Interview with Artist Heather Day, San Francisco

When we look at Heather Day’s artwork we see a rush of water elements, unfamiliar textures and cool mellowness.

If we stare long enough at one of her pieces our entire mood transitions to a meditative state. Our contributor, Taylor, got to spend some time with Heather in her San Francisco studio. 


tepping into Heather’s Dogpatch studio and simply spending time with her has been one of the highlights of my seven years of living in San Francisco. She is an artist that I have admired for some time now, whom I originally discovered via her amazing instagram account Her creative eye shines through in all that she does, whether it be hosting people in her studio for curated dinners, doing a solo road trip to Canada for inspiration, or redecorating her space. I have truly enjoyed watching her journey. I interviewed Heather on a very sunny November day on a brown leather sofa in the main room of her studio.

What is the first piece of art you remember creating as a child?
When I was in kindergarden, I was obsessed with tiles. You know the ones that you would lay out on the table into different patterns? That was my thing everyday. I could sit there for hours building weird compositions and patterns.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?
I think it depends on the time of year when you ask me. I’ve used painting as this excuse to get outside and see the world. I didn’t get to travel abroad in college, so I got the travel bug when I moved to San Francisco.

I also feel rewarded when I get to talk to people and show them my edge. People are intimidated by abstract art, including the artist, so I love approaching them in a non-pretentious way.

What is your proudest career moment thus far?
I have two. The first goes back to traveling. I have a lot of moments while traveling in my car when I simply have to find a campsite in the middle of the night and don’t exactly know what terrain or scenery is outside. Once, when I crossed the Canadian border, I stopped for the night only to wake up with frost covering my car windows. As I scraped the ice away, the windows revealed the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen. The morning light was hitting the lake, and the mountains were glowing behind it. I got so emotional and jumped out of my sleeping bag. As I stared at the lake I felt like ‘Wow, this is my life’.

The second moment was moving into this studio space. I have so much gratitude toward any space I’ve had but this one is just ‘wow’. I’ve been here almost 4 years now. I thought it was going to be strange to wake up in my studio and be living with my work, but I keep my bedroom very neutral and it works! There is such an energy in this space that I will never take for granted.


Tell me about Studio Table:
It’s just me in this giant space, so that’s why I decided to start Studio Table. I host dinners at this table here, and it’s a great excuse for me to take a break from painting and be social for a night. The dinners are currently once a month because I don’t want it to totally interrupt my focus. It’s been going really well. The dinners are free and the hope is that they will be sponsored by various companies. I really want to bring people together because I love what it means to have dinner with friends. Originally I thought it would just be close friends but then I decided I wanted to get out of my bubble and decided to include strangers. It’s funny, my own friends are asking: When am I going to be invited to a dinner?

What’s your perfect weekend in San Francisco look like?
I’ve been working the past two weekends in a row so I love the ability to have a leisurely morning. Like last weekend, I woke up, did a little bit of work, met friends for brunch on Valencia and just let the day guide me. I still love living in San Francisco. I love the perspective it gives me when I travel and then have a full weekend here.
What is your favorite distraction?
I like to watch artist documentaries or 15 minute Youtube videos to kick me in the butt and keep me inspired. I’ve gotten really good at leaving my phone in a separate area of the studio so that I don’t go down the Facebook or Instagram hole. I also love to go climbing at Dogpatch Boulders.

Rapid Fire Questions:

You only have a 30 minute break in your day, what are you going to do? 
I thought today I would treat myself to a sandwich from Just For You Cafe. They know me too well, I always get the egg sandwich. What I usually do is put in my order and then go to Workshop Residence. They work with artists to manufacture their goods and then sell them at the store. It’s really amazing.


What’s next on your to-do list?
Well, today, I have to respond to several emails. A couple of interior designers are seeking pieces, and a gallery that has some of my pieces is wondering what I’m currently working on. Then, I’m packing for a trip to Sebastopol to stay at my friend’s apple orchard.

What are some of your favorite SF spots?
Craftsman and Wolves (all of their locations), Azalea (which I need to stop going to), Little Paper Planes (my friend Kelly owns that shop, she is such a great curator), General Store (that’s one of my new favorites stores).


Where is your favorite weekend brunch place?
I really like Plow but the wait there is ridiculous. I also really like Universal Cafe.

Beach or Mountains?
This is a hard one. Right now, mountains. I’ve been very inspired by the ridges of mountains, which you can see in a lot of my work right now. The perspective and contrast that mountains give is just really great.

What is the best way for you to relax?
Hmmm, it’s interesting. I don’t know if painting is my way of relaxing any more. I would say reading is a big one. Also, as I said before, watching documentaries.

What do you love most about California?

Gosh, I don’t think I could ever leave. I was considering moving to New York this past February or March but it never happened. I was on a waitlist for an artist residence in Brooklyn and I just couldn’t do it. I love being in San Francisco. I moved here without ever being in the city and that first time coming over the Bay Bridge I was in awe. I also really love the outdoor culture here.

For more of Heather’s work follow her on Instagram!

*as told to Taylor Brown
*Original images for California Weekend by Tylor Brown

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2 Responses
  • Pam mayhew
    May 29, 2017

    Lov d this interview with Heather Day – I think I will start following you.

  • Chad Jahnel
    November 18, 2017

    Very Inspired by her work….looking forward to see what she will do next.

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