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Craft With Conscience

'Craft With Conscience' began in early 2016 as a weekly Instagram series dedicated to sharing the work of other creatives and as a platform to openly discuss certain aspects of ethical art-making and consuming in the age of the internet and social media.  

This series arose out of my own frustrations related to seeing my work constantly copied stitch-for-stitch, sold without permission, and credited to other people.  Rather than wallowing in unproductive negative emotions, I wanted to find a way to bring this common issue to light in a positive way.  My solution was to share the work of artists, crafters, designers, and makers who I greatly admire for their originality and dedication. Initially, I shared work similar in materials or subject matter to my own, having heard the argument, "There are only so many ways to stitch plants, I'm not copying you..." one too many times.  The truth is, no matter what the medium or subject, every artist from hobby crafter to professional painter has their own perspective and voice. It takes effort to develop one's visual vocabulary and it can be disheartening when your's is taken and misused by other individuals and sometimes larger companies.

All that being said, now is an incredible time for working artists because of the vast resources of the internet including sources of inspiration, the ability to reach a large and global audience, and as a community building tool. As you may know, I love sharing my work on Instagram and following other makers. It's a wonderful way to connect with other artists, be inspired, and feel supported, but we all need to be aware of how we use these resources and what effect it may have on others.

Since the start of 2016, 'Craft With Conscience' has grown and evolved just like any other creative pursuit and has recently expanded to include short interviews with featured artists. I've asked participating artists a series of questions about their studio process, sources of inspiration, and how image-sharing sites like Instagram and Pinterest influence and affect them. I hope you read on to see what they have to say!

Craft With Conscience: Erin Dollar of Cotton & Flax

Sarah Benning

Erin Dollar // Designer // San Diego, CA


Erin Dollar is a textile and surface pattern designer who specializes in minimalist geometric designs. Her artwork is screen printed onto natural fabrics like linen and wool to create modern home goods that are handcrafted with care in California. Erin’s passion for collaboration has expanded the scope of her work — her second fabric yardage collection with Robert Kaufman fabrics debuts in August.

Check out more of her beautiful work at Cottonandflax.com and her Instagram

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

The internet makes my creative career as a textile designer possible. I got my start as a creative business owner on Etsy -- their platform helped to level the playing field for artists who wanted to try out e-commerce without a massive investment. Initially that gave me a way to share my patterned throw pillows with a larger market, without having to do expensive markets or trade shows. I'm grateful that these resources exist!

Connecting with other artists online, including the vibrant communities I’ve encountered on Flickr (RIP), the Etsy Forums, and now Instagram, has played a huge part in my ability to share my work with people beyond my local community of friends and supporters. The internet allows me to work collaboratively with companies over email, without leaving the comfort of my studio. Social media allows art directors and home decor enthusiasts to find my work organically, and go behind the scenes of my journey as an artist. What could be better than that??

At the same time, the internet can also be a huge distraction from my work, and worse, contribute to feelings of worry and self-doubt about my creative career. Distraction and self-doubt are normal parts of life, but I find that the internet really amplifies those things for me. I really thrive when I can put some structure around my time online -- setting tasks for each day, and keeping my phone and computer out of reach when I'm working on creative tasks.

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

I find that I create my best work when I spend some time away from social media. I maintain creative momentum in my projects when I can put blinders on and ignore what others are making and sharing for a while. I've found that spending too much time scrolling on Instagram really puts a damper on my creative fire, which is such a pity, because I really enjoy seeing what all my creative friends are up to, and getting peeks into their lives! I'm currently trying to add more offline creative play and discovery back into my routine... trips to museums or design events with friends help me to feel connected to the creative community, without adding as much self-doubt into the equation.

On the other hand, lots of my favorite creative collaborations have come about because of connections on social media. Encountering more quilters and fiber artists on Instagram was a big reason why I pitched my first screenprinted fabric yardage collection to Robert Kaufman... I was excited to create something special for the quilters who had requested fabric from me for years on social media!

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

Through lots of practice. Starting a business around my craft really forced me to focus in on what makes my work unique, and getting feedback from customers further helped me to understand and describe my artistic style. The modern, minimalist geometric patterns on my textile designs are all drawn by hand, which helps to give them a unique, imperfect quality that sets them apart from digitally created designs. Sharing my craft and teaching creative workshops has also helped me to hone my creative voice! By teaching others the methods behind my work, I've been able to see how my students take the exact same materials and tools, and create completely different designs. It's a great reminder of the incredible variety of creative work that can be created with a simple set of tools.

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

Yes, this is a problem that comes up from time to time. Luckily I’ve mostly had good experiences connecting with those who’ve truly infringed on my creative work, and making things right. When it comes to the more grey areas of inspiration in the craft world, things can get more complicated. Those of us who have put years into learning a craft, and honing our skills know how frustrating it is when hobbyists leave comments like, "@friend Let's make this!" in our Instagram feeds. Some people are shameless when it comes to biting another artist's style, and I'd be lying if I said it never got under my skin.

The reality is that many aspects of what I do in my design work (other than the artwork or 2-D designs themselves) cannot be covered by a patent or copyright. I think all creative business owners should connect with an expert in the world of copyright law, to learn more about what you can and cannot protect in your designs. Information is power!

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

Make time for play, experimentation, and random chance in your creative process. Take good care of your body and mind, because they are the ultimate tools in your creative process.

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

Feeling very inspired lately by my friends, and the way they bring their creativity into their work. Laure Joliet is a photographer who I love to follow, because her view of the world is sensitive and beautiful. I also recently stumbled upon Soft Century on Instagram, and it's so fun to see her colorful, wild weavings pop up in my feed -- they make me smile.

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Craft With Conscience: Judit Just of Jujujust

Sarah Benning

Jujujust // Textile Artist // Asheville, NC


Judit Just is a textile artist raised and born in Barcelona, Spain, but she currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she moved in 2013 and where she develops her textile’s brand, known by Jujujust. She studied fashion design, sculpture and textile art, where she specialized in weaving and embroidery. She grew up surrounded by textiles and actually learned weaving craftsmanship through her mom when she was little. She takes some old weaving techniques and gives it a twist using vibrant color combinations and a bunch of beautiful vintage threads.

Check out more of her amazing work on Instagram or her Etsy Shop

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one's own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists' lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life? In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

I had an unexpected start on Etsy and Instagram. I wasn’t planning on opening a shop at all. Everything really kicked off back on 2012, while I was concluding my textile arts final project, I started selling some of my creations, weaving assignments or some more creative homework and trying to sell them on my website. I needed to do it urgently because at the same time I was planning on moving to the United States. Some clients started asking me for variations of the tapestries available online, and I begin to get more requests and customized orders. After a little bit of time, a bunch of hard work, all together with the creation of my Instagram account, everything suddenly exploded just at the beginning of this “weaving movement” that’s been going on for the last few years. I often think that it worked for me because I was there at the appropriate time and all these elements combined helped me arrive to this point where I found myself now. Without the internet and social media I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing, and more importantly I couldn’t be making a living out of it. Even that sometimes it is really challenging I feel so grateful for these times we get to live in where kind of everything’s possible if you are persistent.

Social media especially helps me a lot to decide what should I be working on, what people like and dislike, the color schemes they want for their homes, what they want to purchase or just see for pleasure, it guides me in such a unique way. People I have never spoken to can ask me for something special and we can work together to create something beautiful and I love it.

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?

When I’m working is where I find my most important inspirations, and especially I have found that the more tired I am, the more ideas I get.

As I’m weaving, I usually go crazy jumping on many diverse ideas at the same time like a distracted butterfly. I try to make fast sketches and secure some of the color combinations that suddenly pop on my mind, as fast as possible. Sometimes while I’m on a walk I get some forms, shapes and thoughts. Sometimes I imagine and interpret a song, or a smell or a landscape in a more synesthesic way. Sometimes I dream about certain textures. I’ve always been a little drawn by the concept of synesthesia, a mix of impressions that gets you carried away bringing you to an involuntary secondary sensory pathway. Wassily Kandinsky, the father of abstraction, was a synesthete, always trying to evoke sound through color and shapes and he’s always been a huge inspiration for me.

With my weavings I try to seek the pleasure between the relationship of a tactile versus a visual synesthesia, touching colors, listening to textures, tasting shapes.... perceiving colors represented by certain shapes, and vice versa. But specially, my purpose is to share this experience with everyone else and give them some colorful goosebumps.

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3. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

My best strategy is not be afraid and keep working no matter what. I’ve found that if you really want your business to succeed, it's really important to be unique. Try to offer a very specific kind of product. Do not copy. Study your competition and do the opposite. Be original and believe in your work, no matter what. And try not to get too inspired on someone else’s work. Ultimately, just keep working and creating. Keeping my hands busy is what helps me the most to keep my mind clear and focused.

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4. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

I’ve learned that it’s important to take a short break from everything once a day. For the first two years, I was trying to get my shop up and running and I was working all the time. All the time. Something that's helped me a lot lately is routine. It's something that I've been struggling with for some time. Since my studio is my home, it's really hard to disconnect. But it's so necessary to focus on something else once in a while. I stretch, dance, go for a walk, lay down in the sun or play the piano to have some little breaks. Getting a dog helped me out a lot, too. I like to keep a consistent daily schedule and try to have my weekends free.

Organization and routine go hand in hand. However, it's important to know your own limits and not to expect more from yourself than what you can realistically accomplish. I try to keep an agenda and schedule my orders there on a weekly basis. This helps with the stress of owning my own business. It's also a good reminder to enjoy my work as much as I can, and to make each piece special and with lots of love.

The last piece of advice I’ll share is about customer service: little details make a big difference. Be sure to reply quickly and follow-up, if you can. Even though it can be overwhelming sometimes, I try to follow up with every order to see if my clients have received their tapestries (and that they like them). I sometimes send process shots, too. Knowing exactly what your clients like, and doing it again and again, will help you grow your business.

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5. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

I do love to find Instagram accounts that compile a bunch of different artists from all kinds of disciplines like, @hifructosemag, @designsponge, but also from the textile arts group like @thefiberstudio, @embroidery@textileoftheday, and I do love to follow your craft with conscience series too to discover new emerging artists.

Other awesome creatives I love to follow and that are truly inspiring: @thebigonthesmall, @rachelbhayes, @suzanna_scott, @kimkeever.art, @iamadampogue, @accidentallywesanderson, @pipnpop, @aude_franjou, @sally_hewett, virgin_honey, ....

As for favorite artists, I would like to mention some old time favorites; Sheila Hicks, for her innovation and astonishing use and blend of technique, color and materials; and Josep Grau-Garriga, because of his breathtaking dimensions and for his combination of techniques from the past and the present, fusing them but always tying them up in a beautiful political way.

