Inspiration is everywhere. But it’s people who intrigue and influence us most – especially those who are so passionate about what they do and why they do it that it’s contagious. You can’t help but be moved. At Bentley we surround ourselves with people just like this. Often purposefully, but sometimes, by chance. Being part of the big but small world of design is helpful in that way. But we like to think being in Los Angeles gives us an added edge.
Tracy Hiner is one of those “by chance” L.A. connections and we couldn’t be more excited – or inspired – about her or her work. Artist turned entrepreneur, Tracy opened the doors to Black Crow Studios in 2010, and has been designing custom wallpaper designs that blend handcrafted, artisan quality and digital technology ever since.
Meet Tracy. Be inspired.
- Tell us a bit about yourself, especially with regard to your design background. I grew up in Dallas and went to college at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I did some fashion stuff and textile design, and along the way, my path led me to decorative art. I worked with a decorative arts company that did in house printing. I had my hands in everything; I oversaw manufacturing and worked with clients directly. I saw how it all happened. It’s a very cool process. At one point, I approached them with an idea for wallpaper and was shot down. It was disappointing but work went on until the company told me they were moving and wanted me to come. It was time for me to move (on) – but not with them. I started my own company. Black Crow Studios is all about custom, art-driven mural wallcoverings. Everything is hand-made but digitally printed. In this way, we retain hand quality that can be manipulated to whatever you desire. No one physically paints a 40-foot wall.
- Is the name Black Crow Studios symbolic? No. I know that’s disappointing.
- What was your ah-ha moment that led you to launch your business? At my previous job, an interior design client wanted to do a mural wallcovering. I came from textiles, which is all very repeat setups. It never occurred to me that you could easily make a mural – no repeats, whatever design you desired, created on the computer and printed like any other artwork. I worked on the project and made the design (very Ralph Lauren-like with horses – nothing like what I do now), and printed it just as we did our other designs. It blew my mind. At that moment, I felt like my head exploded with ideas. That project unleashed this new side of things I had never before considered.
- How would you describe your artistic style? Where do you get your inspiration? I pay attention to a lot of abstract art, different painting techniques, collaging. I look at a lot of fashion photography for edgy, moodiness. My style is more an expression of a mood versus a specific idea. Flow and movement is important – to me and to my clients.
- What is your go-to design resource, or your don’t-miss magazine or blog? Juxtapoz is my favorite magazine. It’s all art and culture, and features some great graffiti and street artists. I don’t read a lot of others beyond obscure, high-end fashion and art magazines. I try to avoid looking at too much.
- How did you first connect with Bentley? I belong to a creative women’s entrepreneur group in Long Beach. Todd’s (van der Kruik, Bentley’s vice president of design) wife is also in that group. Before coming to a recent meetup, she was looking through the Instagrams of other members and Todd happened to see a few of mine. He was intrigued, eventually set up some time to come by my studio, and we ended up partnering on a photo shoot. I created some designs to complement an upcoming carpet collection. (Which, by the way, is very much my style – abstract, texture, paint-like. So striking.)
- One thing you share with Bentley is your hometown of Los Angeles. What do you love most about LA? I love it all! The weather. The people. All of it. So many different neighborhoods. Such variety. Anything you want to do, it’s here, somewhere. Whatever you’re into, there’s a tribe for you.
- Tell Bentley’s blog readers one surprising thing about you? When I’m in the studio alone at night, I start to memorize rap songs. I have a nice collection of those I have nailed very well. Everything Nicki Minaj. I love the flow of her rapping. Lil Wayne…