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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: Mariana Baertl of Living Fibers

Sarah Benning

Mariana Baertl // Fiber Artist // Lima Peru/NYC


Hi! My name is Mariana Baertl and I'm the creator and artist behind Living Fibers. I was born and raised in Lima, Peru’s capital, surrounded by the countries’ traditional handmade trades, specially textile work.

I studied Fashion Design in Peru and later moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina to focus on Coolhunting, the study of “trends” and how it relates specifically to the fashion industry. I then moved to Barcelona, Spain to begin my work in Haute Couture and pattern making. My Haute Couture education taught me the level of patience and precision needed in creating handmade designs. Thereafter I got a post graduate degree in Fashion Business management from Pompeu Fabra University, in Barcelona. As soon as I graduated, I moved back to Lima, Peru to work as a fashion designer for a large retailer in Lima. It was at this company where I started experimenting with textures and textiles. I was soon in love with the art and began making fiber art pieces whenever I could find the time. After several years as a fashion designer, I decided to make a change and immerse myself into the fiber world.


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

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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 impacted my work and career tremendously. I would’ve never started pursuing fiber art if it weren’t for social media. It opened my eyes as to how much you can create and express with fibers and how many artist have taken textiles as their medium. Social media has completely changed the art world and more importantly, it has changed how people are buying art and discovering artists. Best of all, it is a free platform where you can showcase your work and reach demographics that normally would be out of your reach. For example, when I first began fiber art in Peru and created my Instagram account, I started getting a following from supporters around the world, not just from Peru, which would have been almost impossible for me to do without social media. Through Instagram and other social media platforms, I gained instant validation for my art and received direct feedback immediately. You quickly learn what people are looking for and what they like.

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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 get my inspiration from all things natural and organic, often influenced by what I call “natural clusters”, which are various organic elements tightly arranged. An example of these natural clusters would be feathers, fossils or vegetation from a forest/dense tropical jungle. The ocean is also a major source of inspiration; from the shapes waves create to the marine life like coral reefs, I find the ocean to be full of details.

I usually get inspired and imagine concepts at night. Strange enough, I tend to be more creative in the evening when I’m tired. I feel that night time is when my mind is more relaxed, flexible and open for innovation. The next morning is really when I start the creative process with a simple sketch, and then I go right for the canvas. I need to see the fibers and feel them on canvas to start working. Usually my finished project ends up becoming something completely different from what I envisioned in that original sketch.

The internet definitely helps the creative process. Being able to see what other artists are making can be inspiring, which is a huge motivator. I always want to better myself and improve my work. Seeing other artist’s work online helps me do that and allows me to really think outside the box.

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

I’ve always loved textures and fibers, I studied fashion design so I’ve been surrounded by textiles most of my life. A few years ago, while working full time as a denim designer I started playing and creating with fibers. I made my own wooden loom and started weaving tapestries first in pastel colors and then I ventured into more detailed embroideries with bright colors and shiny textures, the complete opposite! I always remember that time as my “trial run”, when I was still discovering my own aesthetic and could experiment as much as I wanted with different techniques, colors, and styles. I loved weaving and embroidering equally so I started thinking of ways to integrate both in a single piece. So I came up with this technique where I embroider fiber onto a canvas, imitating a tapestry. It has the freedom in shape that embroidery gives you, but with the additional feel and volume of a weaved piece.

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

I’ve been lucky enough to never have encountered an artist that takes my work as more than inspiration, so I’ve never had to deal with it. But I guess if I ever come across the situation, I would try to  stay positive and keep on creating and evolving. You  are always going to be two steps ahead of someone who is copying your work. So if you were creative enough to invent it, you are creative enough to produce more unique ideas.

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

Be true to your style. The internet helps you discover how much you can do. So many different outcomes can be achieved from a single technique or style, which can also distract you from finding your own creative voice. When you get too influenced by someone else’s aesthetic and try to imitate their work, it only serves you as a barrier. It’s like following a set of rules and parameters that will only help to repress your imagination and silence your own creative journey. Experiment and play as much as you can. Once you find your own voice, you’ll feel the creative possibilities are endless.

Additionally, practice is key, and there’s always a way to improve yourself. No one is born a master at something, the only way to become one is to create and create. Make mistakes and experiment, even if the piece is becoming something you don’t like. Never get discouraged if a project is not coming out as planned, every failure is an experience and lesson.