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Craft With Conscience: Nadia Nizamudin

Sarah Benning

Nadia Nizamudin // Mixed media artist // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Nadia Binti Nizamudin is a visual artist, working primarily with textile painting, embroidery, and mixed media collage. Her artwork focuses on found, reclaimed or recycled materials and is always represented by bold and bright colors. Both her collage and textile painting carry narratives around loss, relationships and hope.

Check out more of her amazing work on Instagram.

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

Like many artists these days, the internet is a vital element in the branding (and business) of my art. I started out as a printmaker and I have a small printmaking lifestyle shop running and how I used the internet for that business is different than how I use it for my art. I have been painting and doing embroidery and collage work for a while, since I was in university and never felt that I could pursue this seriously. When I decided to though, I approached the internet (mainly Instagram) as a vessel of self monitoring and progression, also to find a community of like minded creatives and artists. I resisted self promotion and branding for the longest time until one day I realized that although the idea of being 'discovered' is romantic, in reality, especially at this day and age, you have to do the dirty work yourself. No one is going to see your work and appreciate it unless you push it out there. And the moment I went in that direction, good things started coming my way.

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

To be honest I find this to be a really difficult question to answer. Most of the time, I have no idea where I got my inspiration from. I am jealous of artists that seem to get inspired by being in nature, or a piece of history, or buildings. I do notice that I am heavily triggered by the concept of grief and loss and heartbreak. They do not directly translate to my work but instead the raw emotions will spur my creative energy for a long time. One of my favorite textile piece was sparked by a beautiful poem from W.S. Merwin. I kept repeating it in my head, maintaining the mood until I finished the piece (it took a month). When it comes to social media though, I do take whiffs off work of artists that I love. Sometimes I am inspired by their use of color and imagery, which will make me choose mine, or I see their technique and think of ways of how I could reiterate the style and make it my own.

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

Do I have a solid creative voice? I think I am still in there, testing the waters. It took me years to slowly realize that my passion on textiles and texture are more than just an occupational hazard of being a printmaker. It also took a lot of guts for me to stand true to that niche of mine and give myself the permission to explore and play with  my two loves. And while experimenting I was also aware that another element kept on appearing in my work, which is collage. I have been doing it since I was a teenager. I remember telling myself that I could try to find a unique new style that are individual and fresh for my work, OR I could stick to what I truly love and feel comfortable enough to really test my limits and boundaries. Of course there are so many things that piqued my interest and I would go crazy with trying to figure out how to incorporate them in my work but over time I trust the process and the power of creative editing. And that, gives me my creative voice.

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

I hardly use Pinterest and only go to it to finalize my research: I might have an idea to try and I just wanted to see if it has been done before. I have never came across people copying my work although that scares me; the inner critic inside me makes me think of scenarios like the copycat artists make a way better version of my work, which to be honest would be a tough thing to handle emotionally. But at the same time I think that it is pretty hard to copy from my style due to the simple techniques: it is just another interpretation of embroidery, just another spin of collage mixed media. But should that happen, I guess I have to consider it as a blessing in which I have to find a different style or narrative and break out of my comfort zone.

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

1 ) Keep doing it. I have a full time job that is very demanding mentally and physically, and 2 kids below 5. But consistent practice sharpens your skill and strengthen your voice as an artist, which will help you when your career take off.

2 ) Put yourself out there. I want to share this story about this 2 wonderful and successful printmakers I knew when I was just starting out. I've always thought that their success was a mixture of luck and 'a dream come true', that they were discovered and got famous overnight, but apparently all their media appearances (in Uppercase mag, for instance) was because they were the ones who approached the magazine/blog/companies. Every single project or social media or print appearances in their first few years were due to them reaching out, and submitting their portfolios. Once they got that recognition and attention, the ball kept rolling and never stopped. It completely changed my perspective on self promotion. It is no more something embarrassing, but more to being crucial and a necessity to a successful, satisfying art career.

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

I love to discover artists that do different things than I do, so first up would be Sherry McCourt. I also love Lisa Golightly, and more recently, Nor Tijan Firdaus. Each of them produce different work, but I love it.

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Laura Garcia Serventi of ART and PEOPLE

Sarah Benning

Laura Garcia Serventi // Painter and Illustrator // Brooklyn, NY


Laura Garcia Serventi is an Argentinian painter and illustrator based in Brooklyn .

Her work, deeply inspired by her love of the natural world is also related to the memories of  her childhood spent in Buenos Aires.

Filled with an exuberant variety of plants, from cacti and succulents to fanned palm trees and orchids in bloom, her  paintings are an ode to the botanical world and all its wonders and oddities.

Laura's work is always evolving and ranges  from large scaled original paintings to affordable art  prints, editorial work and collaborations with fashion brands such  as Patrizia Pepe and Charles & Keith. She's launching a collection of  silk scarves with her designs in summer 2018.

Check out more of her amazing work on her website or on Instagram!

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional work.

The Internet gave me the opportunity to create a business out of my art practice. It showed me that there isn't only one path to create and show art. It empowered me and gave me freedom.

After I graduated from art school and then photography school I found myself a bit lost, I knew that it was going to be very hard to find a gallery to represent me and sell original work, and after many tries and errors and a lot of frustration, I realized I could try to create something different on my own taking advantage of the internet and all its possibilities. I had nothing to lose. I also needed an income so as I took a full-time job, I also opened an Etsy shop with a few art prints (reproductions from my original paintings). The shop took two years to really pick up and it was thanks to many bloggers who featured my paintings and the amazing Etsy community, that my work started to flourish and be noticed.

Thanks to the internet my prints are today in houses all around the world, which keeps surprising and humbling me.

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

I draw my inspiration from nature and specifically from botanical gardens, wherever I travel I visit the local one, no matter how small or out of the way it is. I find them and their greenhouses fascinating , a patch of wilderness in the middle of a city, they're theatrical, staged, and yet so real, you can smell the wet soil and feel the humidity sticking all over your skin.

I also look back a lot in Art History, and of course this new area of social media has opened the doors to knowing other contemporary artists and creative people, which has been incredibly enriching.

With the Internet we can look at work that is being done today by living artists, we can see their process, their studio, have a peek into their personal lives, that's incredible.

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

I've always loved painting. So when I had to choose a career I knew right away what I wanted to do. I wanted to be an artist but I didn't know how or what it really meant.

I attended the School of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires, where I studied Painting, looking for answers. I loved the process and learned a lot but it was not enough and I started developing interest in other mediums. I moved to Italy to study Photography and while I was there, my art projects were mainly photographic, and then I stopped painting all together. But after a while, paint started leaking back into my projects : from a few painted details in a photographic collage project , to a series of b&w photographs colored by hand, to painting mural size landscapes just to use as photographic backdrops.

I had moved to N.Y. by then. Looking back ,I think those big landscapes defined my return to painting and triggered my plant obsession. I started painting again after that and I hope I'll never stop.

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

It's very tricky, and that's the bad part of all this exposure we're experiencing. Luckily I haven't found any copies of my work as far as I know, but I'm totally aware that it's a real possibility and surely worries me.

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

My advice would be to create a routine, be consistent, create short term goals and try to stick to them. Look around you for inspiration. Choose a theme you're interested in and develop a series. Be persistent.

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

painters /illustrators

other  art mediums

design

gardens

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Anna Hultin of Olander CO. Embroidery

Sarah Benning

Anna Hultin // Embroidery Artist // Loveland, CO



Anna Hultin is a wife, mama and artist living in Loveland, Colorado. After receiving a BFA in drawing from Colorado State University, she continued to pursue drawing, sculpture, and installation. Since becoming a mama her work has taken on a new, more flexible form: needle and thread. Her embroideries are inspired by her land; from the the vast and rugged landscape of Colorado to the intimacy of her own garden.

Check out more of her amazing work on her Etsy, website or Instagram!

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?


The internet is such a huge tool to my work. I use it to research what other artists are doing and how they are doing it to give me inspiration in my own work. For example I see how other artists are photographing their pieces and then apply the things I think work well to my own practice. Instagram has also been a huge resource in my work. I get a majority of my business and opportunities through IG. It is such a great visual platform and lends itself so well to the work I do. Of course I have to be careful with social media because it can quickly become an overpowering factor in my work. I become tempted to make work that only appeals to a social
media audience and then miss out on experimenting and growing my work. So I am always working on balancing how I let it influence me.

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work? In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?


The biggest place I find my inspiration is from the land I live on in Northern Colorado and in my own back yard. My husband and I decided when we got married to stay where we were from and start a family. As a family we have become dedicated to finding and latching onto our roots and our community. In a world where mobility is so prevalent, we see value in investing in one place and in the land we live on. Part of that investing is finding beauty in the landscape that surrounds us. In my most current work I am stitching every plant growing in our home garden, and I’m learning that there is endless beauty to be found there.


Social media has mostly affected the way that I present my work. I have been a practicing artist for about 6 years and never have I taken so many photos of my work as I have since starting my Etsy shop and Instagram account! Because of this I have a huge amount of documentation of every embroidery piece I’ve made. This helps me to have perspective on what I’m making

because I can go back and look at where it’s come from in past works. I can see more clearly where there was success and failure in every past work which then directs me in my future work.

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?


My voice has been informed by the various practical ways that art has had to fit into my life to ensure I keep making it. One of the biggest things I realized after graduating was that if I wanted to continue to make artwork outside of school it was going to have to be sustainable in my everyday life. Meaning, if I wanted to have children, then artwork was going to have to find a way to fit into the rhythm of family life. When I became a mama, it became apparent to me that I needed a break from the gallery scene. I decided to learn a simple craft so I could keep creating without the pressure of fitting into the art world. So I picked up embroidery and quickly became addicted. It is the perfect medium for a mom because it can be stored easily and it doesn’t involve a lot of equipment and space to create.


Another part of keeping my work sustainable is that it has to fulfill some purpose to me personally. While one ultimate goal is selling work, the other is making work that stimulates me mentally. That is how I arrived at my current garden series and my past native plant and tree series. I want to know more about the plants growing in my yard and in my state, and I find that by drawing them with thread I gain an intimacy to that plant that makes me appreciate everyday beauty in new and invigorating ways.

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?


So far I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t come across anyone infringing on my work. If (or when) I do come across it, I would be so disappointed and would certainly address whomever is doing it and ask that they make it right by crediting me.

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?


I think the biggest thing I’ve learned so far and would pass on is patience. I’m someone who expects results right away and when they don’t happen I feel like I failed. The social media game can really heighten this feeling because you’ll have pieces that you think people will love and they don’t. So be patient and move forward doing the work you know is good and the rest will follow. I also have to constantly remind myself that all things happen in seasons. Sometimes I struggle with feeling like I left the “gallery scene” when I started having babies. My work used to be a lot more conceptual and drawing based, and some days I really miss it and am not sure how to
bridge the gap between my new and old work. Once again here is where patience comes in. I know that someday the two will be bridged but right now I need to just continue with the work in front of me.

