exploration. Because of that, I have appealed to different clusters of people at different times and I have no doubt that will continue because my aesthetic changes as I do. I’m really happy with that. Everyone has their own reasons though, and those reasons really influence the identity and culture of business, as well as who will give a damn; so it’s important to be clear there.Oh, and I once watched one of those feel-good, get-inspired talks on TED or Youtube where they stressed that, “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” They backed it up with a bunch of agreeable justifications, and I mean, selling things is a bit of a bonus/essential in creative business….so…I guess there’s that too. Google it. It’s a thing.

Where can we see more of your work?

The Estelle Store – 244 Heidelberg Rd, Ivanhoe

With YOU GUYS at the Colour Box Studio Summer Pop Up Shop until the 21st of December.

And you can find me on all the usual haunts. Etsy, Facebook. I even finally started a kirrimaDe instagram so followers can see less of my fella and food choices and more of my creative things. I aim to please.   Instagram – @kirrimade


Keep an eye out on the Colour Box Studio Facebook Page for a Kirri-MaDe giveaway!

Colour Box Studio Summer Pop Up Shop

236 Nicholson St, Footscray

OPEN: Tues-Fri 12-6pm, Sat & Sun 11-4pm

Open until 21 December 2013 & Showcasing over 20 Melbourne artists/ designers/ makers.