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

Some of my favorite fiber artists are @_jujujust_ , @crossingthreads, @himoart @vanessabarragao_work, @salt_stitches; I truly feel they have their own unique take on the medium. 

I also love to see what others are doing. A great Instagram account to discover artists is @thefiberstudio

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All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Emily Wright of Salt Stitches

Sarah Benning

Emily Wright of Salt Stitches // Embroidery Artist // Manchester UK


Emily creates abstract embroidery works with a strong focus on natural textures. Her work to date is inspired by the rugged coastline of North Wales, UK. Her works are a direct response to her photography, focusing on geological variations and plant life found near the sea.

Check out more of her amazing work on Instagram, Facebook and her Etsy page

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

For me, the Internet has opened me up to a fantastic community of likeminded creatives - both for support and constructive criticism. I find it easier to ask for creative advice from Internet strangers, as it feels less personal and more direct. As far as professional life, it has given me a platform to showcase my work and test the waters so to speak. I’d say 90% of my sales are online so it’s invaluable to me! I actually struggle a lot with imposter syndrome so there is definitely a downside to having easy access to incite creative accounts across all the different platforms, often finding myself comparing my work to others in a negative way. I think ultimately it’s about balance - one instance springs to mind where you would get people commenting on your work, tagging their friends, talking about how they could produce this piece or that piece easily, which can always feel like a blow to the stomach!

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

My inspiration has solely developed from my surroundings. North Wales has become a haven for me in recent months, and that is definitely reflected in my work. Since the inception of Salt Stitches, my pieces have all been a direct response to images of one particular place but having spent a few weeks in Switzerland and having been able to hunt for different textures, I’m really excited about the next batch of new works. It will be interesting, for me, to see if I enjoy the process in the same way or whether somehow they feel less personal? I’m not sure the Internet has impacted my design process too much, although I do find it handy to be able to ask an impartial audience about introducing new products etc. None of this started off as a business for me, I was creating these pieces as a method of self-care, then there was interest, and the rest was history as they say!

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

To be honest, that’s been a tough journey for me. I didn’t pursue a creative path early on because I didn’t feel I would succeed. I was pushed academically from an early age and was taught that following an artistic route was a waste of time (how wrong everyone was 15 years ago!!)  but the last 6 months have been really crazy as far as my self confidence is concerned. I also think I’ve had an easier ride than others, I’m incredibly privileged to have had both financial and emotional support from my family, so I’ve had the time to focus on myself and my work full-time. I know that’s not a luxury that a lot of people have, so I try to be as accessible as possible to anyone that needs help and advice with their own creative journey.

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

It a problem that I think we all have to face at some point. I think in one sense, I’m lucky that my work is quite niche and unusual - along with the fact my pieces take a long time to create - I almost feel like if someone else is willing to put the long hours in they’re almost welcome to walk that line (probably an unpopular opinion I know). I have seen a couple of artists in the last few weeks where I can see obvious similarities, some of my lovely followers seem to send me profiles to look at, but I don’t go hunting for copies. If they’re out there, then I’m blissfully ignorant.

I do find it difficult watching creatives that I admire struggle with blatant theft with designs, but at the same time, I see some artists who create PDF patterns and DIY kits that definitely make it easier for people to infringe on their work. It’s a tough one. I’m definitely a staunch supporter of the community over competition ethos. If someone is copying you’re work, maybe they’re struggling creatively, although that’s not a free pass, approaching people from a place of advice might help to change people’s view?

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

That first leap is scary, I quit my job at a really low point and Salt Stitches emerged as a result, but I wouldn’t recommend the “jumping in at the deep end approach”. It can be incredibly stressful and our brains have a funny way of confusing totally normal worries like money and time, with feelings of low self worth or losing faith in what you’re creating.

If it’s something that you love, throw yourself into it in your free time. Trust yourself, be proud of your work, and have belief that the hard work will pay off (even if it might take a while!) you get out what you put in.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, you’ll be surprised at how willing other creatives will be to offer advice and support if you’re struggling.

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

Emma and her account @potyertitsawayluv are incredible. She is living her philosophy of body positivity and inclusion, and it’s been so lovely to watch her success grow and grow. Same for Lou Foley with her project @arewenearlybareyet, I haven’t quite worked up the courage to submit a nude, but with every one she posts I get a little bit closer!

