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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: Marine Edith Crosta

Sarah Benning

Marine Edith Crosta // Painter // London UK


London based French painter Marine Edith Crosta is best known for her miniature tondi depicting stormy seascapes. More than just another nautical themed painting, her Lost at Sea series addresses the notions of intimacy and introspection, enhanced by the small format and the locket like frame. A feeling also conveyed through her Wanderer paintings, gazing at the ocean, and more recently through her portraits, where the subject depicted from behind looks away from the viewer, creating a level of mystery and privacy unexpected in portraiture.

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 ones’ 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?

First I'd just like to say if I can, well done you! As an artist, when the promotion of oneself on Instagram seems to be the norm, it is very tempting to try and draw all the attention to yourself, and keep things that way. So thanks for sharing and promoting other people's work too!

When I was studying art - Fine Arts in Bordeaux - I used Tumblr a lot, and I absolutely loved it. I think it really helped me build an aesthetics that I still strongly rely on. Most of the pictures I posted 6 years ago are still relevant to my art today, and it is very satisfying to look back at them!

I never interacted much with anyone on that platform, it was simply for me to train my eye and build a mood board, for myself, and develop a palette, an atmosphere that will direct my choices later in my practice.

 Instagram was literally a game changer for me as an artist. I am not afraid to say that I am addicted to it!

First, the audience and the contacts you can create, whether it be with collectors in Arizona, artists you admire in the same city, or even galleries, it is endless and broadened the spectrum of possibilities for everyone, everywhere. It is almost magical.

I am very interested in the business side of things, and I put the greatest care in building my internet and artistic persona, in terms of branding mainly, and see how that can reflect on the sales. I try and be consistent in my interventions online, because once you put it out there, you sort of lose the ownership and the control of things a bit. Being genuine but careful is, to me, the key.

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

Oh I wish I was painting from live view! I was using reference pictures found online when I first started my Lost at Sea pieces, then pictures I took myself while travelling. My collectors include sailors and surfers, who often send me their favourite photos; it is hard to run out of inspiration.

For my portraits I just photograph people myself, from friends to random strangers.

In terms of impact, I think the key for me is to stay away from painters who have a similar technique or subject. There is nothing more depressing and counterproductive than to compare yourself, unfortunately it is very easy to discourage yourself as there are SO MANY amazing artists out there on Instagram, you might as well give up. I try and challenge myself and find my own pace, instead of racing against other people, which is a recipe for disaster. I follow a lot of painters who have a completely different technique or palette, and I find it utterly inspiring. I also follow a lot of designers, potters, interior designers, fashion bloggers, antique dealers and photographers - and meme accounts, but that serves a different purpose ;)

 Talking about memes, there was one the other day that stroke me, saying something like 'Imagine if women were as kind to each other as they are in a club's toilet'. I find that the best thing about being on Instagram so far is the feeling of sisterhood that I've never felt anywhere else before. There is nothing more empowering than another successful woman, and there's so much to learn from them it almost makes my head spin.

I think the idea of the bohemian solitary artist is a myth that belongs to the past. I might be a creative and a maker, but I'm a business woman too. I make conscious decisions regarding the way I want to run things, and watching all the other girl bosses out there making it is a real booster!

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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?

I have encountered copies, and most of them were endearing art students respectfully replicating things and sending it to me. It isn't the same, we all learned by copying stuff we love, didn't we? And that's totally fine.

I find it a bit more frustrating when it's an account with huge following asking me where I source my frames, or things like that. Just do your own thing!

I found that my work became popular as soon as I started being true to myself and people must have felt it. But it took a lot of work to get there, so plain copies by seasoned artists are not ok. It's even a little bit sad.

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

As I stated above, I think it first takes a lot of work and research to ground your taste and lock in your true style. It can and it will always evolve but it doesn't happen overnight. Seek inspiration elsewhere, and stay true to your guts and what really makes you, you. As a creative it's the most important thing.

And then kindness, towards fellow artists, collectors, advice seekers. Money and success will come after, naturally ;)

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

So many! Can I do a ladies special then?

@morganelay who took the pictures illustrating this interview, une belle rencontre!

@quindry antiques and best taste ever, this lady is a true inspiration

@pernilleteisbaek, @polliani, @dilettabonaiuti fantastic sense of fashion and style, never forced.

@silkenfavours, is truly amazing and designs everything herself. Her clothes and crazy colours are just dreamy.

@helenedelmaire she is just so skilled and poetic, amazing oil painter

and I could go on and on, love them all.

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Photos by @morganelay

Craft With Conscience: Katy Biele

Sarah Benning

Katy  Biele // Embroidery Artist // Victoria BC, Canada


Katy Biele is a Chilean Embroidery artist living in Victoria BC in Canada. The style she's developed is based on her South American background and everything that she has taken in while traveling. The result is a combination of textures, a lot of bright colors and a wide variety of stitching and painting techniques.

Check out more of her beautiful work on her websitefacebook, instagram, or 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 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 share my artwork on the internet, mostly on instagram where I try to share my process to my followers and people who enjoy seeing my artwork. At this time I think it plays a super important role because it's a good platform where my work can be discovered and direct people to my Etsy shop

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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 paint and make a lot of drawings, that's a big part of my process for finding inspiration. I've also been traveling a lot and living in different places and have a lot of photos and memories of particular styles, patterns and colors that have had an impact on me.  At the moment I live in the beautiful west coast of Canada, and in Victoria there are a lot of gardens where I can find ideas for new artwork. On the internet I like to follow artists that I respect on instagram and I feel very inspired when I see their process too. I Usually have ideas in my mind that I have to create either in textile or on paper, some ideas last longer and some are very fast. It's a magical process, sometimes I really don't know where the ideas come from.

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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?

   Instagram is growing so much now and I realize that we take a lot of risks sometimes sharing all our work, videos, and processes etc. Somebody can take all of our ideas and sell them very easily,  but without these internet sites, it would be so much more difficult to be discovered by art curators, shops and other business opportunities. I have seen some copies of my work and ideas where even the title of the piece was copied. It makes me feel very frustrated and sad when it happens, but most of the time I find very respectful followers or other designers and artists that like my work. There is a very supportive community out there.

  I try to take as many photos as I can of the work in progress, to show the steps that I have to do to create an embroidery piece, painting or illustration. I also write about where the idea come from or why I'm doing that piece etc. I think that is  a good way the  show how your work and process are totally creative and  real.

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

   The advice that I can give is to keep going, that this is a long long process, and it can take a lot of time to create an art style to finally create pieces or illustrations that  make some sense for ourselves. Always keep your own style, and find your own voice in any kind of creative art or business that you make, the key is to keep it original. Also try to use different materials and mediums because we never know what we can discover there!  Remember, if it was easy, everyone would be successful. 

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

I follow a lot of artists whose work, originality, and creative process makes me feel so happy and inspired. These ladies are my favorites:

 Trini Guzman from Chile.

 Valeria Faúndez,  From Chile

 Isabelle Feliu, who is an illustrator.

Leah Goren, from NY

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All photos provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Libby Williams

Sarah Benning

Libby Williams // Mixed Media Artist // Luxembourg City


Libby Williams is a painter and embroidery artist currently based in Luxembourg City. She moved from Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2016 to Luxembourg, where she divides her time between making art, teaching English, and travelling as much as possible. In her work, she shifts back and forth between abstraction and representation, working with paint and embroidery, often combining the two. Her work explores the potential of color and shape to create expansive and beautifully complex spaces. 

Check out more of her amazing work at her website, instagram, or 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?

I have found Instagram to be particularly motivating in terms of pushing me to continue making art. Since my day job as English teacher demands a lot of time and energy that is very separate from the process of art making, it can be all too easy to lose momentum on current projects or stop making art altogether. For me, having constant access to other artists’ creative processes is extremely motivating and helps push me keep creating. It also is a tangible form of personal accountability for myself. If I haven’t posted anything in a while, it’s because I haven’t been making anything! 

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

I have been drawing places since I was little, and like many, entered into art making via representation. It wasn’t until grad school that I began to understand that painting didn’t need to be about identifiable imagery, but could instead be about it’s own visual language. Once I came to this realization I jumped head first into abstraction, intent on developing my own vocabulary of color, shape and form. Eventually I became interested in representation again, but this time from a completely different perspective. I began to make landscape paintings from direct observation with an interest in compositional shapes and creating as much depth as possible on a flat surface. This ambition has followed me into my embroidered landscapes, where I continue to establish my own visual vocabulary by creating work with an expansive sense of space and complex compositional structure.

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

Living in Luxembourg, a country with three national languages, has certainly rejuvenated my interest in thinking about art as a visual language. Working as an English teacher requires me to deconstruct my own mother tongue so thoroughly that I have developed a deep fascination with the concept of language itself. I explore this interest most intentionally through an ongoing series of small gouache paintings where I establish rules, exceptions and visual logic through the use of color, line and shape.

