Tell us a bit about yourself.
Kin Ship Press is Dan Davis and Hillary Harrison. We design and hand-print things for people and their homes. We use our original illustrations and photographs, and occasionally throw in some manipulated found imagery. Dan grew up in a tiny town in Idaho, where he spent his days jumping from treetop to treetop, wearing a salt lick around his neck. Hillary grew up in a tiny town in West Virginia, where she spent her days running up and down Tuppers Creek. We both moved to Louisville, Kentucky around 12 years ago. We like it here, but we miss tiny towns.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Go on walks. Flip through magazines. Sit on the porch. Enjoy a libation. Hunt for treasures. Make music. Water the plants. Find delicious foods. Giggle with friends. Dip cookies in milk. Watch our stories. Shake it.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
DD: The Thing I’ve Noticed About Me Is… I tend to say this a lot.
HH: Made in Myrtle. Because my dad told me I was conceived at Myrtle Beach, due largely to the fact that my mom looked good in her black swimsuit.
Where does your inspiration come from?
DD: I’m inspired by vintage children’s books and lots and lots of music. The whole cut-and-paste collage aesthetic, along with zine culture, has been a big influence on me. Road trips are always good for inspiration.
HH: I love old photographs, hand-painted signs, and the brain of my bestie Amber Dawn. I also have to give inspirational credit to the ’90s riot grrrl scene because that’s one of the big things that inspired me to make things way back when.
What does handmade mean to you?
Something that isn’t sterile and perfect. Something that doesn’t give you that same numb feeling you get from staring at a computer for too long. Something that has personality and heart and maybe inspires you to want to make something.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
DD: As a kid, Quentin Blake’s illustrations in Roald Dahl books always blew me away. They still do. I love how something could look so janky, but be exactly right. I also love Art Chantry’s style and how nothing is ever too clean. Charley Harper’s prints have been a big influence, because they showed me that less could be more. My mom has been a really big influence on me because she let me feel completely comfortable doing what I wanted to do and taught me that money is never the most important thing.
HH: My Pawpaw Bill. He taught me about the importance of hard work, being resourceful, and doing things yourself. He also pushed me to not get too caught up in worry-warting and to enjoy life. I have no idea where I would be today if he hadn’t been in my life. My friends David and Claude were also super influential. I met them soon after I moved to Louisville when I was 19 and they gave me some much needed encouragement to actually show people what I was making, at a time when I was so shy I could barely even look at people. And whether they knew it or not, they helped me lose a lot of the dumb cynicism and negativity I had left over from high school and helped me notice and appreciate the small things more.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
DD: I’ve never thought about it. I guess I’ve always enjoyed creating and making things. As for process, the only constants are coffee and tunes. My newest thing is that I’ve been trying to edit more. So there’s a good amount of coming back to something that I’ve already convinced myself was “done.”
HH: I’ve never had that moment of self-declaration. I won a coloring contest when I was 8. Maybe that was my moment? As for my creative process, it’s kind of all over the place, but it often involves lots of coffee, the morning time, and sorting through rolls of film.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
DD: I’d love to be able to watch Charley Harper screenprint. Also, I’d love to see Wylie Dufresne in his kitchen and watch him continuously recreate things that people think have already been done. Oh, and Kanye West. Because he’s Kanye West.
HH: I imagine there would’ve been lots of interesting scraps of paper scattered everywhere around Hannah Höch’s studio. And I like her initials. I’d also like to peek into the studio while Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard recorded one of their albums. I bet I’d get chills and swoon a little.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
DD: I have an afghan that I crocheted with my fingers, with the help of my mom. Being left-handed, crochet hooks were always challenging, so I learned how to use just my fingers. It’s my first memory of making something really tangible, from start to finish.
HH: It’s hard to pick just one thing, but I do love the two sketchbooks I have that belonged to my mom in elementary school. They’re full of colored pencil drawings of birds and insects, along with carefully written descriptions below each drawing.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
DD: I wiggle. Naptime doesn’t hurt either.
HH: Take a walk. Or maybe go on a drive. Listen to some records. Pal around.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Working for ourselves. No soul crushing day jobs, please. (Hopefully a lot sooner than in ten years!) Owning a house on some land in the mountains would be swell too —with family and friends nearby. Dan wants a little salt and pepper in his beard. Hillary wants evenings on the porch swing, with giggles and cackles in the air.