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?


Yes! I draw constant inspiration from @treeoflifelandscaping. They are a local landscaping company that has really informative and beautiful posts about my local landscape. I also love the work of @lyndsey_mcdougall and find her embroidery so beautiful. I am constantly inspired by @leenowelllwilson who is also a mom and an artist, and she bridges the two vocations beautifully. I love the ceramic work of @jennavandenbrink. One last one is @drew_austin4567. His drawings are just amazing, and I can’t get enough of his feed.

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All Images provided by the artist.

Craft with Conscience: Adam Pritchett

Sarah Benning

Adam Pritchett // Embroidery Artist //  The Lake District, England


Adam Pritchett is a hand embroidery artist based in the Lake District, England—his work is focused around mystical, botanical, and entomological themes, mixing traditional hand embroidery techniques with contemporary subjects, and hand dyed textiles.

Check out more of his amazing work on his website, Instagram, or on Twitter.

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

It is a very complicated subject. Personally, I still have a full time day job out of necessity as my art doesn’t support me enough to be freelance (as I would love to be), so I do all of my art in my spare time & at weekends. The internet is a crucial tool for me as an artist, giving me the freedom to work and promote my art whenever I have time to and that flexibility has no comparison with what it would have been like 20 years ago. Without it I don’t think I would have even been able to have taught myself embroidery to begin with, I have lots of old books on stitching but most of the knowledge I gained from them didn’t really click until I watched human hands making on Youtube.

Not to mention the huge amount of support & exchange that I gain from interacting with and being supported by folks online, my art honestly would not be the same without the internet.

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

I am a big book worm, I love reading fantasy/horror/sci-fi books and a huge amount of my consumption of literature and film feeds in to my embroidery work, very obviously to many people, I’m sure! Fortunately enough for me, I live on the edge of the Lake District National Park, so I am constantly inspired by the landscapes and nature around me, much of my botanical/insect themes definitely come from that place.

The internet plays a big part of that too, all the resources and information that is so easily at your disposal just makes the opportunity for finding new ideas so instantaneous. From following lots of illustrators and artists online, you get a glimpse in to other creative peoples process too, which I think has vastly improved my method and growth.

I think about composition & colour palettes now before starting a piece, where I always used to be very impulsive and unplanned. It’s helped me to grow far faster than I would have ever been able to on my own.

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

This was something that I struggled with really profoundly when I began embroidery. I would often find myself toiling with an idea for a new piece after hours of research and still be sat staring at a blank piece of fabric, or you’d have an idea, but no direction to implement it. I studied fine art at university, so finding creative inspiration has been part of my life for a number of years now, and honestly, it never gets any easier, particularly in terms of finding your niche in a wider art community.

In my experience, the best way to find your own unique voice is to first know what interests you; write lists, read books, do research in areas that excite you just to discover new things. When you have begun to develop your own visual catalog of themes, images, subjects, that compose who you are as an individual, those are all at your disposal to translate in to new artwork. Work created by you, inspired by your point of view is going to carry your voice & personality far better, and more naturally than forcing yourself to make work that fits with an idea of what your style should be.

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

Mmm, this is another very common experience I have found as an embroidery artist, and particularly as one that does everything freehand and does not design or sell patterns. The crafts community is wonderful and has an incredible exchange of knowledge and skills that I think is so encouraging to everyone from beginner to experienced, but the the drawback can sometimes be people thinking that it’s acceptable to directly copy an artists work. I am often asked for tutorials on how to recreate my spider pieces step-by-step (pretty much every time I post one), and generally I don’t reply. I’m always happy to answer technical questions about stitches, and I’ve taught classes before on how to do traditional embroidery stitches, but I don’t want to ever give tutorials on how to copy my work that has taken a number of years for me to develop in my own way. I’d always encourage folks to learn technical skills, and to develop your own voice to apply those skills in your own way.

I have had some very negative experiences with other people directly stealing my photographs and videos, removing watermarks and posting them on their own instagram accounts without crediting me. That is never okay, and I always respond swiftly having them taken down by instagram — their copyright infringement form is really good at having things like that taken down. But there is still an account on Youtube that is hosting my videos on their channel & profiting from the advertising and Youtube have refused to take them down because I haven’t ‘proven’ that they’re mine, which is incredibly frustrating. There are certainly big drawbacks to sharing your work online!  

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

Speaking from my own experiences, as I mentioned earlier, finding your voice is a really important step to making original, interesting artwork that people engage with, and I think it’s probably a key point.

Another really important aspect that I think gets often overlooked, and I certainly didn’t take more seriously until recently. Photographing your work, well. The number of people I see that have spent hours making a beautiful piece of art, and just take a terrible picture on their phone, under artificial light, from a bad angle. You’re not doing yourself any justice. That’s not to say you need an expensive camera, because you really don’t. Take your time to set up shots from multiple angles to see which works best at the end, use little props to make your pictures more visually appealing. And where you can, try to always take pictures in natural light, they ALWAYS look so much better than under a lamp, or with a flash on.

Finally, I all too often see, particularly textiles artists, undersell their work. It’s such a shame to see people sell themselves short not charging enough for their time & skill. The nature of what we do is a slow artform, and you should always be charging AT LEAST minimum wage for your time, period. Your skills are valuable, and they should not be given for free.

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

Yes! I’m a huge fan of the creative community that is fostered by Instagram and the online world, promoting the work of other artists is something I love to do so here are just some folks who make incredible art!

My partner is an illustrator @fawnlorn, we share a studio in our flat — and some other artists to check out are; @royalghostmarch, @ohnonatalie, @rbessaaa, @vonnart

Some of my favourite embroiderers are; @marnalunt, @sally_hewett, @moonflesh, @nocturnalstudios, @eira_teufel, @mother_eagle_embroidery

I could go on and on listing countless more!

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Serena García Dalla Venezia

Sarah Benning

 Serena García Dalla Venezia // Fiber Artist // Santiago, Chile


 Serena García Dalla Venezia's work originates from an interest in handcrafts and is carried out in a patient and laborious process. It uses the sum of gestures that are repeated and prolonged through time in order to transform materials as simple as fabric and thread into large sculptural and pictorial objects that are structured in an a way that's organic and flexible.

By wrapping, tying, and intertwining fabrics and thread Serena produces smaller individual pieces that connect and adhere in order to form a larger total which may continue to grow.

Serena is an observer of nature and natural processes. Her work resembles plants, roots and other organic beings that interconnect forming real construction systems in which the total is formed by many small parts.

Her pieces are driven by the personal pleasure that meticulous work gives her, labor that requires time and dedication as well as the challenge that results in seeing what large dimensions can be reached or how much a piece can grow from these small actions and simple materials.

Check out her amazing work on her website or Instagram.

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

The internet has been very important for my professional life, thanks to social networks I have been able to spread my work and get it to be seen by people from all over the world. I think that currently the internet is fundamental for the self-management of artists, we no longer need a gallery or a manager to show our work.

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

My inspiration comes mainly from the observation of nature and what the materials suggest me to do.

I like to see other artists and creators on the internet, but I try to be true to myself and not to be influenced by other people's things to maintain originality.

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

I found this by working hard and believing in my ideas.

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

It has happened to me a few times and it is very disappointing, the work that an artist does is so personal that when someone copies them or does not recognize the value of creativity it hurts. But I am aware that by sharing the images they are made public, and finally I can only trust in my work and continue creating. A good consolation is to think that things are copied when they are good.

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

My advice is to work hard. perseverance is fundamental.

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

There are two Chilean instagram accounts that inspire me a
lot: @laderasur and @chileaereo

and an artist that fascinates me is Hanne Friis.

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Humayrah Bint Altaf

Sarah Benning

Humayrah Bint Altaf  //  Embroidery Artist // England

In her two years at The Royal School of Needlework, Humayrah developed her skills in traditional hand embroidery techniques like Goldwork and Silk Shading and it was here that her love and appreciation for exquisite craftsmanship blossomed. Since graduating, Humayrah proceeded to create an Etsy store (The Olde Sewing Room) displaying age old techniques amalgamated with her growing penchant for Entomology and the natural world.

Check out more of her amazing work on Instagram and Etsy.

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing ones’ own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artist’s lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

The internet can be both powerful and pointless. For me, it is not an essential part of finding inspiration, however the internet is the main medium I utilise to promote my work. The world of Instagram is perfect for marketing your business whilst meeting like minded creatives. I think of all the incredibly skillful makers that I'm blessed to know through Instagram and how they pour their soul into creating.  The plethora of cat pictures on instagram are also exceedingly inspirational!

I do believe that the internet should be used wisely or it can turn into an addiction. As artists, we aim for our work to be accepted and praised through likes and followers. This can inconspicuously turn into a viscous cycle so I like to have digital detox days where I refrain from using social media. I'm yet to understand the modern phenomena of wanting to record and take pictures of everything for the world to see. I love that my art can be known through the internet whilst keeping my personal life unknown and hidden, allowing the audience to focus on my craft. An air of mystery about the artist enhances their art in my opinion. Banksy being an apt example of this. How cool is Banksy?!

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

The influence of the natural creation is something that is woven through a lot of my work. I've always loved discovering beautiful things and enjoy wandering through the woods near my home where I gather leaves, twigs, feathers and other ephemera I can find to bring back home and preserve. I like to incorporate the treasures I find into my embroideries and with each piece I feel that a part of me has been embedded into my work.

I strive to create pieces that speak figuratively and literally of the colours and textures of trees, plants, beetles, bees, roots, twigs and other creatures that frequent my world. Light is an integral element of my craft hence the materials I use reflect this. Soft gold leathers, vintage silks, antique gold cords, iridescent metal wires all call out to me. Photography, good lighting and creating a harmonious visual composition is almost as important to me as the embroidery itself. I believe in storytelling through imagery, the comforting effect cloth, fibre or photograph may have on people.

I am a 'word collector'. Unusual words with wondrous meanings fascinate me. My favourite word is Sonder (n.) The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk. - The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig.

Often, the correlation between embroidery and words is not apparent to anyone but me. I feel there is a spiritual mystery hidden in the folds of language and it's important to hem these extraordinary blessings with thankfulness

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

Like the best things in my life, my creative voice flourished unexpectedly. For years I was struggling to find what I was good at. Then I shifted my focus to what I loved to create and thereafter my own artistic expression was born. As a maker, I still have a long road ahead and am excited to encounter many more bursts of unanticipated inspirations

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

I have encountered copies of my work online. Although they were pretty poor attempts at recreating my embroidery, the artist shamelessly denied copying it and said his boss told him to make them. Upon further investigation (stalking) I noticed he was a poor factory worker in a remote village in India where workers are exploited and work in inhumane conditions for very little pay. I felt sorry for him so let him off.