Regarding the specific imagery in my representational work, I am always inspired by landscape, particularly in sweeping vistas, rugged terrain and the intersection of architecture and nature. Since moving to Luxembourg, I have definitely taken advantage of its close proximity to so many diverse landscapes and tend to seek them out when I travel. Some particularly inspiring destinations I have visited in the past year have been the Isle of Skye in Scotland and Cinque Terre in Italy.  

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

It goes without saying that every artist’s career path looks wildly different from one another’s. That said, the best practical advice I can give would be to pause whatever you’re doing and write down your end goal, followed by the steps that you know you need to take to get there. It sounds basic, but if you don’t identify your goals then it will be impossible to achieve them!   

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

One of my favorite things about Instagram is seeing what my other artist friends are up to. Especially now that there is an ocean between us and studio visits aren’t possible, I love dropping in on their IG accounts to see what they’re working on! Some of my favorites to check in on are @tsmith02 and @tarynsingleton

I love listening to podcasts and am particularly inspired when a story reveals any element of the creative process. One podcast I’ve been listening to recently is Song Exploder, where current musicians describe the process of creating one of their songs. I always feel very motivated to work after hearing other artists talk about what inspires them and how they bring an idea to life. I also love to watch Project Runway for all the same reasons!

Otherwise, I am totally obsessed with painting and love to follow blogs and artists who talk about it. Some favorites are: Brett Baker’s Painter’s Table, Jen Samet’s Beer with a Painter, Kyle Staver on Facebook and @eleanor.k.ray on Instagram. A few of my favorite painters (from past and present) are: Richard Diebenkorn, Édouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, Frank Auerbach, Helen Frankenthaler, Fairfield Porter, Andre Derain, Gustave Courbet, Martha Armstrong, Kyle Staver, Stanley Lewis, Mark Lewis  and Allison Gildersleeve.  

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All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Laura Agustí

Sarah Benning

Laura Agustí // Illustrator // Barcelona, Spain


Laura is an illustrator living in the Sant Antoni neighborhood of Barcelona. She studied fine art, specializing in painting as well as interior and graphic design. After 4 years of working in an architectural study program, she decided to leave it all to draw. Her romantic lines evoke past times as her nostalgic imagery speaks towards the present. She is passionate about plants and animals, and it’s reflected in her house and her work.

Check out more of her beautiful work on 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 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 and social networks were key in my decision to leave my job as an interior designer to devote myself completely to drawing. I started to draw because I was very stressed with my work and needed to create something to distract the mind. The response that my drawings had on social networks was so good and a push to take a chance.

I have met wonderful people who have helped me a lot, and I have real friends that I have met through  instagram, so I am very grateful.  I receive many requests through facebook and instagram for custom commissions and drawings for tattoos but also larger projects for corporate brands.

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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 do commissions for people, many times I’m working from the photos they provide me. Many times they are of their own pets or themselves. If I have to draw animals I use images from the internet, sometimes I use my own pets as models. I love buying plants and flowers and drawing them. It is always much more exciting to draw things out of reality than working from internet images, although I also love using the old illustrations by Pierre-Joseph Redouté as references.

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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?

The line between inspiration and infringement is separated with respect and humility, as easy as naming the source of inspiration makes you look at that work in one way or another. I found copies of my work on T-shirts in other countries and it made me very angry because it's so complicated to do anything about it. When people are inspired by my work I find it very nice and I publish their version, I think that if people copy you it’s because you are on the right track, but there are times when it is done without giving credit. This really used to upset me, but now I try not to let it get to me. An illustrator friend recommended that I save all the images based on my work, and that's what I do.

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

My advice for aspiring artists is to try to find your own style, you need to move your personality to what you are doing and be consistent. It is very important to meet people and make collaborations, it is very enriching and you learn a lot. Be very humble and honest with yourself and with people.

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

I'm in love with Freunde Von Freunden and Design Sponge.  And of course here’s mine.

On instragram I love the account of my partner, I admire his illustrations (@jerjesllopis), also friends like @paulabonet, @mariahesse and my favorites are the plants from  @urbanjungleblog or @pistilsnursery. I am a big fan of the decoration and the nice houses of @finelittleday.

Photos by Sandra Rojo

Craft with Conscience: Jocelyn Gayle Krodman

Sarah Benning

Jocelyn Gayle Krodman of PetitFelts // Felting Artist // Kingston, NY
 


Jocelyn is an artist living and working in Kingston, NY. She created her brand, PetitFelts, in 2011 and since then she has made it her goal to create high quality, unique needle felted pieces. She strives to make animals that spring to life through their expressions and whimsical humor. She puts lots of love into her work and above all else, she hopes that people can sense that when they come across her creations. She crafts each of her pieces by hand dying wool and using a technique called needle felting. The process involves tangling the fibers of wool with a barbed needle in order to create wool sculpture. 

Check out more of her amazing work on Instagram, her website, or at her Etsy shop.

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 is an absolute asset to my creative business. It allows my work to be seen and purchased internationally, which is a pretty incredible thing. Social media is invaluable when it comes to getting your work out there in front of people as you’re creating and enables you to see what resonates. When you spend most of your time alone in your studio, it can be easy to lose perspective, so I find it very useful to see what’s working. There are of course downsides, one being that I can easily begin to feel overwhelmed and intimidated if I spend too much time getting lost in it all, so I tend to post and avoid scrolling as much as possible!

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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 inspiration comes from countless places. I think it’s something that seeps into us just by being out in the world and taking everything in. My felting work of course is often just inspired by the animals themselves, but I try to put my love for the beauty that’s found in small, subtle details into my work. I try to avoid using the internet for a source of inspiration when it comes to my pieces. I’m in the midst of renovating a home with my partner and Instagram and Pinterest can be extremely helpful when it comes to something like kitchen or floor plan inspiration, but when it comes to felting, I’d rather turn to what I have stored in my head.

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?

I have run into this a few times. It’s such a blurry issue, because I am by no means the only person out there making needle felted animals and I certainly wasn’t the first. I do feel like with felting or anything else, you have to have your own unique style and that’s what sets your work apart. When I’ve found other artists that seem to follow my work closely and very much had their own personal style start making work that looks less like theirs and more like mine...that’s what I struggle with. What I’m working on learning is the ability to not let it affect me in such a strong way. In the end, it’s out of your control and you just have to keep making work and moving forward! Lately I’ve been trying to use it as a reminder to shake things up and not let my work get too stagnant.

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

Keep at it! I find that when I’m going through a challenging time with my business or even just struggling inside my own head in my studio, that if I keep showing up to do the work and continue to put love into it, opportunities present themselves.

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

I find Elsa Mora’s paper cutting pieces to be so unbelievably beautiful. I had the pleasure of teaching alongside her at the Sweet Paul Makerie in 2016 and she’s as amazing as her work.

Andrew Molleur is my partner and I am so inspired by his studio practice. He’s constantly experimenting with materials and new designs. He has endless energy for his work and I love to watch it evolve over time.

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Photos provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Ann Wood / Woodlucker

Sarah Benning

 

Ann Wood of Woodlucker // Mixed Media Artist // Minneapolis MN


Woodlucker is a visual partnership and studio founded by Ann Wood and Dean Lucker after graduating from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. This partnership is based on both individual and collaborative practices. Ann has created artwork in many mediums—eggs shell mosaics, wood sculpture, embroidery, drawing and painting. Currently she is making plants, feathers and butterflies made of handmade paper with wire structures.  She came to nature as a subject because it is universal. We pause to look at a flower, pick up a feather, touch a leaf or comment to a companion about a particular specimen. Nature’s beauty is fleeting and ever changing in it’s magnificence. Ann's artwork speaks to the notion that everything is temporary. Ann works from the real, not to duplicate but interpret nature’s splendor. She tries to capture the variety and essence of the real but with the outcome being a heighten reality where the viewers stops to take a second glance.

Check out their amazing work at woodlucker.com and instagram.com/woodlucker

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 am inspired by the artwork and the photography I see on Instagram. I enjoy following creativity in many forms but I do believe following my own individual voice is my most important path. It's great to get immediate comments about posted pictures because I remember working with no feedback until a show was up at an opening as a young artist. I do wonder if all the sharing is changing art making. After doing IG for several years, I have an idea of some of things my audience likes. I try to be aware yet keep experimenting with tangents I find compelling. During the 1990’s, we wholesaled handmade sculptures and mechanical games to shops and galleries. The consideration of the stores needs and balancing my personal expression is very similar to what I do now with my IG account.

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

I grew up on a farm located in the center of the US. My dad grew crops and raised animals as our family business. As soon as I would wake up in the morning, I would run outside to the garden to see if the plants had grown during the night. My appreciation of nature was developed at an early age.

