Jaime Derringer

"The learning curve of everything I’m doing is always what keeps me going. I’m always asking, what can I do next, and how can I share art + design with more people?"

Untitled Study 23, 2015, 18"x24" acrylic, marker and pencil on paper / Available on Uprise

INTRO: Jaime is an artist, designer and writer. She is the mastermind behind Design Milk, Dog Milk, Adorn Milk and the newly launched Clever Podcast. I've followed Jaime's work for several years and was thrilled to get a chance to talk to her and see how she gets so much done. All of her work centers on sharing art and design with as many people as possible, on a consistent basis. If you're looking for some eye candy and a taste of Design Milk before we get started, check out these handcrafted geometric trays, this vintage jukebox or these stunning illustrations by Estudio Extramuros.

Environment / Geography

Stephanie: What is the best part of living and working on the West Coast?

Jaime: The barrage of emails tends to slow down after 3 PM (especially on Fridays!) because the majority come from the East Coast or Europe. :) Also, sunshine. Being able to work outside almost all year round… Discovering new designers up and down the West Coast… lots of great benefits!

S: How much does your physical environment impact your work?

J: It’s very important to me, as I am a creature of habit. So, I need to be in my office, at my desk, alone in order to be most productive. I find it more difficult to concentrate if I’m on my laptop in a different environment.

Untitled Study 1, 2013, 9"x12" acrylic on heavy canvas paper / Prints available on Art.com and Minted

S: What do your current workspaces consist of? Do you like to stick to one space or move around?

J: It’s very simple. Nothing fancy… just a plain old desk with a giant monitor that’s hooked up to my laptop. I’ve been dreaming of an office makeover, but I never seem to find the time. I’ve been working on the same desk for something like 8 years now - it’s been through many moves, and still seems to be holding up! 

Media / Motivation

S: Do you consume media (music, podcasts, audiobooks, videos, etc.) while you work?

J: Sometimes. I can’t play anything that requires too much concentration because I typically need most of my brain to work. However, I do listen to music or throw on a light-hearted podcast.

S: Are you involved in any creative communities?

J: Not really… just my friends and family, and the online creative community. Between work, family life, making music and art, and traveling, I barely have time to fit in anything else!

S: What motivates you to get started on new things? 

J: Passion - I’m an all-in kind of gal. I’m driven by my desire to do, make, create.

Current Work

S: How do you describe your work to other people? 

J: It’s so hard to explain to people what I do. I typically tell people I’m in online media, which makes the most sense to the majority. I don’t even bother getting into the art stuff, or the retailer business… it’s too complicated. My daughter thinks I make art for a living, so she always tells people I’m an artist. I’lll take it! 

Untitled Study 18, 2015, 9"x12" acrylic and pencil on paper / Available here

Prints available on Art.com

Untitled Study 14, 2015, 12"x16" acrylic, spray paint, and pencil on watercolor paper / Available here

Prints available on Art.com

S: What are some of the biggest challenges, surprises and learnings from starting Design Milk / Dog Milk / Adorn Milk?

J: Biggest challenge has always been navigating an unpaved road: no one knows where things are going so there wasn’t anyone who laid a solid foundation for those of us who blog for a living. We’re all just going through this together, trying to stay one step ahead of where things are going and how people are consuming information. It’s a constant struggle, but there is never a dull moment where I'm not learning new things. The learning curve of everything I’m doing is always what keeps me going. I’m always asking, what can I do next, and how can I share art + design with more people? 

S: How do you manage all of your projects, writing, art-making, etc. so consistently?

J: I like to keep a routine for work, so most days I spend time with my family and do something creative from 5:30 PM until bed time. I try and do something creative each day, whether it’s writing poetry, making art, or playing around with my music production. It keeps me balanced. There are always days (or weeks!) that are one-sided, but that’s always going to be the case with running your own business.

S: Do you have any new adventures, travels or projects coming up?

J: Design Milk’s newest adventure is a podcast called Clever, which I’m co-hosting with my friend designer Amy Devers  It’s very exciting! In each episode we will talk to a different designers about everything from design to family life, including personal stories, challenges and intel. We’re very excited about it!

S: What was your initial inspiration for starting a podcast? Do you have any dream interviewees?

J: We just launched Clever earlier this month, and we’re 4 episodes in with tons more coming soon. Amy Devers (my co-host) and I met a few years ago and since then we’ve been talking about working on something together. We thought bringing design to everyone through a different medium, such as a podcast, would be an exciting new frontier for both of us. We both share a vision that designers should have cultural relevance and prominence because they’re responsible for everything around us from buildings to the chair I’m sitting in to the logo on my computer. Their vision touches us all, everyday, and therefore, we want people to make a more meaningful connection to the things and places around them in the built world through hearing stories behind the design, as well as stories about the people who make all the stuff in our lives. 

So far, it’s been exciting. We’re learning so much about each person we talk to and, while there’s been (and still is) a steep learning curve with this new adventure, we’re finding it very rewarding. I don’t think there’s a specific person I’m most interested in talking to, so that’s a tough question to answer, but I think I’m most interested in finding out the things about designers that most people don’t know - from their favorite music that gets them excited to create to what keeps them up at night. 

Check out more of Jaime's work on her website and DesignMilk.com.