My approach is quite placid and I am happy if people want  to recreate my designs. Every artist has a unique style and the way I compose my stitches will be different from the way another person creates. It is common courtesy to credit the artist who you are taking inspiration from but this doesn't always happen. I do get tempted to name and shame online just for a laugh but haven't succumbed to my sinister inclinations just yet.

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

Stop procrastinating and over-analysing. Begin what you love to do now and enjoy the process. I regret not opening an etsy shop earlier and it was unnecessary anxiety that was holding me back. If anyone asks you to work for free, be flexible and say no.

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

Banksy, Nigel Slater and Cats of Instagram!

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Maryanne Moodie

Sarah Benning

Maryanne Moodie // Fiber Artist // Melbourne, Australia


Maryanne is a fiber obsessed maker from Australia working between Melbourne and Brooklyn, NY. She divides her time between designing and creating woven wall hangings, developing weaving kits, and teaching sold out workshops across the world. Maryanne is best known for applying unexpected color combinations to her nostalgic designs. She is inspired by the intricacies of vintage textiles, traditional costuming, modern art, and the natural world. Maryanne’s work has been featured in New York Magazine, ELLE Decoration UK, AnthologyO MagazineGraziaInterwoven, and online on Design*Sponge and The Design Files. A finalist in the Martha Stewart American Made Awards in both 2014 and 2015, she sells her work on Etsy and through online shops and boutiques around the country.

Check out more of her amazing work on her websiteInstagram, and Pintrest.

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

The internet has allowed me to connect to my tribe. We no longer have to be 'the only weaver in the village' . We can find and support one another. I can work in a little white box with a huge window somewhere in the world and connect to people like i am in the roo with them. I can get feedback about my work. I can share my highs and lows. I can be working at any time of the day and then others will still see my work when they wake up the next morning. Its a revolution.

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 Photo by Caitlin Mills for The Design Files

Photo by Caitlin Mills for The Design Files

2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

When I am making commissions, my inspiration comes from my client obviously. But when I am weaving for myself I try to use it as an art therapy. Lets say I am feeling jealous or anxious. I sit with an emotion and dawdle ideas on the page in a loose format of looking closely at the things right in front of me. Then I use some of these shapes to create a plan for a jealous weave or an anxious weave. Then I allow my subconscious to work on the feeling whilst my hands are busy. I find a lot of peace working through these tough feelings in a really soft and non judgmental way.

 Photo by Caitlin Mills for The Design Files

Photo by Caitlin Mills for The Design Files

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

For me it is not about finding a voice to speak with my audience -  but rather the voice to have conversations with myself about myself and the world. I believe that I am working on a journey with myself. I turned 40 last year and felt like a I had a big break through feeling really comfortable in my own skin and not so concerned with others views or expectations.

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

The most important part for me is the emotional journey that happens whilst I am making my work. The fact that I get a pretty product is not the objective for me. And so I don't spend a lot of time worrying about people using my designs.

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

Create a community around you and your product. Get it out in the world - give it away. Leave samples in shops and cafes and a bunch of business cards. Ask a local business to host an exhibition of you work. That way you will begin to meet people in your immediate community who are interested in what you do and want to support you. Instagram is not real. The people in your community ARE! Get out there!

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

 I think you just need a laugh sometimes - I listen to 2 Dope Queens and My Dad Wrote a.... I also follow FUCKJERRY on IG. 

 Photo by Eve Wilson for The Design Files

Photo by Eve Wilson for The Design Files

 Photo by Caitlin Mills   for The Design Files.

Photo by Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

All photos provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Meghan Bogden Shimek

Sarah Benning

Meghan Bogden Shimek // Fiber Artist // Oakland, CA


 Meghan Bogden Shimek is a fiber artist living and working in Oakland, California. Meghan is inspired by loss, movement, healing and the acknowledgment of uncomfortable feelings. She uses organic movements to intertwine raw fibers to create abstract and textural wall hangings and sculptural objects.

Meghan has studied several weaving techniques including tapestry weaving, Navajo weaving, rigid heddle, and floor loom weaving. Meghan has been exhibiting her work and teaching weaving workshops for over 5 years across the world.

Check out more of her amazing work on her website or instagram.

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

The internet has been instrumental in helping me to start and grow my business. I use Instagram on a daily basis to connect with other artists, makers and collectors all over the world. I didn't go to art school, and was never taught the traditional ways of showing your work, it is all a work in progress and I am constantly learning.

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

When I first began working with roving I was going through a tremendous amount of loss and the fiber spoke to me, being able to work with something so soft, unstructured and large helped me to move my body and the organic process of my work helped to heal the wounds. At the time I was living in a cottage in the woods and found so much inspiration from nature, I had hiking trails out my door and went walking daily, and a seasonal creek that ran under my house. Over the last two years I have become more and more interested in experimenting with sculpture and experiential art and that has to do with living in a more industrial area and being surrounded by people working with their hands and bodies. Whenever I am stuck, I go for a walk, I have almost always lived near some kind of water and that seems to be a pretty important aspect of my life. I don't think I would be able to successfully do what I do without the internet. I can be a bit of a homebody and social media allows me to show others what I am up to and create a gallery of my work to showcase to potential collectors and curators.

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

The first couple years that I was weaving I was learning. I took as many classes as I could, read books, and tried to learn as many skills and techniques as I could. I would often see other peoples' work and want to make something like it. It took me about two years to truly find my voice and start to make work that fully felt like my own. I found a creative stride, a material I felt at home with, and was creating (at the time) something that I hadn't seen any other artist create. More than anything, I was doing it for me and my heart. It was great that other people liked my work, but I was making it because it made me feel good.

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

Oh yeah! I think we all have to some degree. I have also been on the other side where I have had artists that I love and respect that felt I created work too similar to theirs. I think 99% of the time it doesn't come from a place of malice, it is either a mistake, out of love for another's work, trying to learn a skill, or the fact that we work in fiber. Most of the time when I see people that have made similar work to mine, I try to stop looking at their work, but I don't say anything. I assume they are learning and trying out new techniques and will eventually find their own voice. The only person I have confronted was a person who took screen shots of my photos and told people to contact her for commissions. I also try to keep in mind that we all start somewhere. Someone who I may see as copying my work is probably just trying to learn the technique and may use it to inform their own work. All that being said, it definitely bums me out when I see someone, especially people I have interacted with, make work that feels very similar to mine. I think people sometimes either think that I am doing well enough that it is OK to sell work similar to mine or they forget that I am just one person, trying to make a life for myself and support me and my son.

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

When you are first starting out, say yes to as much as you can! You never know what you will love, hate, or thrive on! And then, learn to say no! Just because you are good at something, or can do something doesn't mean that you have to. Find your own rhythm and listen to what you need. I have learned that part of my creative process is having a lot of quiet and down time, I then counter that with staying up all night working! I have also finally accepted that I am not organized and I will always be slow in getting back to emails. I would love to be better about both those things, but I am currently trying to embrace that part of myself and figure out ways to make it work better for me.

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

Oh yes!

for visual eye candy I love @erinconger, @annaalexia, @erinlovesfun.

fiber friends (there are so many, I know I will forget some) @aleeeese @jacquifink @maryannemoodie @s.neubert @combedthunder @erinmriley @luposkitt @erikbergin @windychien @lisesilva

other artists @peopleiveloved @aleksandrazee @heatherday @merylpataky @martinathornhill

clothing/shoes @aligolden @allbirds @zouxou @kamperett @lacausa @thepalatines

 OK, I'll stop, I could go on forever!

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All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Hello Tangle

Sarah Benning

Hello Tangle // Beading and Embroidery // Melbourne, Australia


Hello Tangle is made up of sisters Bibi and Veronica.  Bibi has a background in Illustration, and Veronica in Finance, but they have both had a passion for all things crafty their whole lives, driven mainly by their Mum who is an expert quilter and knitter.  They have worked in many mediums, but feel they have found their groove with their current obsession – what they call freeform beading and embroidery.  

Check out more of their amazing work at their Etsy shop and Instagram

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

The internet was originally an additional tool for us, but we feel like it has become more and more important.  It has allowed us to source unusual and unique materials for our pieces, it has connected us to other artists/makers, and has given us a platform via Instagram and Etsy to show and sell our work direct to customers.  One of the ways the internet has positively helped us in a less obvious way is learning new techniques. As one of us is a lefthander we need to look a bit outside of the box so where a book hasn’t been helpful the internet has.  

Something we’ve really been inspired by is how huge mediums like embroidery have become online, with some incredible artists with massive followings really putting to bed that old fashioned view of embroidery being something grandmas do. From a young age we practiced knitting and cross stitch, taught to us by our mum and aunty, which was very “uncool” at the time.  But it feels like there has been a change in that perspective, and we love that.

The instagram community for us has been a huge driver in pushing us and stretching ourselves to places we might not have got to without it.  We’ve made some great online friendships with other makers, and receive so much encouragement from so many people. 

Without the internet, it wouldn’t have been possible to get to where we are now.

Also, Netflix.  Hooray for the internet!

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

Inspiration comes to us in many forms but it usually begins with a feeling of shape, colour or texture. In particular we like to collage with paper scraps, paint, stitching and beads to get some inspo flowing. 

We sometimes find ourselves in a bit of a colour rut, using the same colours over and over, and lately we’ve actually been going back through pictures of our old work to rediscover colours or techniques we have used in the past, and we combine that with whatever we’ve been currently working on to try to create something fresh.  Using ourselves as inspiration…. Sounds a bit strange!!  We also love getting all our beads and sequins out and just looking at them all, trying different colours, sizes and shapes together, trying to find combinations we haven’t used before.  Simple but effective!

It can be a challenge to keep being creative, and social media - in particular Instagram - can enforce a kind of pressure to keep posting new work, improving and growing.  This can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, but it also keeps pushing us.

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3. How have you, as artists, found your creative voice?

I think being able to bounce ideas off each other and backing each other has allowed us to not feel self-conscious about our work.  We’re self taught and are quite unconventional in our processes so it could be easy for us to feel like we’re outsiders when it comes to embroidery but this is also what makes us unique.  We always say that there’s no wrong way, it’s our way and we stick to that.

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have either of you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

This is such a huge and sensitive topic, we could talk about it for hours! It’s heartbreaking for artists to have their work copied, and it’s sad that the person doing the copying can ever justify it.

We’ve previously encountered an almost exact copy of one of our earliest pieces.  We were actually surprised by how much it affected us, we felt so hurt and violated.  One of the things that struck us was that out of all the people in the world, it was someone we actually knew personally.  

It has caused us to be mindful of how much we share of our processes and materials.  We really encourage people to find their own style and although that can take time and practice the results are always satisfying when you know the piece is uniquely you.