Today I find myself looking at my phone first thing in the morning, probably like many of you. I still look at my garden every morning in the summer just as I did as a child. I do see the growth of paper florals and flower photography on IG. I see my work as influenced by this trend but I hope I explore it in an unique manner. I've always been interested in turning common materials into something unique and creating artwork that was relatable to a broad audience. I’m using IG as a platform for creative experimenting and documenting my process.

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?

Botanical art has a vast history and I’m creating within that context. I have seen objects on Instragram look uncomfortably similar to some of my pieces. I do believe its impossible to not absorb what you see but as an artist you have to be careful in the way inspiration works its way through your own creativity. Most of the time I see it as a compliment, it is hard when I see someone capitalize on a technique I invented. Everyone has their own voice and I count on my own creativity to keep me moving forward, changing and growing into something new.

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

I work almost every day with occasional breaks for travel. I knew as a child nothing made me feel as good as making something with my hands. I had never met an artist before art college but I knew it was my path. The creative path is a difficult choice and I have found it comes with great highs and lows with many personal sacrifices. I'm probably older than your average reader, I'm 56. Throughout the years, I've found being flexible, changing as times change and following what I want to do to be the most important.

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

Some of my IG favorites are  bookhou, eugenia_zoloto, tiffanieturner  marianneeriksenscotthansen  fiddleheadfinecrafts  bonepearlqueen and yours Sarah.

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All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Madriguera Workshop

Sarah Benning

Madriguera workshop // Ceramic Studio // Galícia, Spain

Madriguera workshop is a creative workshops based on Galicia (Spain) that is passionate about design and crafts. The workshop was founded by Lydia de la Piñera and Luis Llamas in 2012, since then have been designing and making unique, artisan and creative pieces. They are makers of objects full of life. The process is entirely done by hand. Some of the pieces are hand-thrown on the throwing wheel in different kinds of clay. Their porcelain pieces are cast in plaster molds.

Check out more of their work on their instagram or website.


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 has been the main promoter of our project right from the beginning.

In 2012 we were working on other similar projects and finally joined together to found Madriguera Workshop. Since then we began selling online in our own shop as well as Etsy. We were so happy with the impact and the quick visibility of our work around the world. Thanks to the Internet we have the ability to work on what we like best.

But now the visibility in the Internet is more complicated than before. Social media platforms aren't too equitable and this is prejudicial to small makers.

In any case, the Internet has become essential for our project.

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

The Internet is a big library for finding inspiration and It’s been wonderful!

We have known a lot of designers and artisans because of this great maker community. We learn new elaborations, processes and discover new methods thanks of them. With the internet, we can learn things faster and more information is available, but it’s important to get away once in a while and look for the inspiration all around us. Our personal world, daily lives and our nature makes our creations different from everything else. It's important to keep the originality.

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?

Exactly, we were referring to this in the previous question. The Internet is great as a tool of inspiration but the designers can't lose their own originality.

In our case we have not found works identical to ours but we have found questionable similarities albeit not enough to take action.

If you discover some copies of your work done by other maker it's possible to make an agreement more easy but the problem is if the copies come from large corporations. Here the only effective tool is social pressure. The makers community have to help in this way and our actions can change things.

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

 We still feel like apprentices in this field. We have a lot of things to learn and this motivate us.

Our advice is to enjoy it. Be tenacious, patient and don't lose confidence and the vision for the project. Grow slowly with confidence and sustainability.

The craft with conscience is essential to make a better world.

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

We have a big favourites list. : )

Ceramists: Tortus Copenhagen and East fork pottery, the slow lifestyle is inspiration to us.

Design and Photo: Ignant.

Friends of ours: (Spanish brands): Lele lerele, Hamabi Design, Depeapa and Don fisher.

 All images provided by the artists.

Craft With Conscience: Teresa Lim

Sarah Benning

Teresa Lim // Embroidery Artist // Singapore


Teresa graduated from Lasalle College of the Arts with a First Class B.A. Honours in Fashion Design and Textiles. Her personal design philosophy is to fuse three of her interests together: Illustrations, Embroidery and Surface pattern design. Her designs seek to blur the lines and boundaries between being an illustrator and a textile designer. She gets inspired by themes revolving around gender and womanhood.

Check out more of her work on her Instagram and website.

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 is a bittersweet thing. Its great because I can share my work with people all over the world and I never thought I could earn a living from this but with the internet, it became possible to make a living doing something I love. Putting my work online has also opened up amazing work opportunities I would never have dreamed of, I would have never met amazing clients and gotten dream projects. Part of this also includes connecting with my audience and being part of a community with so many lovely and supportive people online.

But the downside of the internet is that it is very easy to slip into this phase where posting work online becomes a way to seek validation through likes. This gives a very false sense of reality. I’ve been through times when I would post a picture and if it gets less than certain number of likes in the first hour I would delete it and think that its not good enough. I’d spend weeks on a piece and when its finished I would put it up online and when it doesn't hit a certain number of likes, I would end up feeling very demoralised. One time it even led to me to destroy a piece I spent HOURS on. Its terrible, I dont remember starting out like this. Instagram used to be a happy place for me to share what I love doing. But this slippery slope of online validation made me very unhappy and resentful towards my work. It reached a point where posting work on social media made me feel sick in the stomach, that's when I realised that something has to change.

This change is definitely still a work in progress, but I’ve learnt that its very important to not let social media rule the majority of my life by letting it decide how happy or successful I am. I think its important in this digital day and age where almost EVERYTHING revolves around ratings and feedback, that one should not live for public approval but instead its how you feel about yourself and your work that determines the quality of your own life/profession. So now before I post anything online, I ask myself if I’m happy with it, and if I am…then that's all that matters. I don't look at numbers now, instead I am encouraged when my clients are happy with the work I’ve done or when my customers tell me how happy they are with their commissioned piece. I feel validated when participants from my embroidery workshop leave feeling inspired, and most importantly, I feel happiest when I look at my work and say I love what I do.

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

I try not to go online to “look for inspiration”. In fact I try to stay offline as much as possible when it comes to work. Most of my inspiration comes from the books I read (I always go back to Journals of Sylvia Plath and The Pillow Book for inspiration) and also through my own writing.

I carry a notebook with me called [Thoughts & Observations] that I would write in every day. I'd go to a Starbucks or sit in the park writing about the sounds that I hear, about how the weather makes me feel, about the couple sitting across from me…what are they like, what kind of dreams do they have…about the old man crossing the road, what was his life like… where is he going… Through writing, imagination and lots of reflection, I feel connected with the world around me and through that I gain a lot of ideas and inspiration.

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?

Yes I have encountered copies of my work online, there was one that looked so similar that my client actually thought I violated the copyright agreement and resold the design to another client. :(

Sometimes I get tagged in works that are inspired by my style of portrait commissions, I am always glad to see them, but I guess its one thing to be "inspired" to create something of your own and another thing to be "inspired" to create the same exact thing AND sell it as yours.

I'm going to be honest, I've been on the other side of this. When I was starting out many years ago I was trying to find my own style but I didn't know how, so I started looking online for embroidery works that I could follow. I really love the works of Hannah Hill and the little patches she does. I was so inspired by her works because they're always so cute and empowering at the same time. So I decided to make some for myself, I happily made these patches and people started requesting to buy them, so I started selling them. In all honesty it never crossed my mind that it would be copying because I always changed the illustration, the texts and the colors. I thought embroidered patches were a very universal thing that nobody "owned" so I wasn't actually copying. But eventually it caught the eye of Hannah herself and she reached out to me saying that I copied her work and it has really upset her. Initially I was confused because it caught me by surprise, but when more people pointed it out to me, I felt really bad and sorry, took down everything and remembered the feeling of embarrassment and never did it again.

So now looking back, I think sometimes when these things happen, most people don't do it out of bad intentions but a general lack of understanding and knowledge. I guess deep down I also knew that since I'm producing work that has already been done, it was not creatively enriching for me and I did not get any sense of accomplishment from doing so.

This pushed me to develop a style of work that I can now call and identify as mine. My hope is that others who find themselves "stuck" like I was, will be encouraged that they eventually find it if they don't give up :)

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

I would say to refrain from comparisons. It's so easy to look over at what others are doing and then feel like you're inadequate or not good enough. But the thing with comparing is that there will always be someone better than you…if not now, there will be. So I’d say to focus on your own race and tell your own stories through your work or business, and let others do their own.

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

I do! Marlene Dumas is my absolute favourite artist.

I also love the illustrations and rants of Frances Canon, the photography of Michal Pudelka  and Lukakz Wierzbowski. The embroidery work of @momo_needle and the line work and embroidery style of @memorialstitches.

All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Raquel Martín

Sarah Benning

Raquel Martín // Illustrator // Menorca Spain

Raquel Martín is a freelance illustrator and artist from Barcelona, currently based in the beautiful and tiny island of Menorca. Often drawing from imagined scenes and landscapes, her work somehow creates a narrative through a uniquely minimalistic style that isn’t only beautiful, but also really fun.

