Artist Heather Clark Lynn runs her burgeoning business, Spirit of Salt, out of her Oak Cliff home (Photo by Christina Childress)
Lynn wearing one of her hand-painted jackets (Photo by Christina Childress)
Lynn's canvas of choice? Vintage fabric from the Army Navy store (Photo by Christina Childress)
Hand-painted symbols elevate a leather pouch to a meaningful accessory (Photo by Christina Childress)
Influenced by her background in graphic design, Lynn methodically sketches each design before she paints (Photo by Christina Childress)
Heather Clark Lynn (Photo by Christina Childress)
When I meet Heather Clark Lynn for coffee on a workday near here office, I immediately pick her out from the crowd. She’s wearing snakeskin boots, a white button-down, and a vintage army-green jacket. Hand-painted on the back of the jacket is one of her designs — a mesmerizing arrangement of symbols including golden leaves and two intertwined snakes.
Much like the embellished jackets, wall hangings, and accessories that she creates for her burgeoning business, Spirit of Salt, Lynn radiates a stylish and cool aura — but one that is layered with hidden meaning and complexity. We’ve been chatting for more than 30 minutes before I notice two delicate gold serpents dangling from her ears behind her long blonde hair.
“I always have to have something a little bit… weird in anything that I’m wearing,” Lynn says, pointing out another dainty reptile wrapped around her finger — her engagement ring. “I always tell people Queen Victoria had a snake wedding band so it’s not that unusual.”
Lynn is drawn to snakes for their rich symbolic history — and is fascinated by the deeply personal and artistic aspects of symbolism in general. For her commission-based work, she enjoys conceptualizing visuals that hold personal meaning for clients.
“There are elements of peoples’ life stories that you can turn into a piece of art,” she says. “Anyone can draw a beautiful flower arrangement, but if it has symbols that speak to someone’s own background, it makes a more treasured piece.”
Lynn began painting two years ago while recovering from tendonitis surgery and unable to work on the fiber arts — knitting, weaving, and macramé — she had been passionate about since childhood. She has since developed a recognizable aesthetic: a combination of precise graphic style (by day she is associate creative director for Dallas-based O&H Brand Design) and art nouveau influences including illustrators Aubrey Beardsley and Harry Clarke.
“They really spoke to the desire I had to create art that was just a little bit unsettling and weird but still beautiful,” Lynn says, adding that she is drawn to anything striking and unusual, whether it’s an old fairy tale, a science fiction film, or a beautiful wallpaper covered in eyeballs.
Spirit of Salt, which Lynn runs out of the spare bedroom in her Oak Cliff home, started with painting on scraps of paper from the Army Navy store and has quickly grown via word of mouth and social media. She now spends nights and weekends fielding requests for small and large-scale commissions, and even a few tattoos.
“I don’t have any tattoos, but I’m in love with tattoo art. I’m just too noncommittal,” she says.
I suppose it’s easier to wear your heart on a jacket, I ask ? “Exactly. It’s kind of like tattoos for your clothes.”