That early encounter of copying, as awful as it was, actually ended up pushing us to change direction a bit, which is sad in a way, but we stretched ourselves and our creativity and found an outlet in a medium we absolutely love, and feel like we’ve really found our groove.  

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

Take your time, practice and experiment within your medium, you’ll find your own style and it will keep evolving as you grow.

Take regular breaks from the internet.  It can be overwhelming looking at so many others artists work, it can be good to switch off from all of that and go back to what is inside you.

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

 art that we love:

@kelaoke

@kindahkhalidy

@meaganalessio

@mandismoothhills

@kellryan

@rachelcastleandthings

our fave clothing and colour inspo:

@gormanclothing

@dinosaur_designs

for great pics, hilarity and some serious stuff too:

@jengotch

for many many laughs:

@busyphilipps

@sarafoster

@erinfoster

and for general beautifulness:

@bohemegoods

@sfgirlbybay

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All Image provided by the artists

Craft With Conscience: Nicole O'Loughlin

Sarah Benning

Nicole O'Loughlin // Multi-Disciplinary Artist // Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


Nicole O'Loughlin is a mutli-disciplinary artist, self taught in embroidery.  She is a printmaker by trade but turned to embroidery as an easy 'pick up and put down' art form after the birth of her son.  Nicole's embroidery work combines pop culture with religious iconography and kitsch embellishment to create witty works that address the role of worship and gender roles in society.

Check out more of her amazing work at  www.nicoleoloughlin.com, or her Instagram

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

The role of the internet in my practice mainly focuses around Instagram and my website. I have found a huge support for my work through Instagram and knowing that there are people all over the world seeing my work is rather refreshing, as I live on a small island at the bottom of Australia with a small population.  Being able to connect with others online has also been important for me as a new mother, both being an artist and mother can be isolating roles so being able to get my work out there from the comfort of my home has been fantastic. Through my Instagram account I have encountered opportunities that I may have not had access to other wise and in general I find the community to be incredibly supportive and giving.  I find motivation in sharing my works in progress as the work takes so long when I receive positive comments it encourages me to keep stitching.

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

The initial inspiration from my work really comes from song lyrics (I get songs stuck in my head very easily).  I then will develop the idea through sketching out ideas, then using the internet to source reference photos. My works collage different images together to articulate the initial idea I have. I am aware in this current body of work I am re-hashing other peoples photos of celebrities and art work, therefore I make sure that there is my spin on it.  I also find a lot of inspiration in art books, movies and visiting art galleries and opportunity shops or simply by taking a walk.

I think that the internet has made it easier in terms of research and sourcing imagery.  However, sometimes it is too easy and my imaginative drawing has probably suffered from all the accessibility to imagery. I think that being connected with other creatives online has expanded my ideas and I find such inspiration in other people making beyond what I am able to access here in Australia.  The beauty of the internet is that you can see someone over the other side of the world and what they are making that you may not have otherwise seen.

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

I think I am still finding my voice and it shifts and changes all the time.  I love the phrase 'visual vocabulary' and you can see there are particular artists that they have a very specific visual language that they use. As I am self taught and embroidery is a new medium for me I am still developing my own creative voice, I have a style but I am already envisioning where I want to explore next.  I think development for me in my overall practice comes from journal keeping, be it written or drawn notes and making, so much making. Being an artist is like being a child and playing with materials and from those experiments you discover new things. I also think by focusing on what you have to say helps to sharpen your style and ideas, someone else may make draw, paint, or stitch something a particular way and I may admire it but it is something personal to them and not something I could (or want to) present in the same way.

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

Pinterest and Instagram are visual rabbit holes, and yes the original artist can quite often get lost with re-posting and pinning.  I think it is a shame when the original artist doesn't get acknowledged as a lot of the time such thought, skill and effort (and student debt) has gone into a work.  But this is the digital age and a problem that we face as artists. I haven't seen any direct copies of my work, but I have had people make comments on some of my Instagram accounts tagging their friends saying they would re-make the item for them. I try to be as diplomatic as possible and explain that this is my career, and I wouldn't come an take their pay packet for a month. It's hard to say how much this gets through.  And it is so prevalent. I work in an art shop and we quite often have people come in with Instagram pics wanting to make another artists work, but this sounds horrible most of them fail even if they try because they are trying to learn how to make something in 5 minutes and as I said above don't have that artists voice so it doesn't work out the same. What make me more upset is when big companies do it to artists, designers know better and they shouldn't be allowed to get away with stealing artists ideas.

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

Draw, take notes and play with materials. Be inspired by others but try to develop your own unique voice as no-one can see or represent the world like you can.  It is an up and down journey, it has its peaks but also its down times, but stick at it if you can. If you are limited with time just set yourself small pockets of time everyday even if it is 10 minutes to make something, once you start then it will lead to other things and I think that from making comes more inspiration and ideas.  Oh and also, document your work...you don't know when you may need a picture of something you made years ago.

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

I love to listen to The Jealous Curator podcasts whilst I stitch.  Such thoughtful conversations about being an artist.

The Instagram accounts of thefiberstudio, embroidery

Avant Arte for contemporary artworks and artists

I adore the work of Guimtio for the perfection in simplicity

Teresa Barboazo just keeps pushing fiber art and embroidery in interesting and diverse ways, a true master.

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All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Jen Hewett

Sarah Benning

Jen Hewett // Print maker and Designer // San Francisco, CA


Jen Hewett is a printmaker, surface designer, textile artist and teacher. A lifelong Californian, Jen combines her love of loud prints and saturated colors with the textures and light of the California landscapes to create highly-tactile, visually-layered, printed textiles.

She is the author of Print, Pattern Sew: Block-Printing Basics + Simple Sewing Projects, and has recently collaborated with Cotton + Steel on a line of fabric.

Check out more of her amazing work on her website or on Instagram.

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Photo credit: Jen Siska

1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

I had a stationery company in the early 2000s, so this is my second time running a creative business, and the internet has changed everything. In 2000, websites were expensive to create, social media didn’t exist, and the incubation period for trends was much longer. I really felt like I was alone back in those days; I didn’t a large creative community.

Social media and Etsy were huge game changers. The early social media sites and blogs often fostered a sense of community. I found other artists and makers on Flickr, read and commented on their blogs, went to their gallery shows, and met up with them at craft fairs. Many of the artist friends I have now are from those early days of social media. And then Etsy came along, making it possible for us to sell our work online without having to create fancy websites with shopping carts. 

These days Instagram is the second biggest driver of traffic to my website and shop (my newsletter is my first), and is often the place where conversations take place. I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. One the one hand, it is great for business, and I continue to find many other artists through it. On the other hand, many of our photos have essentially replaced print advertisements in magazines. We work hard to take the perfect photo that conveys exactly the message we want to get across, and write good copy that is engaging but not too wordy. A large company with deep resources is usually behind a print ad; a lot of us, even those of us who have significant followings, are often solo entrepreneurs. Styling and taking great photos is a lot of work, as is constantly monitoring comments and responding to questions. I suppose it’s all still marketing. It just feels as if the pace has changed and the demands have increased. I’m not nostalgic for my early, pre-social media artist days. I’m just trying to find a balance between the demands of having an art practice with the demands of social media in marketing that art.

 Photo credit:  Jen Siska

Photo credit: Jen Siska

2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

I have lived in California most of my life, and the landscapes and flora that surround me play pretty heavily in my work. The weather in San Francisco (where I live) and Los Angeles (where I grew up) is very mild, so I’ve spent a lot of time outdoors. Also, there’s a quality of light and color that is just so different here than any other place I’ve visited (for example, I can often tell if a painter is from Los Angeles, or created specific work in LA, based on her color palette). 

I do use the internet a lot for research, though I try to go to the original sources. Pinterest can be a good starting point sometimes, but scrolling through all those images without any context is exhausting! I’ve found so many new-to-me artists online, and often fall into deep rabbit holes going through their bodies of work, or learning about different movements (I was an English major in college, so I’m still getting caught up on my art history). Inspiration is part of an ecosystem, and the internet is only a small part of it. I think it’s important surround myself with things I like, to go offline and read books, go to museums and galleries, pay attention to my surroundings, go for long walks every day.

I am active on social media, and try to post something every weekday. That can be tough because much of my printed work takes a long time to create, and I don’t want to overwhelm people with boring process shots, especially since a lot of printmaking is pretty technical, and an individual shot wouldn’t make sense without a lot of context. On top of that, I’m doing more client work than ever before, and I can’t share those projects until they’re released. I do feel pressure to post daily to keep my followers engaged, but I don’t want to create work just to feed the social media machine. And I’m a fairly private person, so I’m not interested in posting too much detail about my personal life. I haven’t yet found the right balance.

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

Anyone who follows me online or reads my newsletter knows that I have opinions! Even though my tastes are constantly evolving, I know what I like and don’t like at any given moment. Through a lot of looking and making, I’ve developed a critical eye, which means looking critically at everything. I think this comes both from being an artist and a woman of color who is often an anomaly in a lot of situations: I am constantly aware of my own reactions to objects, to my surroundings and to other people, and of those other people’s reactions to me. I break down what I see, think and feel in all aspects of my life.

On a more practical level, this internal critical discourse would mean nothing if I didn’t actually make the work – and a lot of it. There is a point when I’m drawing or printing when intrusive thoughts stop, and my hands take over. I call this “thinking with my hands.” I will make something over and over again, becoming so focused on the work that is in front of me, almost unconsciously experimenting with small changes until I have something I like. 

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

I’m fortunate that I haven’t had any major knockoffs of my work – yet. I just discovered that there is someone who is selling blatant, but badly-executed, copies of some of my repeat patterns on Shutterstock, so I’ll try to work with Shutterstock and the “artist” first to get those images removed. 

It’s just a matter of time, though, and I’ve been mentally preparing myself for it.

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

Being an artist means playing a long game, and understanding that you will be doing this work for a very long time. Overnight success doesn’t exist for most of us, and artists who appear to be sudden successes have likely been working in obscurity for quite a while. Also, this work isn’t financially rewarding right away, so keep your day job as long as you can, and make art when you’re not working your day job. I worked as an HR consultant for five years while I tried to get my art career off the ground. During that time, I was able to develop a voice and a body of work without worrying about whether or not that work would pay the bills. You have to love your chosen career enough to make sacrifices for it, which will sometimes mean being broke, having to work a day job you don’t love in order to pay the bills, and take on the boring administrative work that goes along with being an independent artist.

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

I love to sew my own clothes, so most of the blogs I still read these days are sewing blogs. I turn to Grainline Studio, Colette Patterns and its sister site Seamwork Magazine for sewing inspiration as well as technical tips. I adore Jasika Nicole’s blog. Not only is she an expert sewer, she weaves social commentary into much of her writing about her work.

I still read Design*Sponge regularly because it continues to evolve. Grace has done an amazing job of amplifying diverse voices in the art and design worlds, and has managed to stay relevant as the blog world changes.