Her work has appeared several different publications and magazines and she also makes illustrations for her own shop catalogue. You can check out more of her work at her website or her instagram.

(I also want to say a special thank you to Raquel for participating in English, which I believe, is actually at least her 4th language!)

 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 think the internet is an undeniable tool for artists, full of visual inspiration (paintings, photos, color combinations...) However, I really think that all this information should be used to help us supplement what already comes from within, the most important and unique aspect of your work. It is the only way to keep your own identity. 

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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 think inspiration comes from everywhere. I sometimes find inspiration from real life (I live in such a beautiful place!) but other times from magazines, photos....Even the work of other artists that I admire has inspired me in order to try different painting mediums or techniques. 

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

I suppose that some good advice would be to not to be afraid of taking the necessary time to find your own identity in your work. Searching yourself for what makes your work unique, I really think is the only way to get your work to be an honest reflection of yourself as an artist. I am still working on it... 

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

I love the work of artists and illustrators like Carson Ellis, Carla Fuentes, Laura López Balza, Kate Pugsley, Miren Asian Lora, Lindsay Stripling, Laia Arqueros and many others....

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All images provided by artist.

Craft With Conscience: Jane Denton

Sarah Benning

Jane Denton Art // Textile Artist // Wellington NZ


Jane’s most in her element when immersed in creating textile art at her studio in Wellington, New Zealand. Her love of color and texture shines through in her contemporary hand-stitched artwork, designed to bring a little bit of happiness to people’s homes. Over the past five years Jane’s work has struck a chord with art lovers across America, who are looking for their own unique, handcrafted piece of New Zealand.

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

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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 has played an integral role in my business.  When I first started creating and selling my art I quickly realised how small the New Zealand market is. Being featured on international blogs and social media has enabled me to build an international customer base – something I wouldn’t have been able to do so easily without the internet.

Instagram has been an invaluable tool to connect with other creatives around the world, and also to show work to potential customers – love it!

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

 I’m always noticing colors and patterns in everyday life – unexpected things like the shapes of floor tiles in a bathroom or an amazing display of color in a friend’s garden.

Online I find inspiration through details in photos that other people may not notice – like how a window frame and its shadow create an interesting composition or how a vertical timber panelling detail looks pretty with the plain cupboard next to it.

I’m also interested in color combinations often in fashion or interior images. Sometimes it’s not a conscious thing but when you see a particular color alot - it tends to make its way into your work!

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?

 When I first started out I was very concerned that my work would be copied – and over the years it has been. However, in recent years this doesn’t bother me quite so much - I feel like my business and brand is now established and the risk of someone copying my work and having a significant impact is low.

I guess it’s one of those things that’s out of my control so I try not to worry about it.

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

 I think persistence and a never give up attitude are key for starting your own business.  I also think having another job is hugely beneficial when starting out as it takes the pressure off financially. When I’m feeling under pressure I find this can have a negative impact on my creativity.

I also think professional styling and photos are vital and I wish that I’d been able to invest money into this area when I first started. If you have an online store the photos need to represent your work in the best possible way.

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

 I really love interiors and I’m fascinated with styling – probably because it doesn’t come naturally to me! I enjoy following:

Bonny Beattie – New Zealand stylist and photographer (Instagram)

Emily Henderson – Stylist, author, blogger (Instagram)

Centered by Design – Interior Designer and blogger Claire Staszak  (Instagram)

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All Images by photographer and stylist Bonny Beattie

Craft With Conscience: Lindsay Stripling

Sarah Benning

Lindsay Stripling // Painter, san francisco, CA

Lindsay works primarily with watercolor on paper, using color and form to create dreamlike narratives that echo folk and fairy tales that we vaguely remember from childhood. Whimsical and dark characters exist in familiar landscapes, playing out scenes from stories with no beginning, middle or end. And where the moral might be lost, switched, blurred or even just completely missing.

Check out her website or Instagram for more work.

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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?

I am going to date myself a bit, but when I was a freshman in college it was the first year of Facebook- when it was connected to colleges only- flash forward to now where instagram is queen (I do not like Facebook and am barely on there now, which is a growing sentiment I think) and sharing work, images and creating community is so easy to do! The internet has made me becoming a full time artist possible, and its also opened the door to seeing how other people have made their art/work their full time jobs. Its very inspiring and pushes me for sure.

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

I find a lot of inspiration for my work through reading (a lot), I love magic realism like Helen Oyeyemi, Haruki Murakami, Ken Liu and recently I have been re-reading and exploring greek myths. My other main source of inspiration is observing people and looking at their fashion choices, color combos- living in the city and walking through the park, taking the train, I get to see a lot of really amazing people and do a lot of observing, probably one of my favorite parts of San Francisco is the variety of people and styles in one small place. I also am an avid listener of the news and podcasts like Pod Save America, Mythology Podcast, Last Podcast on the Left and Myths and Legends. Most of my paintings are just me sketching on paper until the image feels right, and then painting from there, often times I just know an inkling of an idea of what I want to make, and then it solidifies as I work on it.

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?

I love sharing work on social media, I often do a lot of teaching with workshops and online classes, what I was taught and what I still believe is that part of people learning or developing style is emulating people they admire. I encourage my students to do that because inevitably their work will be different. I often times use things from my own work as examples of how to create- so my students end up making student work based on a style I have developed for myself, they tag me in them and I love it. I have a hard time with the word infringement, I have for sure  had people make work that is unintentionally/unconsciously in the same vein as mine and vice versa, and I think that that is hard to avoid in a world where we are so transparent about our imagery. Part of me finds it refreshing, part of me finds it annoying, but mostly I think that it doesn't matter that much- my work is my work and I don't need to spend a ton of time justifying it, and neither should anyone else. That being said, there are points when that type of back and forth can take an ugly turn, with companies like Zara full on stealing independent artists' ideas and not being apologetic about obvious thievery. But in my personal experience people being inspired by other people is part of what making art and sharing it is all about.

 

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

Sheesh, do they have any advice for me? I feel like I am still just sorting all this out, making better decisions on how to track my finances, handle shipping and bringing in a studio assistant to help me with organization. All I want to do all day is the creative work, draw, paint and draw some more, but I obviously need to handle the other boring stuff. So I would say do all the things yourself at first, so you know how to do them, and then bring in someone to help you with the things you don't like to do (like shipping and finances), cause if you are like me at all, they just won't get done well otherwise. I am still working full time alongside my full time art career- and it is really hard, but I guess I also want to say that instagram and other social media accounts don't really do a good job of allowing space for artists to discuss the fact that most of us have to have a side hustle in order to make it. I wish I could just be a full time artist- and I feel like I am making moves to get there, but for now its a lot of late night painting sessions after getting home from work.

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

Some of my favorite artists, the ones I always come back to, are Marcel Dzama, Amy Cutler, Jockum Nordstrom and Mamma Andersson. I was able to see a show of Amy Cutler's work a few years ago at the Virgina Moca, and it absolutely blew my mind, since then I feel like my work changed from trying to talk about memory and narrative through found objects and photos into me trying to create narrative through characters of my own, I just love how her work crosses into the political in so many ways, and it feels relevant and personal because of that. I also love seeing what artists like Nathaniel Russel, Winnie Truong, Angela Dalenger, Stacey Rozich, Andrea Wan, Louise Reimer, Kristen Liu Wong, Michelle Blade, Esther Pearl Watson and Carson Ellis are all up to. They are all badass artists.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Danielle Clough

Sarah Benning

Danielle Clough // Fiber artist // Cape town, South Africa

To just call Danielle Clough a fiber artist is a bit of an over simplification. While much of her work consists of embroidery techniques in various forms, she's also established herself as a photographer and designer. Her embroideries are not only interesting for their compositional techniques, but also for the various materials that support her stitching, such as tennis rackets and chainlink fences. Inspired by the Cape Town street art and music scene, Danielle's work truly modernizes a traditional craft to make it something totally unique and her own. Please check out more of her work on her website or her Instagram. (seriously, there are too many amazing pieces to display here!) 

Photo Credit: Tyler B. Murphy

Photo Credit: Tyler B. Murphy

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, and mostly Instagram has been a critical tool in my creative and professional growth. It has given me exposure and direct access to people who appreciate my work, and want to work with me without having to follow the traditional formulas of shops or galleries. I feel so grateful for the how it has shaped my business and way of life. It has given me the freedom and confidence to do what I love as a career. I don't know what I would be doing if it wasn't for the interwebs.

