I’ve got another fun artist interview for you today, featuring the beautiful Amanda Richardson of HDwest.
As a girl who loves both western fashion and art, Amanda has captured my heart with her originality and art style that embodies the contemporary western look flawlessly. I know I’m not the only one in awe over her talent – HDwest has been featured by countless influencers, and is a cult favorite in the western maker community.
If this is your first time hearing of HDwest, you’re in luck – Read below to find out a little more about Amanda, her work and what drives her forward.
Tell me your story – how did you get to where you are now?
Oh man in a way I feel like I’ve been training unknowingly for this my whole life. I was a craft store junkie in the early day; from jewelry making, bookbinding, clay, wood work…guess I was kind of a weird kid.
I started painting, sewing and collecting vintage in high school, opened my first Etsy shop about that time and did projects for friends & family. Eventually I came across leather and found a way tie in the things I had picked up over the years and was able to make a business out of it.
Crazy to think I’ve been working with leather for close to 8 years now!
What inspires your personal style?
It’s tough to pin point it, I pick up inspiration all over. I’m always on the hunt for cool, funky, old pieces that catch my eye. Any time I travel I check out the local pawn shops and junk stores. Distressed, patinaed, handmade vintage are what it’s all about!
All this kinda makes me stick out like a sore thumb sometimes. I live in Southern California, the style -even western style is very different here. I’ve toned it down some from my Turquoise Teepee days, still a bit different than the crowd just with a few less weird looks at the grocery store.
Tell me about your business – what do you specialize in?
HDwest is hand painted one of a kind (usually custom) leatherwork. I’d like to think it’s a bit out of the ordinary. It’s a one gal show around here, I hand cut from hides, use paint and stain to make items like clutches, necklaces, watchbands and other accessories.
What inspires your work?
Everything. My eyes are constantly open. I find myself taking pictures of things because I like the color palette of what I see or taking screenshots of a certain pattern that catches my eye that I can put my own spin on.
Magazines, catalogs from stores I’d never actually shop at, old photos, textures…sometimes inspiration just pops into my head out of nowhere – It even happens while I’m sleeping! I’ll have to run out back to my shop to paint or build something because I can’t wait until the morning.
What do you love about what you do?
It’s so awesome that I get to do something that allows me to have so much freedom. I don’t know of any other type of profession where one day you’re a painter, next a marketing manager, a designer, photographer, seamstress, shipper…never gets boring and my boss is pretty cool.
Have there been obstacles along the way to success?
Oh yes for sure! Creative block is something that can hit you hard. This year started off with a fellow leatherworker letting me know that she came across a product with what looked an awful lot like my work on it, turned out that it looked similar because it actually was my work. A major company in our industry used a couple screenshots from my Instagram to create a product -very blurry and poorly done to top it off.
Having my work imitated is something that I unfortunately deal with regularly but this was a whole other level -we’re talking thousands of these items all across the world! I kept quiet about it even though it was the exact opposite of what I felt like doing, hired a lawyer who hit em with a cease and desist, they exchanged emails and phone calls for months until production was halted and things were finally settled.
While all of this was going on the wind was sort of taken from my sails and the last thing I felt like doing was sharing photos of work. Definitely took some time to get excited about our industry again, so so thankful to have my momentum back!
What are your goals for your business?
I’d like to figure out ways to grow my business without losing it’s integrity. I’d like to be able to tackle more custom orders without switching to mass produced designs -tricky thing to figure out.
I’d also like to make more of a connection with my audience. I have some customers who have been around since the early days, I know their exact style and have a pretty good idea of what they’re hoping for when they order, I’ve even became friends with a few of them. These days with a larger customer basis it’s tougher to build connections like that.
Do you have any projects you’re especially excited for?
I’m about to start the journey of prepping inventory for NFR! It’s two solid months of nothing but leather from the moment I wake til it’s just about time for bed, I jokingly call it house arrest haha. It’s super intense but such a good feeling seeing everything all come together eventually -that’s the best! I’ll be set up at South Point. Also I’m working on some really fun earrings that I can’t wait to show off!