I’m also obsessed with Mimi Thorisson’s blog and Instagram (@mimithor). I’m sure that her online image is hyper edited to make everything look just so lovely, but sometimes I need that kind of escapist loveliness (and Mimi’s delicious recipes) in my life.

I interact the most with my friends’ Instagram accounts:

@sonyaphilip (and her dog @willietheterrier)

@travelingmilestudio

@andreapippins

@windychien

@lisacongdon

@disfordilettante

And some artists I’ve recently started following whose work I really like are:

@muzae

@jessicasorentang

@wiley_pamela

@iamadampogue

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All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Sammy Dudley of Pink Pal

Sarah Benning

Sammy Dudley of Pink Pal // Embroidery Artist // London, England


Sammy Dudley is an embroidery artist based in Camberwell, London. After recently graduating from Kingston School of Art, she has continued her practice from her bedroom studio, surrounded by plants and thread. Her current series of pink themed embroideries draws inspiration from selfie culture, and explores the male gaze within art history by re-appropriating famous paintings and sculptures. She has recently shown a number of these pieces at an exhibition organised by Hewing Wittare, whilst also running embroidery workshops. 

Check out more of Pink Pal's amazing work on Etsy or Instagram

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

I created an Instagram during my undergraduate as it seemed the most important platform for the artists I was researching. Creating an instagram account really changed the way I perceived myself as an artist as it made me take my practice a lot more seriously. Social media on the whole gets a really bad rep for how it leads to false performances of self, but for me it allowed for a space whereby I could present a new version of myself; at that time I was using it more as a visual diary (now I use it more as a platform to share my work). I’ve always been a shygirl and often felt intimidated and anxious in gallery and studio spaces, so the internet always felt like a refuse where I could present myself in a stronger way.

My feed has become the place where I consume most of the visual art that influences me. It provided me a space to find an audience but, more importantly for me, it provided me with a feed of like-minded contemporary artists. I have found so many interesting embroidery artists and am always finding more ~ recently a game went round on instastories wherein you could dm a heart to a story and then that blog would post their favourite picture from your page. It’s probably the most people I’ve ever met in one night! There’s definitely a distinct and new visual language being built by these artists that is distinctly feminist and body positive. The internet is such an important public space and we need to be active in creating visual languages of representation that reflect our real life experiences. I want my art to be taken seriously as part of this visual culture, and I hope the activism and critiques of contemporary culture that I find in other embroidery artists can be reflected in my own work.

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

I was initially inspired to create work that focuses on selfies because of the general negativity that selfie culture gets. Even in counter-culture, the overall opinion of selfies are that they’re vapid and of little worth. Instead, what I found online was people using selfies in a positive, liberating way: using it as a way to take control of their own subjectivity and representation, and as an interesting type of contemporary self portrait. I developed this feeling into my recent work, which explore the male gaze within art history by re-appropriating famous
paintings and sculptures ~ inserting smartphones into the hands of the women. Even through this small subversion, I feel much more comfortable with these famous pieces and feel that the women depicted gain some of their agency back through their self representation.

My process is pretty all over the place, but I’m becoming more confident in my aesthetic urges. I’m a pretty stubborn person and sometimes my inspirations come from rejecting ideas that I don’t agree with. Recently I had a mini-epiphany about my use of red/pink. All colours carry connotations of what they stand for and represent. I’d always thought of red as a powerful colour ~ one that represents blood, war, and power ~while pink was always a pretty colour that represented vanity, beauty, and passiveness (‘girliness’). I had thought that red and pink clashed, that they are garish when combined, but I’ve been attracted to this colour combo recent, and I think I now know why ~ Pink + Red = Powerful Women. ❣️  ️

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

I think I was extremely lucky when I made the first ‘three graces <3 selfies’ piece. Once I started taking classical paintings and transforming them into pink selfie-taking nudes, I couldn’t stop. I felt very content using embroidery, especially because of its ‘heritage in women’s hands’. I’ve always wanted to have an aspect of feminism in my work and by embroidering I feel that my process itself taps into a shared women’s cultural production. I’ve also always wanted a little bit of confrontation in my production as well: when I first started using cross-stitch I would write slogans like ‘fuck patriarchy’ under the pieces. I’ve tried to develop this so it fits more organically and felt excited when I started appropriating pieces from art history ~ to me it felt like my very own fun little transgression. There’s a lot of me in every work ~ and not just in the time it takes to make each one! When finished, the girls reflect a lonesome, self-involved contentedness that reflects how I’ve been feeling of late, and I love sharing my space with them. 

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

I think a lot of interesting work lies somewhere between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement’ ~ my work does for sure. Images can easily be stolen and re-contextualised but, for me, it needs to be done in a positive way that doesn’t harm artists (especially independent ones) ~ I work really hard not to be Richard Prince.

If you share images online you lose some of its ownership. I’ve been submitting to curated blogs for a while and feel that it’s a really good way to promote my work. Once a blog reposted my work without contacting me first ~ I hadn’t submitted to them and didn’t really agree with the content of their page (though they did credit me). It put me in a kinda odd situation whereby I was really happy that new people were finding my work, but wasn’t quite as happy about the route they were finding it. It definitely showed me how easily my work can be manipulated for other people’s self-promotion. 

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

I’d say that the best piece of advice I can give is to put all of yourself into your art ~ people saw my passion and dedication and have responded so positively. Experiment with everything ~ not just medium and content but the place where you present your work and yourself, and find the one that makes you feel most comfortable. For me instagram has been a fantastic tool to promote and share my work. The internet is the biggest tool we have to communicate with others so don’t be scared to contact people directly ~ every artist appreciates support! 

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

I have so many!

Becky Hancock is my embroidery bestie ~ we run embroidery workshops together as Pink Hancock and both her and Ella Thomas provide my online emotional support. I collab with the wonderful gals, Poppy and jaz ~ the beauties behind @alivewithpleasureshop.

I love love love Hannah Hill’s badass contemporary feminist embroideries; Amandine Bouet’s beadwork gives me life daily; Emma Allegretti and Laura Callaghan are two of my fave illustrators; and shouts to the body-pos and sex-pos of Maja Malou Lyse  and Zoe Ligon

Finally, my love for Solange and her perfect style knows no bounds.

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Craft With Conscience: Dee Monti of MONTI

Sarah Benning

Dee Monti // Designer // London, UK


Dee Monti is the founder and designer of the geometric glassware brand MONTI which she launched in 2015. She is a self-taught glass artist who designs and makes all pieces by hand in her London home studio using glass, copper and solder. Dee has been featured in various publications and often works with private clients to create bespoke pieces. Her current collection is a selection of geometric multi-functional shapes which bring simple geometric design and nature together with the encouragement to be creative with your choice of shapes and how you adapt them to your personal surroundings. 

Check out more of her amazing work at  www.montibymonti.com, her Instagram or facebook

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

The internet has opened up a lot of opportunities for me. It has been undeniably essential in setting up my business. I taught myself everything I could about glass design before launching MONTI through watching YouTube videos and online tutorials so it has been important to the growth of my business since the beginning. The internet has enabled me to reach out to a wider audience and connect with people I would not have otherwise met in real life. It’s really encouraging to share ideas and receive feedback. Having said that, I don’t like to fully rely on the internet. There’s something unsettling about always turning to the internet for inspiration and answers so I like to go ‘offline’ every now and then. It feels good to process my own ideas and work my brain cells without any distractions.

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2 .Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process? 

I wouldn’t say my inspiration comes from one particular source, I often find ideas and inspiration comes from everyday life and when I am away from my studio. I use Pinterest a lot when researching new ideas for bespoke pieces or collections for clients and as a general source of visual inspiration. The internet is currently my only consistent marketing tool. Instagram has opened up a lot of new business, new clients, collaborations with other designers and has driven direct traffic to my website. It has also enabled me to build new relationships both online and IRL. Through Instagram I have been able to curate a visual story behind MONTI, sharing new content, designs, behind the scenes and processes. It has been a great form of personal documentation which helps me to visualise the progress of my work a lot better.

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

I think it can be hard to find your own voice as a creative. It can take a while to find a medium which represents your own style that is consistent and reflects who you are as a person and as a designer/artist. I think I’m still trying to find my voice! I have only been working with glass for just over 2 years now but It has enabled me to create a collection of work and build a brand which reflects my current creative voice and style. I often think about incorporating new materials and somehow merging them into a bigger creative practice as I still believe there is so much more to explore.

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

Unfortunately, I have encountered a lot of copies of my work. I haven’t actively looked for copies, I have mostly been sent images by other designers via Instagram which is nice to know we’ve all got each other’s backs! I have had direct copies of my entire collection, product photos, branding and even the product names. When I launched MONTI, there was a niche for glass design, geometric glass ware was just starting to re-emerge. I spent a lot of time researching current glass designs and trends so not to infringe upon anyone else’s work. I designed a collection that reflected my own style that was completely different, so when people would see one of my pieces they would say ‘oh that’s a MONTI! I do often hold back on sharing design ideas or processes which is a shame because we should be able to feel comfortable in sharing ideas with each other but I do often keep a lot of work to myself in fear of oversharing. I want to inspire and be inspired by other creative people but there’s a huge difference between taking inspiration and just making direct copies through lack of their own creativity. But don’t let it get you down! It’s almost a compliment, your work must be good if people are copying it!

I did reach out to a few people via email with an open mind, some responded with understanding and some with slight ignorance and sass which is always disappointing.  I now don’t spend much time thinking or worrying about it and instead put that energy into my own work. More often than not if you have built a strong following and have a consistent style and branding, people will recognise your products or artwork and they will always follow you.

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

Research! Don’t just dive into something without knowing anything about the medium you are working with or the market audience. 

Spend time to get to know your creative abilities and find your own style, be as much as yourself as you can be. Be honest with yourself about your capabilities, what you are good at, what are not good at and what can you see yourself doing in the long term. Finding your own voice is important, you will find yourself stuck if you are copying the style of another artist or designer as it wont’ come naturally to you. 

Be open to new opportunities and collaborations, I have found it really important to work with other brands and designers. It’s good to build relationships with other like minded that could lead to IRL friendships! It’s essential to surround yourself with people that inspire and support you. It’s a tough life for self employed creatives so support is important!

6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

@Watts.on @watts.place @camillewalala @lauraberger @atelierbingo @gurlstalk @decorhardcore  @designmilk

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Alexandra Knie

Sarah Benning

Alexandra Knie // multidisciplinary Artist // Valencia, Spain


Alexandra Knie is a German multidisciplinary artist and university lecturer with a degree in
Fine Arts, currently living and working in Valencia (Spain) where she most recently has
been awarded an Artistic Research Fellowship from the Consorci de Museus de la
Comunitat Valenciana. Her special interest is the artistic investigation of the intersection of
art and science.