That being said, like with anything, it comes with its challenges. It’s a new 'space' that doesn't have an exact formula and because of that, there is a lot of trial and error, with no manual or fall back plan. I've found I have gone through personal ups and down. Putting your work into the world through social media, where people have direct access to you, can leave you feeling quite vulnerable. I've gone through phases of putting a lot of pressure on myself to push out work, and the need to create content sometimes over powers the process, and my patience with myself to create good work that I should be taking my time with. I get left with the feeling like I am creating work for 'likes' and losing my own sense of direction. The affirmation from a social media platform when connected to your work can feel like a direct reflection of your skill and when it’s not there, it can be like failing. Those feelings have left me quite self-critical, which then gets in the way with what is really important, and that’s simply enjoying what I make. I am very self aware of these downs because of how important it is to share my work from an 'authentic' place. I absolutely love my audience, and the embroidery community who I find are very open about their own challenges with sharing work and have found the best way to get out of these down spaces is to put my phone away and create something just for me. These are often the pieces that I progress the most with.

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

I try not to engage with the internet for inspiration. I avoid looking at other people’s work as I feel it either filters into my thinking or, honestly, intimidates me (there are so so so many incredible creatives out there!). I try follow people from different disciplines to me to stop me from being comparative on social media, and that way I can just enjoy their work. I don't use Pinterest because of this. Its almost over stimulating. I find I am the most inspired when I am doing something outside of my routine and looking at things that I can be resourceful with; new tools, colours or materials (like finding a chunky bright pink wool, or seeing a broken fence and stitching it up). Inspiration is a fleeting thing, like a flash of energy when your favourite song comes on. What’s more important for me is being mindful of what motivates me. The force that takes an idea, that flash of inspiration and turns it into something tangible. In some ways Instagram plays a part in that because I feel driven to create new work for Instagram and my website. My main motivation though lies in challenging myself and  learning new skills.

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?

This is a difficult one as embroidery is predominantly a craft, based on patterns and replication. This creates a safe place where people can just 'make' and one can sit anywhere on the spectrum of creativity. This is why there is such a wonderful supportive community, but also why infringement is common. Embroidery by its nature is about taking other people's designs and techniques and recreating it, so with contemporary embroidery it straddles that line of art and craft. The rules of infringement seems to be more blurred than with other creative mediums. It has happened to me in varying degrees and was difficult at first. I've had to put my ego in check and am not bothered by it anymore. It helps having amazing support from people around the world who stand up for me, even when people repost my work and don't credit me. Its honestly one of the most heart warming things. I feel protected by the kindness of others and this helps me focus on what is more important to me which is own progression. When it comes to infringement I now think about it as they are recreating something that has already been done, and I will focus on creating something new.

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

On the practical side, take good photos of your work and always keep high res versions of your work ready. You never know when you are going to need them. Document your process and space as best you can and don't be afraid to ask for help (and be nice! You never know who's help you are going to need!). You do not need to be good at everything, just focus on being really good at the thing you enjoy.

On a more personal side, find the part of your creative process you enjoy and indulge in it. Your business will find a way to build around what you love most. This way you will also develop your own style, and when your work isn't derivative, you will tap into a market that you didn't know existed.

Oh, and a new trick that I learnt, when you are working on something and it doesn't feel quite right, look at it upside down!

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

I have a few! I find the people I l am moved by the most are not just because of the work they create, (there is so much incredible work out there) but because of the manner in which they do it.

I love the embroidery of Michelle Kingdom

Paintings of Lorraine Loots (possibly the nicest person on the planet)

The dedication of Jack Fox

The scale and scope of Faith47s work

The colours of Casey Weldon

The humour and honesty of Cecile Dormeau

And most importantly the work, advice and relentless support of Tyler B Murphy

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Craft With Conscience: Sara Boccaccini Meadows

Sarah Benning

Sara Boccaccini Meadows//Textile Designer + Illustrator// Brooklyn NY

Sara Boccaccini Meadows is a textile designer and illustrator, originally from the north of England. She takes inspiration from nature and the tiny details in her everyday surroundings to create unique and quirky prints and illustrations. She works with a variety of medias including watercolor, gouache, markers and fine line pens and starts her design process by making small studies in her sketchbook or journal. Check out her website or Instagram to see more of her amazing work.

  

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 has been an amazing way to grow and market my business. Sites like Instagram and Tumblr are great to curate visual stories of design process. I often share inspiration found from foliage, art and details from my surroundings, anything that inspires me and sparks the creative process for a new project or design. Often I follow with work in progress images of my paintings and illustrations, then a final piece or product. I think it is such a good platform to get your art out there and the feedback i've received has been so positive. I try to give myself time away from the internet whilst i'm painting, exploring and collecting new ideas, it can also be a distraction and time waster, it's sometimes hard to get the right balance.

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

 I find the majority of inspiration from nature. I go on a lot of hikes and like to explore botanical gardens in every city. I tend to collect little bits along the way- a rock, branch, leaf, flower then draw my findings. Sometimes it's from a photograph or memory.

I tend to use the internet more for client projects, especially in the initial stages when we're deciding on color and subject. Pinterest is amazing for this!

My recent personal work has focused more on the political climate in the world and has driven me to more figurative illustrations. It's been a challenge after not studying figures since my school life drawing class almost 10 years ago. But I'm quickly developing a style again and enjoying the diverse opportunities that are coming up. I'm particularly passionate about helping with issues that surround woman and plan on focusing more on this going forward. News sites and magazines like National Geographic are great sources of inspiration for these more recent works.

 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?

I have encountered a few paintings very close to some of my work but I try not to worry about this too much. I've found a lot of people are interested in my process which I'm happy to share, it's nice when I'm tagged in art inspired by my work which can sometimes look very similar but I know it will always be slightly different and hope that aspiring artists will use this to develop their own style. However, if I was to see my work stolen by a brand I'd be upset. I know this happens a lot and it's so sad that independent artists/brands have to deal with huge corporations ripping them off.

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

 I think just do what you love and don't force it. Things often develop naturally and if you're passionate about something that's a great start for success. I'm still working out the "business" side of my creative practice but I would advise getting a little help when you can, if for example, accounting, isn't your strong point. Also, talk to other creatives and help each other or bounce ideas- I find this SO inspiring!

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

I have a few so here's some of my favs!

Blog

http://www.designsponge.com/ 

I absolutely love Design Sponge and always find inspiring features, Grace Bonney is an inspiration and I love that she uses her platform to talk about important issues.

Podcast

http://www.debbiemillman.com/designmatters/

Design Matters is a series of podcasts presented by Debbie Millman, it has wonderful interviews with all sorts of creatives (including Grace Bonney) and keeps me focused and inspired whilst working.

Photography

@indiahobson

India Hobson has the most amazing colour/photography Instagram that's so beautifully organized. A lot of her work is shot in my home town and makes me so happy to scroll through if I start to miss the north of England.   

Illustration

http://www.bodiljane.com/

Bodil Jane is a Dutch illustrator I first came across when we both designed a series of posters for interior company Oh My Home (@ohmyhome). Her illustrations have serious girl power and her style has such a unique, feminine quality.

Embroidery  

@lockhartembroidery

I'm always so inspired by beautiful embroidery and adore your work and patterns (obviously, haha), I love that it's available to everyone with your monthly pattern program. @lockhartembroidery is another stitch inspiration- her work has a lot of 70's inspired details and she often works on denim and creates incredible sketch style stories-all hand stitched!  

Magazine

http://makersmovement.ca/

Makers Movement is a new magazine based out of Canada. I love how beautifully curated and thoughtful each issue is and they support lots of new, independent brands.

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Craft With Conscience: Nalani Gloor - Knotty Bloom

Sarah Benning

Nalani Gloor // Fiber Artist + Interior Architect // Tauranga, NZ

Nalani Gloor is a fiber artist and interior architect based in New Zealand. She studied Interior Architecture and Design at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, before completing her Bachelor of Design majoring in Interior Architecture at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. She learnt her macramé practice from her mother and started Knotty Bloom as a side business when she moved to New Zealand. With a mission to create honestly made and lasting products, that strive to embody a sense of comfort, care and visual aesthetics. She currently uses her home studio space to hand craft macramé pieces out of locally sourced New Zealand made materials in the hopes that each pieces brings meaning and life into their spaces.

Check out her beautiful work on her Instagram or Facebook.

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 proved to be a useful tool, especially for the business side of things. Instagram in particular has been an integral platform that has helped my work grow, evolve and expand in ways that I never thought were possible. It has enabled me to reach a global audience in a simple and accessible way. I have the freedom to create, control and curate my own distinct visual aesthetic, enabling the potential to reach my own niche audience in a direct and honest approach. Surprisingly, I have found that the Instagram community is filled with some of the most supportive and genuinely kind people. This direct engagement with my audience is priceless and has been one of the main driving forces behind my creative process.

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

I find inspiration in various forms, from nature, music, design, and architecture.  However, one of my earliest and biggest influences in my creative pursuits has been my mum. She has a never-ending ability to make almost anything. Moving around as a child, she was able to transform any space into a home. Just to give you an example, when we first moved to Australia from the United States, we lived in a large shed in Far North Queensland that was intended to be a temporary living arrangement while we built a house. It had a concrete slab floor and timber posts supporting a corrugated iron roof, with concrete masonry block walls around the bathroom and garage only. The rest of the shed was open to the wild outdoors and weather conditions, which created a literal 'indoor-outdoor' flow. Living in this space for 4 years, my mum was magically able to create a cosy and inviting home.

