“Everybody complicates it. It’s not complicated—I do art.” So sweetly said in a country-time twang by Donovan Swick, Knoxville, Tennessee’s very own rising artistic visionary. With a undeniable charisma, he continues: “You wanna call it fashion, you wanna call it furniture, you wanna call it interiors….you wanna call it makin’ babies…it’s all simply one beautiful thing—it’s just art.” And there is more to come from Mr. Swick, above and beyond his good ol’ boy charm and catch phrases. The trick is to figure out how he will wow us next.
This seemingly down home family man of six, who loves and adores his ever supportive wife, Tara, had a palingenesis from the life he once had that began with a broken home, leading him to a life of drugs and a couple brushes with death in his youth. Swick went to hell and back again, picking himself up by his own bootstraps in his twenties and completing his college education with a degree in social work from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. And although he was a social worker for the homeless and special needs children for a short while, he never allowed his passion for art get away from him. When social working wasn’t able to properly support him and his growing family, Swick, being the driven multi-talented, multi-tasker he was, took on a myriad of odd jobs. From being a musician in several local bands, to falling into selling furniture, he worked tirelessly to find a way to incorporate art into his life full-time. From being a top seller of furniture, to apprenticing for Kristopher Kendrick, Knoxville’s cherished preservationist, to transitioning into interior designing, Donovan Swick has made indubitable connections within the furniture and design community. These connections have enabled him to come into his own artistic vision, manifesting a unique voice in the fashion and furniture world that is quite captivating.
Donovan Swick most recently gained notoriety for setting an unprecedented mark upon the Fall 2010 High Point Furniture Market in North Carolina by exhibiting his very own “fashion opera” runway show amongst the hustle and bustle of the 100 year-old furniture trade show. Not only did he present a living art runway show of his own line of clothing that would make Marc Jacobs jealous, he also had his own line of furniture on display as well. And his creativity doesn’t stop at his fashion and furniture design. He also personally hand constructs his pieces from recycled/reclaimed textiles. Whether it is left over swatches of material on their way to the trash that he sews into a pattern he sees in his head, or he finds wood pieces from a torn down barn or factory that he refurbishes into a completely unique furniture ensemble, Swick is always creatively eco. And if that is not enough, he has become a sought after interior designer, juggling between not only his own company, Swick Aesthetics, but also the two companies he got his start in, Braden’s Fine Furniture and Interiors and MossCreek Designs.
So what does this Jack-of-all-trades make of himself and his success? He emphatically lets me know he has nothing to do with it. “I am just a steward, I am not the ship.” “…The Creator [God]…is the true source of creativity [the ship].” “Whatever He has for me is already done, and I am just walking into it.” Swick has much cause to evangelically stand his ground; bible quotes cocked and ready, since he literally came back from the dead about 20 years ago. Swick goes on to say that he doesn’t regret one thing since it has made him into the person he is today and allowed him to come to his true purpose: to help others open their hearts and soul through “the language of art and the language of love.” “God is love.” Any work he does now, either with his clothing line or his continuously evolving fashion operas or his furniture, honors that distinct purpose by carrying the underlying theme of what he calls a “Re-love-ution.” He feels he is ushering in a new Renaissance—of love.
Donovan Swick keeps it simple. He trusts the bigger plan in store for him and thrives because of the light and love he exudes. This Jack-of-all-trades has proven himself to be a true Renaissance man of the arts and is giving his competition a run for their money.
Originally published in DStripped Magazine
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