She focuses on the transfer of microscopic and macroscopic visualized images into hand
or machine embroidery, which links two complementary areas: modern science and a
historical textile technique.

In addition to some important solo exhibitions, Alexandra Knie has participated in several group
exhibitions in Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the USA, among others.

Check out more of her amazing work on her website or Instagram

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote
the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative
inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing
fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays
in your artistic and professional life?

Mainly I use the internet to look for suitable calls for exhibitions worldwide. This takes
much time, because I try to promote my artwork through displaying in interesting places.
Not every call for art is serious. You have to read carefully all terms and conditions and to
check out the institutions’ review. And of course, you have to be aware that not every
application will be accepted in the end. Social media like Instagram is a new chapter for
me right now. I see it as an interesting platform to establish contact with creative makers
and artists and I am positively surprised by the sometimes unexpected feedback.

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social
media impacted your design process?

Besides drawing, silkscreening and painting, I use hand and machine embroidery as an
emphasizing stylistic device in my artwork. In the long history of embroidery, it was always
used as a form of decoration and narration to valorize religious or profane clothes and
home textiles. I try to use this potential of collective memory to subvert the outwardly
visible aesthetic surface of embroidery by illustrating dangerous viruses that are not visible
to the naked eye. Therefore, I use scientific microscopic illustrations and background
information offered by the internet or other media to create a metaphoric image of
embroidery put into multiple layers beyond an empirical logic. So I understand the internet
as one of the main instruments for my artistic research, besides books, exhibitions and
daily life.

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Study of Zika virus_ Alexandra Knie 2017.jpg

3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

Before I started with my scientifically influenced art, I did a wide range of figurative and
abstract paintings. It was a challenging process to find out my artistic intention and to be
satisfied with my work. Just at the age of five I knew that I wanted to become an artist.
Besides drawing nearly every day, I was doing also silkscreening with the help of my
father, and I loved it. Twenty years and a diploma in Fine Arts later, I was teaching
silkscreening at the University of Applied Science in Aachen at the department of design.
At that time, I noticed that the cooperation with the students positively influenced my
artistic process to change my point of view and to find a new topic to work with. Finally, I
started to investigate in the field of microcosm because of an interesting phrase a friend
once told me when she was writing her doctoral thesis in medicine. She explained that she
had to “design a virus“ to find out its effect against a special type of cancer. This sounded
like science fiction and grabbed me until today. I consequently became a designer of “art
viruses“.

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work.
They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks
the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your
work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

Up until now I have not found direct copies of my art. I think you have to be aware that a person
at the other end of the world or even your neighbour could have ideas similar to yours
but with different focuses and personal background. Someone who deals with copies is
annoying, but I think it will also be of short duration because in my opinion, ideas adopted
from others cannot be developed further with the same creativity and quality as by its
original creator.

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

To reflect critically someone’s art process and development in order to avoid exogenous
influence by unprofessional or non constructive advice. Trust and make it clear to yourself
that you are the only expert in doing your art or running your creative business in order to not lose sight of what you want to transmit or reach with your work.

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

There are a lot of famous artists I admire and I can learn from, like Nancy Graves, Anni
Albers, Sheila Hicks, Agnes Martin, Noa Eshkol and Ernesto Neto, to point out some of my
favourite ones. But I also follow the creative and inspiring people on Instagram as your
account, Sarah and let me point out others:

@soniceto.art

@gisoo2024

@anonimabycm

@carolinecorbasson

@amandainebouet

@danielbergshneider

@tmbrozynar

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Alexandra Knie Study 1_ study of virus entities_2017.jpg
Detail Study 1_ Alexandra Knie.jpg

Craft With Conscience: Trini Guzmán

Sarah Benning

 

Trini Guzmán // Fiber Artist // Santiago Chile


 Trini is a multidisciplinary artist from Chile. From large scale murals to embroidery, her work is a continuous exploration that seeks to push the limits of her own possibilities and interests, using bold colors and intricate textures. Over the last years she has been focusing on fiber art, something that has always called her attention and that she now shares through her project Cosío, Bordao, Tejío (that means sewn, embroidered and knitted in Chilean). She also shares her personal experience about creativity through  teaching embroidery classes and in her book The Embroidery Revolution.

Check out more of her amazing work on her website, her Instagram, or @casiobordaotejio.

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

 For me it's a wonderful way to share my creative process, to look at my artwork from a different perspective and to give my pieces a parallel life, since they not only live between the walls of my studio, but also start having a digital life, where they travel and connect with people and opportunities, multiplying their possibilities. The visibility the internet gives is amazing, and I love how it can bring people, art and projects closer when used in a positive way. It also has given me the opportunity to work from home, to promote my classes and to dedicate full time to one of the things I love the most, that is embroidery. I also enjoy the possibility of following artists I admire, and watch the process they share and to see how we all share similar things with art, whether it's bliss or difficulties.

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

 I enjoy improvising, not having everything figured out is an absolute part of my design process and nature has always been a starting point for me when looking for inspiration. Also traveling, since it has given me the opportunity to experience different cultures, landscapes and even color palettes that shake me out of what I am used to on a daily basis, that is truly inspiring. The internet also gets me closer to those different places and people, offering a wide range of inspiration and where I also learn continuously from others. It can also be a huge distraction that I try to avoid in order to optimize my focus, even though that is not easy at all because I get distracted doing several things at the same time.

I must say that the impact of the internet and social media has been positive and I'm really grateful for the ways it has boosted the scope of my work.

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

Learning to recognize my fears, frustrations and insecurities has been key.  Realizing them has helped me, not to get rid of them, but to be aware of my own limitations in order to take action and not to get paralysed by them. This has made me feel more empowered, even though it's from one of my most vulnerable places. I think our creative voice is in constant change and evolution, and its not only built from our bright sides but also from our shadows.

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

I have stumbled upon situations like this, and at first it was really shocking to see there was not even a mention of the origin of the image, and I felt my work and authorship was being completely disrespected. Then I realized there is absolutely no control over the destiny the image of our artworks may have: they can reach marvellous opportunities and they also risk to be disrespected and copied. I love sharing what I do and what I know, and I prefer to be trusting than fearful that I might get copied and not share anything at all. I think social media also has the power to create awareness that behind an image there is a person working hard that deserves respect. I focus my energy on creativity and the people that genuinely celebrate it.

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

I remember a moment when I was younger, after completing art school, working in many diverse activities, like selling cupcakes I made or working at some random store to earn money, while simultaneously trying to develop my artwork in my spare time. I asked myself constantly how to really dedicate to arts and live from it, fearing that it was so hard and impossible and something only a few could enjoy.

I realized then that I have studied arts to work full time at it, not at something else. Creativity was my passion and I saw very clearly that that was the road I wanted to build for myself. So I decided to drop all the other random activities that I was doing to dedicate full time to arts, and I declared to myself that I would fully try that year. If it didn't work, if I got disappointed, only then I would let myself work in whatever any other random thing, but first I had to try putting all my energy and focus on arts, putting fear aside. Its been 7 years since that conversation with myself, and since then I have worked and lived doing different projects I love, all related to arts and creativity. It hasn't been easy all the time, but I have enjoyed it! So my advice would be before giving up on what you love and what you dream, give it a full year, putting all your focus and energy on that, and only then decide whether it is you want to keep trying or abandon at all. It's a road built on perseverance and on self discovery. It will put you to test plenty of times, constantly asking if you are truly willing to insist. So its important to align the heart, thoughts and guts of ourselves and insist!

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

Oh there are so many artists I follow now that I admire in the most diverse areas. Plenty of them have been featured in the Craft with Conscience series, Also I can think of the following:

@roeqie

@laluisarivera

@missannavaldez

@thejealouscurator

@elenastonaker

@liza_smirnova

@lucykirk

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Craft With Conscience: Lauren Singleton of Yes Stitch Yes

Sarah Benning

Lauren Singleton of Yes Stitch Yes // Embroidery artist // Brooklyn, ny


Lauren Singleton is an embroidery artist living and stitching in Brooklyn, New York.  Lauren’s venture into embroidery initially started as an act of self-care with one solid rule “don’t make anything you wouldn’t hang in your own home” and turned into the business Yes Stitch Yes. Lauren currently focuses on floral work and whatever phrase is running through her mind.

Check out more of her amazing work on her Instagram and Etsy Shop

 Photo Credit: Caitlin Reilly

Photo Credit: Caitlin Reilly

 Photo Credit: Caitlin Reilly

Photo Credit: Caitlin Reilly

1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing ones’ own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artist’s lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

I’m a child of dial up AOL and I’ve always loved the internet.  I remember coming across the work of Alaina Varrone and Jenny Hart on Tumblr in 2008 and being completely blown away. Although my mother taught me how to cross stitch at a young age, I don’t think I would have started embroidery without seeing how other people were able to reinterpret the medium. I wouldn’t have been exposed to the changing look of embroidery without the internet.

The internet, specifically social media apps like Instagram, have helped me gain new customers and helped expose my work to different people which lead me to new opportunities.  Being visible has also helped me find my footing as an artist. I don’t come from a traditional art background and in the beginning,I always felt like an imposter saying “I am an artist” but the ability to see other artists working in all mediums gave me the ballsy courage to go ahead and call myself an artist and take ownership over what I am doing.

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

A lot of my work is florals so I tend to look at florist Instagram accounts, vintage botanical books, and pictures of flowers. For color inspiration, I look at everything: retro interior design blogs, abstract art, fashion. This is cliché but true I find inspiration in everyday life. I take a lot of photos of color combos I wouldn’t have considered before. Yellow tile in a subway station that someone scrawled "homer" over in a neon pink? Okay that could be interesting. Newly painted mint green bike line with orange construction cone? That might make a cool piece.

I started stitching because I felt like all I did online was consume other people’s content but never create anything myself. I’m wary of falling back into those same patterns of nonstop consumption. So, while the internet rules I try to step back and continue to ask myself “what is the true goal here/ what am I trying to do with this piece”.  Embroidery can be self-isolating and social media is great because it can give me validation for doing the work but the problem becomes how much of my self-worth or the worth I place on the work is wrapped up in how someone else feels about it? It takes time and energy to make things, is that time and energy wasted because the post didn’t get the “appropriate” number of likes? I wish I could say “I’m an independent woman I don’t need your validation” but I’m still working on that. I will say that after I stopped worrying SO MUCH about how the work would be received and just got back to my roots of making whatever moved me, my feelings toward my embroidery practice and business changed for the better.

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3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

I don’t know if I’ve totally found it yet. I still have dream projects and ideas I want to explore. I have a bigger vision that I want to express with embroidery that I haven’t achieved yet.  When I first started Yes Stitch Yes I wanted to make pretty things that said ugly things because I was having a rough go and wanted to dress up the hurt. As the *gestures around* world gets uglier and my time on the internet shows me more and more of the expansive depth of human suffering I still want to make pretty things but now I want to make things that are more honest. At least honest to me. My goal is as I do more work on myself, the more I can be honest with the work I present to the world.