Another prevalent influence for me would have to be Mid Century Modern design, which has transferred from my studies and design job in Interior Architecture. Since I'm frequently looking at architectural plans, I'm drawn to compositions with geometric shapes, patterns and lines that I then try to incorporate in my macramé pieces as a way of modernising the idea of macramé.

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?

Since starting my side business I have definitely become more aware of the value of one's own work. My first few encounters with copycats left me feeling cheated and distressed. Since then, I have tried to muster a calm approach and remind myself that nothing can be reproduced in its authenticity. On a good day, I will try to use the frustration as an incentive to develop and refine my work, in the hopes that I can create a distinctive voice and aesthetic. This usually leads to further experimentation and instills an urge to discover new techniques or approaches to my work. Sometimes I like to think of these instances as a way of prompting me to let go of old work and designs, thus making space for new creations.  

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

Just start! There's no perfect time and no amount of planning or strategizing that can ever guarantee success. Dive in and figure out what works for you along the way as there's no one-size-fits-all approach. Above all, I would highly recommend connecting with other creatives, entrepreneurs and your audience, their advice, support, encouragement and presence is so empowering. The feeling of being part of a community can make all the difference to keep you going on those days that you're having doubts. Also, don't take yourself too seriously and enjoy the process!

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

 I could write a very long list but I will just name some recent favourites:

Blogs: thedesignfiles.net and broadsheet.com.au (when I feel homesick for Melbourne)

Creative Podcasts: meandorla.co.uk, and have-company.com

Artists: Elizabeth Barnett, Living Pattern, Adriana Picker, Katie Scott and Sophie Melville

Instagram accounts: @looseleaf_ @popandscott @haarkon_ @windychien @mimdesignstudio (plus many more)

All photos provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Michelle Kingdom

Sarah Benning

Michelle Kingdom// Embroidery Artist // Burbank, California

Her work explores psychological landscapes, illuminating thoughts left unspoken. she create tiny worlds in thread to capture elusive yet persistent inner voices. Literary snippets, memories, personal mythologies, and art historical references inform the imagery; fused together, these influences explore relationships, domesticity and self-perception. Symbolism and allegory lay bare dynamics of aspiration and limitation, expectation and loss, belonging and alienation, truth and illusion. 

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Michelle Kingdom studied drawing and painting at UCLA, earning a Bachelor’s degree in fine art. She has been involved in various fields of art, design and education throughout her career.  As a self-taught embroidery artist, Michelle quietly created figurative narratives in thread for years. She now exhibits her work nationally and internationally, and her embroideries have been featured in numerous publications such as The Huffington Post, Hi Fructose, Juxtapoz, Saatchi Gallery, and Colossal.  When not busy stitching, Michelle is a preschool teacher and lives in Burbank, CA with her husband and daughter. 

Check out her work on her WebsiteFlickr, Facebook, 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 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 plays a huge role in my work and life, which seems a bit ironic considering I use the terribly old fashioned, labor intensive medium of embroidery.

I first started stitching in the 1990's, before the prevalence of the Internet. Back then you had to physically see art in galleries, museums, or books, which made it much more reliant on art gatekeepers. The digital world has changed all of that and allows an intimate, personalized relationship to art, with unlimited accessibility to ideas and images. With a now broadened art world, we have the ability to customize our art exposure and consumption. It has essentially created a new pathway into a highly focused art experience, which may parallel the fine art world, completely diverge from it, or transform it into a hybrid.

As an artist, the Internet, and especially social media, has allowed me to find an audience that I believe would have been more difficult for me to find in the past. My embroideries are unusual, do not easily fit into an accepted genre, and are fairly small in scale. They might be marginalized or overlooked in a traditional context. But online, particularly on a format like Instagram, a post of a 6 inch embroidery carries the same weight as a full scale installation. The physical presence has been equalized, allowing for a newfound emphasis on personal resonance.

Professionally, showing and selling work has changed as well. There are now many points of entry and access in a highly complicated art world. Traditional gallery spaces are still important but social media is another valid way to promote art and should not be overlooked or dismissed. 

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

Inspiration comes from everywhere. Each piece is a synthesis of several elements including memories, relationships, photographs, literature, personal mythology, art history and imagination. I am interested in exploring identity and relationships, and how our perceptions, particularly filtered though the lens of our psyche, shape our reality. The continual tension of opposing dynamics such as aspiration and limitation, expectation and loss, belonging and alienation, truth and illusion, fascinates me. Ultimately my own personal experiences drive the concepts. 

My current process is really a collage of ideas and influences. I keep a sizable collection of reference materials including photographs, notes, sketches, quotes and memories. Many of these materials I store digitally, though not all, which has made accessibility nearly unlimited. By playing with multiple, sometimes juxtaposing images and ideas, beginnings of a story and vision emerge and are further developed into a mature piece. 

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?

I have encountered both inspiration and infringement, though it really doesn't affect my work much. I genuinely am flattered when someone else finds inspiration in what I do and am always happy to answer questions when people have them. Because I only make one of a kind pieces, I don't have issues of pattern infringement or duplicates  that might plague other artisans. A few people have tried to post my work as their own on social media sites which was very perplexing. When this happened, people that know my work have notified me (which I greatly appreciated), and the posts have been shut right down.

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

The best advice I have is to keep going, keep experimenting, and keep persevering. Don't wait for inspiration because it usually strikes when a project is already underway. I also think it's important to stay true to your own vision. While I am all for keeping an open mind and listening to others, an artist needs to answer to herself first and foremost.

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

There are so many amazing artists out there, too many to include everyone unfortunately. Some of my favorites stitchers are Darrel Morris, Sophia Narrett, Lisa Smirnova, Victor Espinoza, Ana Teresa Barboza, Anna Torma and Amelie William Levaux. I am greatly inspired by many other artists and mediums as well and anyone interested is welcome to visit my Pinterest boards.

Craft With Conscience: Ellie Macdonald

Sarah Benning

Ellie Macdonald // Embroidery Artist // Brighton, U.K.

Ellie works predominantly on a vintage freehand embroidery machine, she also trained at Cordwainers, specialising in the pattern cutting and construction of leather accessories. Ellie is currently focusing on producing bespoke embroidered commissions and small limited edition batches. She works collaboratively with other designers and brands while steadily building her own collection of embroidered patches these can be found in Wolf and Gypsy Vintage and online at Ellie Mac Embroidery Shop.

Check out more of her work on her Instagramwebsite, or her Pinterest

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 has had a huge impact on my whole business,  it’s helped take my embroidery in new unexpected directions.  Instagram  has enabled me to test ideas, see what’s popular and has ultimately lead me to launching my shop.

I've found that if you spend the time interacting with other people you build a small like minded community , In my experience this has lead to genuine friendships with a great support network.

For streamlining my thoughts I use Pinterest  a fair bit, especially when collaborating with people. I find it's a useful space where all our ideas, themes and inspiration can be amalgamated.

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

Inspiration can come in lots of different forms, if i'm feeling like i'm in a creative lull I visit somewhere new like a different town or a gallery, places that involve lots of people watching normally  help with new ideas . One constant inspiration is my family business which specialises in antique clothing and textiles.  I'm lucky to have access to my mum's archive of vintage textiles, this is frequently a great starting point for researching colours and techniques. The textile business has been a part of my creative life for over 20 years and I never get bored by seeing the pieces coming in and out as they are bought and sold.

Once I have an idea or a subject I then turn to books, google & photographs. If I'm at the stage where I'm interpreting an image like a photograph for example,  I normally trace a more simplified version in preparation to test embroider, things like the birds and flowers can be broken down into different thread shades and even adding in stitch direction meaning that I know how I'm going to build up the embroidery.  

I think in some ways the internet can make the design process a bit lazy, it's without a doubt a great tool but it's important to get out and about and put you own twist on what your drawing and designing.

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?

Yeah it's a tricky one. For my own work I would always rather share and take that risk, it's only when I put it out there that I can gauge if there's an interest. That said, some projects I've had to start limiting what I share on social media and have a totally separate portfolio that's not made public. My interior collaboration EvA with Amelia is kept more under wraps, when we show clients our samples they want them to be exclusive and unseen. I've noticed the occasional account with similarities to my work, but I personally try not to dwell on it as its hard to take ownership of a subject matter and I'd rather use my energy towards starting something new. There can also sometimes be synchronicity between designers, not so much copying but more common themes and fashions that are circulating . Designers will  always be influenced by their environment  and fellow artists ,  there is of course a big difference between being influenced and producing a straight copy.

One thing that does bug me is people re-posting without crediting the original artist , but again it's hard to have control over these things, it's one of the downsides to having your work online.

