Deirdre Pinnock, Founder of Deirdre Pinnock Designs, is a talented and creative artist with years of experience under her belt. Deirdre has been busy hooking rugs since 2000 when she began as a creative outlet and as means of therapeutic self-healing. Her work has not gone unnoticed by avid fans, passerbys and her support networks. But while building her collections and reputation, Deirdre struggled with building her own self-confidence. We sat down with her to learn some of the struggles she faced and how she works through self-doubt and finds validation in her art.
How and when did you hear about ETE?
The first time I met Christina Wong, Employ to Empower co-founder and executive director, it was at a Beyond the Conversation rally in 2018. Beyond Conversation is about reducing isolation and loneliness in Vancouver. I gave my testimony about how I am rising above my mental health and trying to build my own business after finishing a 3-month marketing course through Work BC.
What feelings were there when you embarked on this journey? Were you nervous?
The journey that I embarked on when I first started was total fear. I didn’t think I could achieve it but I got support and a mentor from Employe to Empower. Everyone from the team helped me with my nutrition, my taxes and my art. All aspects of my life helped me to put up my artwork out there. I was also encouraged by the sisterhood of Rug Hookers. They told me that my art was beautiful, that I really needed to get out there and try and sell my work. Even today I still have this fear that I’m not good enough but I shake it off and place my art up. Every day I feel vulnerable but when a passerby waves to me and gives me the thumbs up, it makes me think, “I’m good today.”
What lessons have stuck with you the most? How do you look back on your experience?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to support and encourage fellow artists–and also, just do you. I still hear those that don’t like my work and that’s okay. Someone burnt my artwork, spray painted and tore it down. But you know what, I see it as engaging with my art because I come back and add my art alongside. An example of this was when my yarn bombing and a crochet heart was placed on fire and I thought to place 24 baby heart falling from the ashes. Once COVID was sprayed on my pink heart. I see it as COVID love it, love COVID or in the midst of loving each other in Covid. I adore the engagement with my heart. I’ve also come back to my art to find that the students at Point Grey Secondary add their own crochet flowers to my work.
How does your art empower you?
I’m validated with car honking and waves from cars and those who stop me on the street to ask why I do what I do or to thank me. Especially as a black woman, I now feel accepted and valued in a world in which I questioned my own existence.
What has been your proudest moment as an artist? Describe how you felt at that moment.
So proudest moment ….so many but mailing my mom my artwork and seeing her display the piece in our family home. I felt more validated and received. More than any of my tv appearances or that 4-page magazine spread or the public art for the City of Richmond (which was awesome too). But, my parents’ acknowledgement was the best and proudest!
During your Celebration of Strength and Resilience documentary, you said it took you a long time to believe your art is good. Why? Why do you think it took so long? What helped build your self-confidence?
Why it took a long time to appreciate my creativity I still don’t know ….even today. I question my art. I might be looking for reassurance because I’m not sure if I’m welcome here. A lifetime of asking if I might sit at the table with others. I’ve always excluded myself before I was excluded by others. Today I know I don’t have to ask to be included. My art is welcomed by many and I can literally sit at the front of the bus with other artists.
My confidence was built by people and magazines, tv newspapers, passers-by, zoom conferences— all those people accepting my art and having positive conversations around me.
What is advice you’d give to an artist or entrepreneur struggling with self-confidence? When you feel less self-confident, what do you do to build yourself back up?
Advice to new artists is to collaborate and learn. Work off other artists and get inspired by their ideas then contribute them to your pieces. It’s so difficult to create art alone. Others will lift, encourage, and boost you. No woman is an island, it takes a village.
Are there any exciting projects you have coming up? Please share them with us!
My next and up and coming project is 215 orange hearts for the aboriginal children that were buried in mass graves. I will exhibit the hearts at Strathcona park by August 1–BC Day which seemed very appropriate. I was given this grant by the Vancouver Foundation Small Grant Project.
I had helpers for this grant. I wake up daily to create art and I truly feel like I’m doing a disservice if I don’t put the love, the truth and all my hope upon my chain link fence canvas. Embracing and caring have made my life fulfilling! My heart is no longer heavy. I feel content once I place art up in the city.
Thank you so much to Deirdre for taking the time today to be vulnerable and help us learn from your experiences. We can’t wait to see more of your great work come to life in the near future.