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4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

My work being blatantly copied is a relatively new thing for me. When it first happened I was really angry! I felt like “everything isn’t a DIY project; how DARE they copy something I made!!!” A common response is “imitation is sincerest form of flattery” but we all know that’s bullshit right? The sincerest form of flattery is paying me for my work.  Another response is “community over competition” which is sometimes being used as a blanket statement in response to call outs about imitation. That’s also bullshit because that’s not true community. Embroidery Instagram (as I tend to call it) has brought some amazing people into my life, people who have given me advice, cheered on my successes, and helped me deal with failures.  THAT is true community.

Recently I’ve circled around to this: very few people walk into embroidery with a fully formed vision of the new thing they want to create. They are going to find “inspiration” from other artists.  I hope that they take the time to build a look and a style and discover what they want to do. I don’t want to sound soft of imitation, I’m not, I just can’t put the same energy into being enraged at someone trying to build a business off my back that I used to. I used to call people out. I used to reply to comments of people planning craft nights based on my work asking them not to. I used to expend a lot of energy dealing with that and now I don’t. I just block them and move on. I can’t control what happens to my work after I post it, but I can control my experience on the internet to see less things that send me into a rage.

I will say, every time I’ve been copied it’s forced me to zag on ‘em and move into something different.

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

Trust your own weird vision!  It’s so easy and frankly lucrative to think “I see this is popular I want to make it” instead of thinking “this is something I would like to see in the world so I’m going to make it”.  Say “no” loudly and often. Don’t do anything for exposure. If you’re making something and hating it the entire time you should probably raise your prices. Find good support and make sure they’re truly on your team.  

Instagram (a big company) is owned by Facebook (a v big company) and they don’t give a damn how you feel about the algorithm.

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

Brown Paper Bag Blog

@adamJK

@kliuwong

@dai.ruiz

@Metafloranyc

@flowersandweeds

@embroidery

@crayolamode

@linacaro

@asraigarden

@annstreetstudio

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Craft With Conscience: Pauline Hagan of Benu made

Sarah Benning

 

Pauline Hagan of Benu Made // Jewellery Designer // Prague, Czech Republic


Benu Made is a jewellery brand combining bold shapes and beautiful leather textures. All jewellery pieces are drawn, designed and skilfully created by Pauline Hagan in her studio in Prague, in the Czech Republic. She's self-taught, and her vision is to create bold, eye-catching conversation pieces that bring personality and twist to the simplest of outfits.

Check out more of Pauline's amazing work on Instagram and Facebook.

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

The internet has been very instrumental for me. I grew up watching my mum cross-stitch and doing her best to sell her creations at markets on Saturday mornings, which would be her only outlet or sales channel. When I think about how much has changed, I question whether I would have been able to get to where I am now without the internet. Social media gives us designers and artists power - to talk about our work, to build a brand, to share ideas, to communicate with and sell directly to our customers. It enables us to be fully independent, brings us really close to our audience and encourages dialogue and community. Everyday, women from around the world tag me in photos of them wearing my jewellery, and as a designer there isn't anything more rewarding than that. However, competition is so strong and the market so saturated that it takes a really special story and product to stand out, and that's a constant challenge - though admittedly, one I enjoy!

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

I find inspiration everywhere, by being outside, observing the shapes and details of buildings (there's an abundance of inspiration here in Prague), travelling, being in nature or during conversations with friends who’ll say 'I'd love to see this on a pair of earrings' - which might spark an idea. I also use Pinterest and follow Fashion Week shows to ensure I'm not too far off the mark and still feeding into current trends.

I usually design a new collection once a year, so over the course of the remaining 11 months, I gather ideas, cut outs, Pins, and notebooks full of sketches - without developing them into final products. When I revisit the ideas at the time of delving into new designs, I forbid myself from touching a computer or Pinterest for a part of the creative process. I'll take a stack of paper and explore as many avenues as I can based on those ideas - some of them may have evolved in my mind, some I'll interpret differently and might take on a new angle. Somehow, something special filters out of this process and these slowly baked ideas.

The internet has impacted my design process in the sense that the overload of visual information we receive from it is overwhelming and sometimes takes precedence over real-life inspiration. This is why I try to use this 'filter' of passing time and evolved ideas to simplify things and bring them as far away from the virtual world as possible.

 Photo credit:&nbsp; @igorzacharov

Photo credit: @igorzacharov

3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

It's been a slow process, and I've only recently felt like I've arrived at a place where I've found my creative voice and am proud of what I do. It's taken years of attempting a myriad of avenues and possibilities, materials, designs, tweaking my brand and the way I communicate - but I finally feel I've reached a certain balance and sense of harmony. The benchmark I've set myself is an eternally moving post though, so I'll have to keep up!

Another aspect that helped me to find my place and voice was moving from my home studio into a shared studio over a year ago – a really cosy, creative space I’m always very happy to spend long hours working in. This move really transformed my motivation - being surrounded by successful, creative people all running their own businesses is really inspiring, as well as making a distinct separation between work and private life.

 &nbsp;Photo credit:&nbsp; @eliskakyselkova

 Photo credit: @eliskakyselkova

 &nbsp;Photo credit:&nbsp; @eliskakyselkova

 Photo credit: @eliskakyselkova

 Photo credit:&nbsp; @janovajohana

Photo credit: @janovajohana

 Photo credit:&nbsp; @janovajohana

Photo credit: @janovajohana

4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

I'm more than happy for others to be inspired by my work - that's a wonderful thing actually! Last year however, for the first time, I encountered blatant copies of my hand earrings - and little metal, mass-produced earrings started popping up everywhere, from boutiques in NYC to markets in Europe, Instagram posts and large high-street stores.

Here in the Czech Republic, a non-profit organisation helps local designers navigate issues like intellectual property. Their lawyers offer partly pro-bono work tackling plagiarism and are currently helping me counter some of the bigger players selling my stolen designs. Often, I’ll receive messages from my lovely, helpful customers or followers, who let me know of a shop or Instagram account they've come across selling the copies. When that happens, I politely write to the shop and let them know the design is stolen - sometimes, they'll be unaware of it, be understanding and take the product down. At other times, the conversation is more complicated.

 &nbsp;Photo credit:&nbsp; @eliskakyselkova

 Photo credit: @eliskakyselkova

 &nbsp;Photo credit:&nbsp; @eliskakyselkova

 Photo credit: @eliskakyselkova


5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

One of my favourite quotes is 'You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with'. I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with good, positive, driven people. Six years ago, when I started my business, I was inspired by a new group of friends of mine who were self-employed or didn't have 'conventional' jobs. They showed me that it was possible to succeed from creativity - it’s contagious! - and I decided to follow in their footsteps.

 Photo credit:&nbsp;&nbsp; @mariekebosma

Photo credit:  @mariekebosma


6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

All of the following women are talented, driven artists and dear friends who work really hard and have made their crafts their full time jobs: @andsmilestudio (an illustrator), @karolinastrykova (a hand lettering artist and designer), @annanemone__ (an illustrator and textile designer) and @alishu.co (an artist and graphic designer).

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 Photo credit:&nbsp; @janovajohana

Photo credit: @janovajohana

Craft With Conscience: Irem Yazici

Sarah Benning

Irem Yazici of Baobab Handmade // Embroidery Artist // Eskisehir Turkey


Irem Yazici is a self taught fiber artist based in Eskisehir Turkey. Her artistic journey began in 2014 with her interest in craft and she has kept exploring her artistic-self through the medium of embroidery.

Her studio practice is divided into two parts: Making embroidered accessories such as pins and creating personal artworks. Her work is a combination of her illustration and embroidery practices, where she explores through color and texture. She creates worlds out of her surreal visions where magical things happen. 

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one’s own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artists’ lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

 The internet is the reason I'm able to do what I do. If i wouldn't have it, I don't think I could have made a living from embroidery. To be able to share my works through social media gave me some amazing opportunities which I couldn't imagine; such as working with global brands and galleries. Back in the old days, to be known as an artist/ maker was up to appreciation of some authorities of the art/design community which was discouraging to become an artist. Since the chance of exposure were low and you know you need to make a living as an artist to be able to keep create non stop. I know so many people who has chosen another path rather than focusing to practise their art because of these reasons. There are many specific audiences and everything has a buyer in this world and now by the help of social media everyone has the opportunity to meet their specific audience.

I also think internet is the reason that embroidery has finally got to be recognized as an art branch and find the value it deserves. Now we are able to access so many artists' works and the community has realized there's something more in this medium.

Irem Yazici, Magic  Carpet Ride on a Pink Night, 2017, 5''x5'' , Hand stitch.JPG
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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

In the process of designing accessories such as pins, I do make a research on the internet.  When I'm preparing a specific collection of pins it helps me a lot by giving me ideas to stitch something that I've never seen in my life such as a kind of frog that lives in the rainforest. For my one of a kind artworks, I can say they are more related to my real life. It all starts with a vision appear in my head in random moments but also anything can stimulate my mind such as a music, my spiritual journey, or a specific plant and sometimes some materials can flash ideas into my mind. Most of my works are telling a story since they can also be visions of the tales I made up. When I get stuck on imagining the surroundings around the basic idea I get help from the internet where I have pinterest boards called things like gardens, places, trees, birds where I gathered my favourites.

Irem Yazici, Celebration in the Forest, 2016, 4''x4'', Hand Stitch.JPG

3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

 I feel like finding your creative voice is like finding your home in a labyrinth. It can be tricky and a hard way to find. You sometimes follow a path but you realise that it's not taking you to your home. Actually everytime you try, you get closer to your home. I can say it's just a result of hardwork and non stop effort. Stitch by stitch, piece by piece it starts to have a characteristic face.

Irem Yazici, A Night in the Haunted Forest, 2016, 4''x4'', Hand stitch.JPG

4. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

 I saw  some copycats of mine. Some were selling those works and some were not but I think both of them are frustrating. When I saw them I felt like someone was wearing a mask of my face and pretending to be like me which gave me a creepy feeling. Dealing with them can be exhausting but when I come across them it charges me to do better and level up. 

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5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

The best thing I learned so far is to trust my own vision. We may sometimes feel influenced so much by others and feel like we are lost. Try to give an ear to your inner voice because it's actually always there and you know you hear it, don't ignore it. It's the thing that enlightens your very own path that takes you to your 'home'. 

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6. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

At the moment I enjoy these artists' works:

@sophianarett

@ninniluhtasarri

@kjcardigan

@damselfrau

@kimikahara

@aronwiesenfeld

@davorgromilovic

@pauladuro

@staceyrozich

@adriancoxart

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All Images provided by the artist