Christine Hilbert

You'll most likely run into Christine at the Art Center or Valley Junction. If not, know that she surrounds herself with positive people.

As a kid what do you remember doing all the time? Even as a kid, I wanted to be an artist. I was constantly drawing in my sketchbook, writing (and illustrating) a story, or painting a picture.

Why do you call Des Moines home? I was raised in West Des Moines, but left to attend college, first at Iowa State University and then the Savannah College of Art & Design. After finishing up at SCAD, my husband and I moved back to Des Moines to be closer to our families. We were pleasantly surprised to find it had become this wonderful haven for creatives of all kinds. It is such a refreshing combination of culture, creativity, and kindness.

"[Des Moines] is such a refreshing combination of culture, creativity, and kindness."

School or no school? What’s your thoughts on going to art and design school? Going to art school was one of the best decisions I have made creatively, but I did things in an unconventional way, having decided to go after attending ISU. It was incredible to be immersed in such a serious (and competitive) program, but I don't think I would have done well in that environment right out of high school. So much of life is timing and I feel like I was at SCAD at the exact time I was supposed to be there and got out of it exactly what I needed. It was also great to be surrounded with so many other creatives in entirely different fields- sound design, film, fashion- and have those perspectives to inspire as well. 

Its such an individual choice: I don't think every artist needs to attend art school, but for me it was an incredible choice.

What’s currently keeping you busy? I have two small sons (18 months and 4) who keep me on my toes constantly. I keep extra busy chasing them and creating jewelry and artwork in every spare moment. Currently I am working on a number of custom jewelry pieces as well as continuing to develop my Heirloom Anthology series of mixed media photographs.

Talk to us about one of your recent pieces of work. I was the Artist in Residence for Ballet Des Moines' Winter season and created 12 pieces within my Heirloom Anthology series based on the costumes and movement of the ballet. My time with BDM was some of the most inspiring and magical I've had and I am incredibly proud of the work I created. The opportunity to have behind the scenes access to the ballet was invaluable and helped me to push my Heirloom Anthology concept further than I had before the residency.

"I am immensely proud of the fact that I never let go of my childhood dream of being an artist."

Walk us through your journey to starting your own thing. After finishing up at SCAD, I was unemployed (like many fine art majors). I started creating jewelry as a way to pass the time while I looked for a job.

First, it was for myself, but quickly for my friends and acquaintances. I began doing art and craft shows, creating custom pieces, and slowly picked up wholesale accounts. I was also painting and submitting my artwork into shows and creating commissioned art work for various people. Steadily I was able to grow my business into a hybrid of my creative passions and something that became a full time gig.

What are you most proud of and why? I am immensely proud of the fact that I never let go of my childhood dream of being an artist. I have held onto it through professional setbacks and challenges, having (and raising) kids, through moments of self doubt that all creatives face. I have been able to cultivate what I love into a business where I get to create something different everyday and that helps bring just a bit of beauty and positivity to people's lives.

What advice would you give to any local artist or maker? Surround yourself with positive people who help elevate and motivate you to create your best work. There are so many wonderful, knowledgeable, and friendly creatives in our city who are willing to share their experiences or advice. Go out and network with the people who inspire you. Don't be afraid to ask for help or feedback or to ask to collaborate with people who inspire you. I've been pleasantly surprised at the willingness of artists to help each other succeed. This is one great community.

"Don't be afraid to ask for help or feedback or to ask to collaborate with people who inspire you."

Talk to us about someone that constantly inspires you. Hanging out with two small kids all day is incredibly inspiring. You get to experience the world through their eyes: from something like the first time they discover shadows to the humorous or profound things that they say, being with my kids consistently helps me to see the world through fresh eyes and see the magic in the ordinary. 

I am also incredibly inspired by the fierce ladies I know who create for a living. I am lucky to have a number of gals as friends who take risks, push themselves within their craft and who are also incredibly gracious, thoughtful, and uplifting. Its inspiring to see others who are doing their thing and making their dreams happen everyday.

It’s the weekend! What are you doing? Usually it is the chaotic combination of spending time with my family and creating. I really try to get out and experience something on the weekends, whether it's hitting up a flea market, walking around the Art Center, or visiting a shop I haven't been in a while. Consistently, though, the weekend always involves eating a good donut.

Convince us to visit one of your favorite places in the Des Moines area. My husband and I lived in Valley Junction for years and I absolutely adored it. There is something so charming about the neighborhood: whether its the Farmers Market on a Thursday night or just ambling through the shops, it is such a fun place to walk or ride your bike around.

I find a lot of inspiration from the architecture, the history, and the uniqueness found in Valley Junction.

If you could grant the Des Moines area one wish what would it be? More money for the arts.

Derek JensenMarket Day 2017