Absolutely and utterly inspired every day by Stacey and her account @bystaceyjones. She donates a % of every sale to Sarcoma UK to raise awareness after dealing with her Husband’s diagnosis, she is such a huge supporter of fellow creatives and an overall hero of mine.

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Corrie Beth Hogg + Tutorial!

Sarah Benning

Corrie Beth Hogg // Paper Artist // Brooklyn, NY


Corrie Beth Hogg is a lifelong maker. She is currently crafting realistic plants out of paper, and has recently published a book on the subject entitled ‘Handmade Houseplants: Remarkably Realistic Plants You Can Make with Paper’ . Corrie has long been inspired by nature, from growing up near a national park to a season spent working the fields at an organic farm, she has always strived to integrate the natural world into her creative process. She studies plants, interpreting their visual signatures and details into digestible, clear steps, showing those with even the blackest of thumbs how to recreate them with paper.

Check out her book as well as her amazing work at HandmadeHouseplants.com and her Instagram.

 Photo Credit: Christine Han

Photo Credit: Christine Han

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

Like so many of us, I use the internet daily, both in my day job as an art director and in my personal studio practice. It’s so ingrained now, it’s hard to remember life before. In college I kept a lot of scrap books and sketch books. I filled them with things I cut out from Art in America and National Geographic, not so I could copy what I saw, but so I could remember why I liked it. I use the internet much the same way. And, it’s so much easier now to find and share the things you like. I certainly don’t miss loading slide carousels.

 Photo Credit: Christine Han

Photo Credit: Christine Han

 Photo Credit: Christine Han

Photo Credit: Christine Han

 Photo Credit: Christine Han

Photo Credit: Christine Han

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

I live about a ten-minute walk from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and I am there nearly every weekend, taking pictures of plants and gaining inspiration. I love to get close-up images (just with my phone) of where branches connect or how a plant changes right where it’s about to go into the soil. I also use Pinterest to save images of plants. I scour the internet, searching garden-center websites, seed catalogs, botanical garden sites, searching for photos of the plants I love and want to make from paper. I save them all and reference it often when I sit down to craft. Of course, I love Instagram too. And, I’m sure as many people have said when they answer this question, I love the people I’ve connected with and the small community I’m a part of. But, I don’t love the competitive nature of it. I have to make a continuous conscious effort to not care about likes and follows. It can get toxic and unhealthy quick, so I strive to stay positive about it. I do appreciate how Instagram is like a portfolio, there for anyone to see and so easy to update. Unlike a website, that someone would actively have to be looking for, on Instagram someone can just stumble upon you or you, them. That’s great!

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

Trial and error and persistence … or stubbornness! I’ve always known I wanted to be an artist and began making dolls, painting, and quilting when I was just eight years old. Throughout my creative life, I’ve always just followed my nose. If I wanted to make fabric sculptures, I learned how to translate what I envisioned into 3D soft forms. If I was interested in making musical instruments, I learned how to use a lathe and a planer. I spent a few years making collages, painting, photographs; I’m always spending time in the studio, working on something. I made my dining table and bedroom furniture because I thought it would be more fun and rewarding to make it than to buy it. That’s how I got into making paper plants … I simply wanted a fiddle leaf fig for my living room, where there is not enough light, so I made one from paper. That was four years ago, and I’ve been making paper plants ever since!

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

I have only seen my images used without credit given a few times. It’s a drag and is a real disappointment. I usually write to them and ask that they credit me. That is typically enough to get it changed. As far as outright copying, I haven’t seen too much of it, and it’s harder to police, especially in my medium. There is a long history of paper flower making and with many artists in the field, it’s not that surprising if other people are doing similar things as me. Paper plants are a natural progression from paper flowers, but I have my way of doing it and my way of photographing them that is unique! There is one instance that comes to mind. At my job, I frequently create content for online. And, through the magic of social media… I discovered one of my ideas was copied by none other than the Kardashians! (Or, more likely, whomever works for them… but even still, I laughed for a few days!) Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