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

Work hard, be original, don't be scared of striking up conversation with other designers & collaborate - collaborating is one of the best ways of testing your medium out with someone's else's field of expertise!  I've always worked lots of small part time jobs at once,  I enjoy the change and challenge of making things works, no two weeks are ever the same for me. It does takes a lot of work to carve your own path in this industry but its more than worth it to do a job you love.

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

I'm mainly focused around Instagram so here's some of my favourite accounts:

Mara Hoffman , Dries Van Noten  & C_l_o are all great for colour inspiration, I also really love Dries Van Notens embellishment. 

For textile inspiration Lorna Doyle & Mijo Studio  both produce really beautiful work using interesting techniques  and I love Richard Quinn's amazing floral on floral pieces.

Freehand machine embroiderers Jill de Burca & Emily Potter - Jill mixes embroidery with embellishment into her womenswear collections and Emily works with freehand machine embroidery too. Both worth checking out.

I really like Jodie Ruffles hand embroidery for her interesting approach in focusing attention on the reverse side of her work.

Hand embroiderer Mother Eagle is self taught and so skilful, love the way she groups her collections.

Couture inspiration - Alexander Mcqueen & Josep Font and I love the artist Unskilled Worker, her work's stunning.

Craft With Conscience: Mar Cerdà

Sarah Benning

Mar Cerdà // Paper Artist // Barcelona

Mar is a paper artist working out of the Gràcia neighborhood of Barcelona, Spain. Meticulously cutting paper into miniature 3-dimensional forms, she creates entire scenes and landscapes that somehow captivate the imagination but fit into the palm of your hand. Her work seamlessly straddles the line between craft and fine art, with reference to film and popular culture, it can be cute and clever, but always delicate and beautiful.

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

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?

Internet,  or more specifically, Instagram, plays an important role in my professional life. Not only do I have the opportunity to sneak into someone else's studio and discover new artists and keep up with an art galleries' news but I'm able to show my art process as well, like a studio visit.

I love the process of my work, so Instagram is a good place to share this with others, not only the final piece.

For me, social media is a good tool to see a direct response to my work from the audience. I see what it is that they like more or less, what connects better with the public, what messages are more well understood and I learn from my own work through their view. Having so many followers around the world has taught me a lot and has put me in contact with some great costumers and clients.

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

I find inspiration in so many places. One of my main inspirations is cinema, of course. But also my city and other cities I've been.

I usually work with images I've found of frames from films or photos that I've taken while walking around some cities (I would be mortified to admit how many photos I take on my travels!) Google images is a great way of finding images as well as Pinterest to find and organize inspirational images I want to use. People can follow me on Pinterest, but I don't use it as social media really.

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?

I haven't found other people working on copies of my work yet. I've found people trying to reproduce something similar, in their own way, perhaps as a personal project and as a craft idea. That kind of "copy" makes me so honored, as they tag me and show me they work inspired by mine and it's a very humbling feeling, to be able to inspire others.

But I guess finding an artist working and selling real copies of my work would be hard, I'm not sure how I would deal with it. It would also strike to my insecurities, for sure.

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

The key is passion, to find the things that come from your heart and make you passionate about. If you love what you are doing then it’s more likely than the audience will love it too, more than if you try to imitate some other artists because they are having success or what they do is awesome. One can’t imitate someone else’s passion.

Everyone is different and we need to find the thing that makes us different and show it. The world is big enough for everybody so you have to find your place on it and don’t despair when you get a lot of “no”, it’s only that you are not knocking at the right door, at the right place. You need to keep learning, keep practicing and knock new doors.

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

I love to visit the blogs of The Jealous Curator (and listen to her great podcasts of conversations with artists), This is Colossal and Artistic Moods.

And as an Instagram addict I love to follow talented artists as @AlyssaMees, @MabGraves, @KelseyJBeckett, @BaotPham, @RebeccaGreenIllustration, the paper artist @AllieMayKiphuth, @Ollanski, @HattieNewman, some paper collectives as @StrictlyPaperArt and @PaperArtistCollective, and of course yours, Sarah!

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Craft With Conscience: Emillie Ferris

Sarah Benning

Emillie Ferris // Illustrator // Leamington Spa, U.K.

Emillie is a self-taught illustrator based in England. After completing her studies at University in 2015 she pursued a creative career in Embroidery, which she fell in love with during her 2nd year of study. After finding success through the social media platform Instagram, she has been able to embroider an assortment of pet portraits and woodland animals full-time. Emillie hopes to expand her business by embroidering people in the future, hosting workshops & taking part in fairs & exhibitions.

Check out more of her amazing work at 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 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 could rave about the Internet for days! I believe it's so important to take a step back and just admire what it's done for so many of us who have found their business through it. It was through the Internet as a young girl that I started to look at other people’s artwork (mostly through deviantart) I believe I was probably googling fanart for books I was reading at the time, and I remember it would blow me away looking at how people had used their imagination to bring the characters to life <3 At this age (around 11) The idea that illustrators like Quentin Blake illustrated for their adult jobs was so out of reach to me, it sounded so fun and perfect that I  think I convinced myself from that point that when I was a grown up there was no way I could do that! I always kept drawing, and expressing myself creatively though (mostly through photography) and it wasn't until I was 19 that I found the medium of Embroidery. Now, you may have heard of this amazing platform called Instagram ;) but this creative community just worked wonders for me! It's like you go to work and all of your colleagues are there, but they are also creating their own awesome work, and alongside that they are encouraging you with yours! So, through the Internet I've been able to follow my little girl dreams to 'draw when I'm older'.  I’d say it has had an extremely positive impact on my life!

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

I'm really drawn to creating images of British wildlife, and I think growing up in the Suffolk countryside contributed to that. Though it wasn't until I moved to a town for University that I found myself wanting to keep in touch with these roots, and voila, My woodland embroidery hoops started! I work mainly from reference images which I'll merge and form together in Photoshop until I'm happy that it's matching the vision I wanted :) Social media has definitely altered my design process, due to the amount of requests and emails from my followers, I started to realise there was a huge niche gap in the market for hand embroidered pet portraits! And I thought, hey, why don't I just go for it!

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?

I have found a few examples of people using my literal images on products they were selling abroad without my permission, but I have been fortunate so far to have not seen any actual embroidered copycats of my designs (maybe I haven't looked hard enough). Since I started embroidering pet portraits, there does appear to be this huge influx of people doing the same thing! Don't get me wrong though, I 100% wasn't the first person to think of the idea! Before I went ahead with my first pet portrait I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to step on anyone's toes! The ONLY people I found that did them were Hiroko Kubota and Nichole Lynn Alvarado.  When I saw their embroidery I told myself that I would never ever ever embroider a pet on a shirt pocket like Hiroko. This is her own distinct style, and despite people emailing me to see if I could, I always turn them down and point them in her direction :) Nichole has her own style for her portraits too, hers are very fun and a little more abstract as she uses more strands of embroidery thread than myself. Stitching Sabbatical started her pet portraits around the same month I did I think! Haha :) there are a few slight copycats now, but luckily due to the detail and time I put into my portraits, there luckily hasn't been anyone I've had to confront (just yet!).

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

I'd say get your social media hat on! Learn photography, get a good camera if you can afford one. Most importantly find your style, do what you love, not what you think others will like! Finding your niche can take time, and even now I still don't think I've found my thing yet, but without trying to sound cliche: if you haven't created something you love today, there's always tomorrow!

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

Here are a few I can think of from the top of my head! :) There are definitely more than this, but sometimes I forget their names until I see their insta feeds/website and find myself ogling for hours!

Wildlife artists:

Meadowandfawn

Begoodnatured

Lamblittle

Kelzuiki

Mister finch

Fan art!

Helen green

Peter strain

Oh gosh cindy

Mike Mitchell

heartbeatsclub

Photographers

Rosie hardy

Embroidery artists

Maricor/Maricar

Chloe giordano

Trish burr

Ellie mac embroidery

Stephanie K Clark

Craft With Conscience: Sarah Strickland

Sarah Benning

Sarah Strickland // Illustrator and Designer // Melbourne

Sarah is a illustrator and textile designer living in the creative hub of the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne. She works mainly with gouache on paper and has been painting for as long as she has been able to hold a brush. Sarah's work focusses on close observation of the everyday stuff around her. Lush
colour give her paintings an otherworldly feeling, that seeks to draw the viewer in, so they can calmly observe as well.

Check out her beautiful work through her Instagram or Website.

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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 is probably a much bigger part of my life than I give it credit for. I know that I have had many successes by being able to easily share my work with the world and reach across oceans to people who like what I do. Something I can't even imagine would have been possible for me if I were doing what I do pre digital age.  For someone like me who finds it very hard to actively promote myself, the internet is a wonderfully easy and minimally stressful way to do this as well!

I use the internet everyday to communicate, research and inspire and for all it's pitfalls, it really is an amazing thing.


