Injinji’s Artist Designed series includes socks intentionally designed by talented creatives who find inspiration in the natural world. Each pair of Artist Designed socks tells a story, tying into a theme chosen by the artist. The designs are created exclusively for Injinji, and the socks are Limited Edition – so don’t wait to stock up!
The Sierra collection is the third in the Artist Designed series, created by Wyatt Hersey, a California-based illustrator, painter, and muralist. In this interview, Wyatt shares the influences behind this collection, and what inspired his vibrant designs.
Interview With The Artist: Wyatt Hersey
Can you share about your design process for this collection?
The first step with most of my design projects, once I have a rough idea of the constraints, is to start sketching ideas in my sketchbook. I use a pen which creates a distinct state of mind when drawing, and just doodle about, enjoying the freedom to make mistakes, abandon ideas, and be playful with my approach. Drawing in ink first forces me to commit more to the lines I’m drawing, which I’ve always found is a good influence in creating ideas. From there, I’ll take ideas I like, take a photo of them with my iPad, and trace over them in Procreate, sort of like using a lightbox back in the day. If the ideas are feeling good, I’ll move on to tracing over them one last time in full color. This process allows me to start in a way that feels fun and loose and then provides some simple steps to take that playful, loose doodle and develop it into something more refined.
You chose the Sierra theme, are there specific places or memories you thought of when creating these?
Yes! For the Foothill design, I was trying to channel the foothills of the northern Sierras near Chico, CA, where I used to live. In the spring the oak savannahs and chaparral there are TEEMING with life. Spring bird migration there is wild; wildflowers of all kinds paint the hills and roadsides, and the signs of Gray Fox and Bobcat are all about. For the Moon design, I was channeling the higher elevations of the central and southern Sierras, the places best known by backpackers for their clean granite peaks and crystal blue lakes.
Which design from the Sierra collection is your favorite and why?
Hmmmmm, that’s hard! If I had to choose it’d probably be Foothill or Moon. I think those are the most compelling designs because they include the playful elements of abstraction shared with the other designs in the collection, while including wildlife, trees, and a sense of depth that the others don’t have. They feel like looking into a scene of the Sierra Nevada, which I really love. They kinda take me to the mountains.
If you had to choose a song or album to accompany this series, which would you choose?
That’s a great question. I would say "Not to Blame" by Bella White or anything by Pharis and Jason Romero would fit well. Both of those feel like perfect tunes to accompany any trip to the Sierras, especially in the summer when you’ve got your windows rolled down, and the smell of dust and pine is drifting into the cab.
How did you get into illustration and design, and what has been the most fulfilling aspect of being an artist professionally?
I’ve been making art since I was a kid and haven’t really stopped. My parents are both artists; my dad is an illustrator and painter, and my mom does amazing multi-media collage and is a jeweler, so I grew up with creativity as a way of life. It’s in my DNA. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, drawing and painting have always been a way for me to feel close to myself, and to feel inspired and in love with life. Now that I’m making art professionally, I think the most gratifying thing is just having ALL my time devoted to making artwork. It has really allowed me to develop my voice even more and to make more art than I would if I were working another type of job! I always have way too many ideas, so the fact that I get to spend all my time making things is just super fulfilling.
What are your favorite ways to spend time outside?
So many favorites! I love to spend time outside in lots of ways, including birding, mushroom hunting, wildflower gazing, camping and exploring, swimming, backpacking or flyfishing. All of those are really part of one passion, which is deepening my relationship with my local ecology. For me studying ecology isn’t just about knowledge; it is a means of gaining more intimacy with the land and its denizens. That said, my newest passion is gravel biking. I’ve been really loving the challenge and the exploratory aspects of riding a bike around the mountains. That’s how I’ve been spending most of my free time lately.
What draws you to creating art about nature?
I think people make art about what they care about, simple as that. It’s what drives people’s minds and lives that ultimately shows up in their art, whether it’s a novel, a painting, a song, or a film.
Do you have a motto or mantra that you live by in your creative life?
Be playful! Don’t take things too seriously and create from your heart, not your head.
If people would like to follow your journey, where can they find you?
Come say hi on Instagram, @wyatthersey! I’m on there a lot, posting and engaging, and I always love to connect with new people there. I think it’s so cool that it’s a space where artists can connect with fans and other creators. It almost balances out the toxic aspects of it, right? Haha. Also, see a more curated portfolio of my work on my website.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Just want to say thanks for having me on this project Injinji. This has been great! I really appreciate that y’all gave me the creative freedom to create something that felt alive and fresh. I think people make their best work when they’re allowed to go wild, and I hope it translated into something people are excited about.