Meet the Maker: Dolan Geiman
We're lucky to have artist Dolan Gemain in our Flea vendor family, a nationally-recognized mixed media artist with a style that infuses a folk art tradition with a contemporary, urban style. Geiman continuously amazes with vibrant and unique collages, paintings, silkscreens, and 3-D assemblages, all produced with vintage papers, salvaged wood scrap metal, and other found materials in his "home base" studio located just south of Denver.
how has your brand evolved and grown over the years?
We first started as an art business, making fine art, then we branched out and made clothing for a while, then slowly returned to making fine art, and now adding furniture, homewares, and even textiles. One of the ongoing currents running through the work has been the use of discarded materials. Using recycled materials became a big buzz in the art and craft world for a time. For most it was a trend. For us, it was a way of life, as we always wanted to find ways to utilize materials that were being tossed in the landfill, rather than creating new materials. We continue to challenge ourselves to create new lines of work based on these found materials, and we
continue to strive to be cutting edge in our ideas. Now, we have a little bit of a cleaner edge and a larger market, but the honesty of the materials is still central to our designs.
first product you created?
When I was in high school I used to illustrate classmate’s paper
book covers (anyone remember those? )….most of the requests were for guns n roses, werewolves, or chevy trucks. I was pretty good at the werewolves. The first thing I actually sold was my first year in college, I created a line of tee shirts I had screenprinted that said
“fight me” on the front with pictures of little cats faces on them. I used the money to buy cigarettes and lunches at a local boxcar diner out near the feed lot. I could sit at the counter there and smoke and talk to the 70 year old waitresses while the rain outside made the sidewalk smell like worms. I loved it.
why do you do what you do?
My mother was a successful artist when I was growing up. My father,
a successful school teacher who also worked for the forest service and staged civil rights walk outs. We weren’t rich but we didn’t know it. We learned how to derive wealth from the moments in between work; the hours in the evening sitting by the creek watching the
herons, the conversations whispered into soft ears sitting on hardwood church pews in the hot summer, the sun warming our cheeks while we sat waist deep in February snow in the barnyard. Ours was a life of moments that when strung together had the rich indulgence of a box of Whitman’s chocolates. As I grew older and learned that oftentimes one also needed money, I searched for ways to get as little as possible so that I might return to the real
moments. Later, I learned that much of what I would be asked to do would overshadow those real moments, until one day I realized that my work was just that. Work. In order to feed more of my soul I strove to get back to the in-between, to gain back the things I was
good at, the drawing and painting and sewing, and to take back into my own hands the path that I was on. As the Byrds sing in their 60’s anthem, “I will want to dive beneath the white cascading water/ s
She may beg, she may plead, she may argue with her logic /
/ And mention all the things I'll loose / That really have no value…. in the end she will surely know / I wasn't born to follow."
What's your favorite product or collection that you've created?
Years ago I created a line of artwork that was quite simple but which resonated with many people and spoke to the evolution of our brand. Utilizing all of the found wood materials in my studio, I started
creating silhouettes out of wood: birds, animals, deer heads, dogs, that were very simple and clean silhouettes, and the interior was backed with found wood and metal slats of varying color. I called these pieces “constructions” and developed an entire collection. Most of the birds and animals featured were ones I had drawn from life, animals I had studied in the fields near my home or seen on an outing in the woods. Once I began selling these, they
attracted a lot of attention. Pendleton picked them up for their catalog, and the Fossil brand even hired us to create window displays riffing off of the idea. As sometimes happens when
you come up with a new idea, it only took a few short years before these pieces were being copied by dozens of other ‘artists’ and companies alike, and I am sure most people have seen
this concept in one way or another over the past 5-7 years. This is still my favorite product line because it was not only successful but because it also influenced other designers and
makers. Now, we continue to evolve and move on to bigger and better things, but we still make and sell these constructions on our site and they still have the same cool and interesting found materials as they did from day one.
on the denver flea wish list:
The Bison with Mountains art print to add a little color and nature to our walls!
Follow dolan geiman:
QUICK FACT #1
We are a husband and wife team,
Dolan and Ali Marie Geiman.
QUICK FACT #2
We’ve been working hard and making art and designs for 15
QUICK FACT #3
For the first few years in business we lived in abandoned spaces and started a clothing line where we recycled and sewed clothes we found in old houses and dumpsters.