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

My work is all about observation and spending a lot of time with those inanimate objects that don't often get a lot of attention, so I really try to slow down and just look around the space I'm in for inspiration and draw from life. I often find little scenes that I had never fully appreciated before. I try to honour those objects as best as I can by painting them into a lovely picture! Having said that, I do find images (photos I have taken or images I find) that really resonate with me and I will try to capture the feeling that the image gave me, in a painting.
I use these found images as a base from which to build my own imaginary world.

When it comes to composing the colour within a painting I go through all my collected bits and pieces, wherever I have them stored and try to put together a palette that I find really sings. This is the part I labour over the most, so I will take inspiration from wherever I can!

Having said all that I usually begin my process by scrolling through my very healthy Pinterest and Instagram accounts! Often just looking at the abundance of imagery makes me want to get up and actually create something myself (can also have the reverse effect!). The internet is really a great tool for finding imagery and information you might never have access to, which might spark an idea or help to flesh something out, but it is just a tool. I do try to find inspiration from as diverse a field as possible, I still even go to the library! In the end I want my work to look like I did it, so I really do just treat the internet as a tool, along with my box of paints and brushes.

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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?

Fortunately I have not had to deal too much with copies of my work as an illustrator, which speaks to my level of exposure I think.

In my professional work as a textile designer, I have encountered what I would call a startlingly similar design to something I had done and I think my first reaction was a kind of bemusement! I felt like I was finally a real designer - my design was good enough to be copied!

Levity aside, I am extremely conscious of the murky history of copyright infringement within the textile industry and creative world generally and therefore I work very hard to create unique and original designs. I have no interest in creating something that already exists. I am also lucky enough to work for a brand that really prides itself of on being a unique product so I am never put in an uncomfortable position where I am asked to copy something (which does happen!).

I guess I would also like to add I know how easy it is to subconsciously end up reproducing something - I know I have had to scrap designs altogether when I realised I have done this. Given that we are all looking at the same images on Pinterest and Instagram, we are all fed the same "creative ingredients" if you like. It makes sense that we will be creating very similar recipes. That's why I think it's really important to get away from the screen and find inspiration from the incredible world around us!

At the time I found one of my textile designs being appropriated, the design I had created was no longer for sale so it did not directly impact the business I work for. If this was not the case I think the best approach is to contact the person/business directly and privately. I know this may not always be successful, but I have witnessed a few instances where these feuds have played themselves out on social media and it can turn very ugly. I think this is where knowing your stuff about copyright laws is essential and some public education is definitely needed
here.  

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

My advice is to find your own voice. I think this is an ongoing, work in progress for me, as we are not fixed beings, but I certainly feel much closer to this the more I make. It is what makes the work so satisfying as I am creating my own truth and also I think, what resonates with the world. Your own voice is your greatest asset!

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

I have been following the work of artist Camilla Engman for years and used to religiously read her blogs every week! Now I am more of an Instagram fanatic. I love that I can have a glimpse into the creative worlds of the people I admire, I especially love those that share really interesting insights on how the hell they go about trying to exist as a creative person! I follow way more people than I can ever keep up with, but here are a few accounts that I love;

I love with a passion the work of Miranda July and her Instagram account! Her work is full of humility and nuance and humour.

Deserted in Parisis a wonderful Instagram account by Tal Spiegel who is a pastry chef with an incredible shoe collection, living in Paris. It's no good to look at if you're trying to quit sugar (not me!) but the creations he shows are true works of art! Talk about colour inspiration!

A Floral Frenzy is a rich source of just mind blowing, beautiful floral arrangements. So much colour and beauty to be found here.

I love reading Sight Unseen for staying up to date with what is going on in the design world.


Finally, it's super cheesy, but the most inspiring artists to me are the ones I know as mates, as I have seen their work progress and fly. A great example is my husband! We studied illustration together when we were just babies (pretending to be grown up) and have been each others greatest cheerleaders and critics for the last 14 years. He is a really incredible comic artist whose passion and commitment to his creativity are awe inspiring! I consider myself a lucky person to be able to witness this every day. He sporadically posts to his Instagram
@andy_monstercomics_isaac.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Allyson Rousseau

Sarah Benning

Allyson Rousseau // Fiber Artist // Montreal

Allyson’s work explores the relationship between traditional methods and contemporary design. With each piece, and each new idea, her goal is to express a simple concept of good design by breaking down the design elements; color, shape, texture, space, and form. With this process, she is creating work to push beyond the realm of traditional craft making, with the ultimate goal of contributing a unique and lasting perspective in contemporary Fibre Arts.

Check out her website and scroll through her instagram to see more of her amazing work.

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?

When I began teaching myself how to weave back in late 2013, there were very limited resources available for self-teaching (on the internet, and elsewhere). Ironically though, the first woven art pieces that I discovered and that inspired me to learn how to weave were found on the internet. I could just sense that weaving was about to explode back into focus and have a huge impact on the practice of contemporary fibre artists.

Flash forward to 2017, and the resources are now very accessible, all over the internet, published in contemporary how-to’s, blogs, and new weavers are born every day through the facilitation of workshops held all over the world (and online!). It has been a really wild and insightful experience to have begun my practice sort of at the “start” of this new wave of weaving, and see how quickly it has spread and grown.

For my personal practice, I would say that I have been fortunate to find most of my clients internationally through the exposure and sale of my work on the internet. I started a shop on Etsy a few years ago, and I share most of my work on Instagram with the intent of reaching a large and broad viewership. So that is to say that the internet has a tremendous role and impact on my work. The possibilities for creation become endless when you open your work up to the whole world, and I think it has helped put me on the path to succeeding in certain goals that I have for my work.

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

I do my best to avoid the work of other weavers (which is maybe easier said than done) and the internet altogether actually, and instead take my inspiration from areas of my physical life. I am curiously interested in the good design of everyday objects and environments, and I think that a lot of my inspiration manifests itself subconsciously through various media that I absorb from my surroundings.

Social media has impacted my design process in the ways that I protect my work. As soon as you post an image or share an idea on the internet, you lose a certain percentage of ownership simply because others can take inspiration from that work and you lose control of how it is shared. So I think it has made me aware and cautious of what I post, and I try to share only completed ideas that are uniquely my own.

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?

I have yet to discover outright copying of my designs (and I hope that I never do…) but I have dealt with a number of instances where my style and designs have been appropriated in others’ work. I think that it is becoming increasingly difficult to brand myself as an artist, when there are so many weavers out there, and it can be discouraging to feel like one, in a sea of many.

The line that lies between “craft” and “art” is very thin. For some, weaving is a hobby craft, or an outlet to feel a sense of “place” in a community, and for others it is their art form, their chosen medium to produce thoughtful and contemporary fibre art. I categorize myself within the latter distinction, and feel I am constantly standing up for my work to keep it in that category- in the eyes of its viewers.

The way I can make sense of it simply, is that you would never ask an artist outright for their tips on how to achieve a certain technique in a painting…with the intent to do the same in your own work, for example. Art and Artists demand(s) a certain level of respect, and I find that because there are so many weaves out there, the vast majority of it automatically falls into the craft category…wherein people are comfortable copying techniques, and approaching other weavers for their tips and tricks. The line is made even thinner when you are trying to separate your woven artwork from the “hobby craft”, when weaving is after all a craft!

My strategies for dealing with instances of possible infringement issues are still a work in progress I think. The more of a following I accumulate, the more I learn about my own process for sharing work on the internet. I want to maintain engagement with my followers, and I wholeheartedly appreciate their interest in my work, absolutely! After all I am sharing it on the internet, so that it can be seen. But I think that dealing with any such situation requires respect and awareness on both ends, and maybe I need to adjust the ways in which I brand myself as an artist in order to receive the respect that I wish to have for my work. One way in which I can do so would be to stray away from Etsy as my shop platform- because Etsy is notoriously known and used for crafters.

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

The best advice I can give, taken from my own experience is to be original. Create unique, and thoughtful work. You’ll never be able to please everyone, but staying true to your own style will give you leverage in what can be a very competitive field. Don’t sell yourself short. Make sure that your pricing fairly pays for your time and the quality of work that you produce. If a client really loves your work, they will pay the price. This is something that I have learned in dealing with customized work, and knowing when you might be dealing with somebody who is shopping around for the cheapest price.

Respect others and work hard!

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

I’m not a big blog person, but this is a good opportunity to share the IG account of the artist that first inspired me to learn to weave: @bymimijung, and on that note I recently came across fibre artist @britt_wilkins who coincidentally explores very similar elements of shape and form in her work.

I love the illustrative work of @martinapaukova, @karl_joel_irsn, and @atelier_bingo. Artist @micahlexier has a great eye and style for shapes, lines, forms, design, and found objects.

When I am looking for a laugh or a dog I turn to @napkinapocalypse.

All images courtesy of the artist.