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

Well, I still have a day job, so I don’t know that I’m qualified to give business advice. But, I will say, and this is true for my job and my own work… search for inspiration everywhere, not just from people who are making similar art as you. I find that experiences fuel me: music, museums, movies. I can spend an afternoon just looking at Victorian patterns, or simply learning about the tools graffiti artists use. Stepping outside of my box or routine sets off new synapses in my brain. They say inspiration “hits” you … but to me, it’s more accurately described as you put on your best cleats, your cap, and you’re carrying your favorite bat, ‘cause you’re ready to “hit” it. I don’t really know anything about baseball, that’s just my cheesy way saying… don’t sit back and wait for it to happen, nor should you try to play exactly like anyone else. You’ll have the most success if you’re not trying to be the next Babe Ruth, but if you’re only ‘borrowing’ how he positioned his left big toe, and the rest is all you. Be inspired by a lot of things, learn what you like, then take as many swings as you can! Thank you for humoring my mixed (baseball) metaphor. I’d also like to add… you just have to be brave. It’s ok to be scared to fail, or scared even to succeed, just keep going! (I have to give myself this same pep talk weekly!)

 Photo Credit: Christine Han

Photo Credit: Christine Han

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

On Instagram, I love to see what Aviva Rowley is doing. I also like looking at Cabana Magazine, Lili Arnold, Mike Schultz, Robbie Honey, Mona Chalabi (I love her so much), Cutter Brooks Shop, Botticelli Ceramics, and Rosie Li, who makes super cool lights!

 Photo Credit: Christine Han

Photo Credit: Christine Han

 Photo Credit: Christine Han

Photo Credit: Christine Han

 Photo Credit: Christine Han

Photo Credit: Christine Han

 Photo Credit: Christine Han

Photo Credit: Christine Han


Paper Squash Vine Tutorial!


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I fell in love with squash and cucumber vines during the summer I spent on the farm, I love their large, deeply folded, vibrant green leaves and curly tendrils! It’s a shame the leaves fade and wilt as the fruit starts to mature. So, why not suspend that special moment in time with PAPER? I made a large plant here … but you could, in less time, craft a single vine for a stunning statement piece in a vase. Happy crafting!

-Corrie


Tools and Supplies:

A. Pot or vase of your choice

B. Foam and craft knife to cut the foam

C. Gravel of your choice

D. Small spray bottle and containers for paint and glue

E. Yellow and green acrylic paint (to mix your own, or just a bright green)

F. Bone folder and pencil

G. Wire cutters

H. 18-gauge green and 20-gauge light green straight floral wire, 1/8” armature wire, green floral tape

I. Scissors, X-Acto knife, cutting mat

J. Text-weight paper in two bright shades of green

K. Bright-green and yellow gel pens

L. Aleene’s quick-dry tacky glue

M. Paint brush, skewer, or other small round objects

N. Small flat brush to apply glue

O. PDF templates

P. Ruler (optional)


Step 1:

Mix yellow and blue paint together to create a light-green color. Liberally mix the paint with water until it has a runny consistency.

Fill the spray bottle with the watered-down acrylic paint mixture.

Then, use the spray bottle to add a mist of green spray across each sheet of light-green paper. Once dry, repeat on the other side.

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Step 2:

Using the templates provided, trace and cut out the leaves. Use the medium and small templates for the light-

green painted paper and the largest template with the darker green paper. Next, using the scraps, cut paper

strips, one for each leaf, matching the color of the leaf. The strips should be approximately 2- 3” long by 3/4”

wide. We’ll use these in step 4.

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Step 3:

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1. Fold the leaf along the centerline.

2. Approximately 1.5” from the tip of the leaf, fold a 45° angle.

3. Fold another 45° angle approximately 1” below the first.

4. Add a third 45° angle fold, starting at the center crevice of the leaf.

5. Unfold the three 45° angle folds and fold the bottom portion up at an approximate 75° angle, also starting at the center crevice of the leaf.

6. Unfold the last fold and add a final 45° angle fold to the bottom portion of the leaf, also starting at the center crevice of the leaf.

7. Press all the folds with a bone folder. Unfold everything and manipulate the creases on the right side of the leaf to fold the other way. Repeat for all the leaves.


Step 4:

Trace the creases, drawing veins with the yellow gel pen on the light-green leaves and the bright-green gel pen with the dark-green leaves.

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Step 5:

Using wire cutters, cut the 18-gauge wire in half. Place a wire along the center of the leafs back and coat

a strip with tacky glue. Cover the wire with the glue-coated strip and secure it in place by running a bone

folder along the contours of the wire. Repeat for all the leaves.

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Step 6:

Create the tendrils by wrapping the 20-gauge wire around a paintbrush handle or skewer. Make sure to leave approximately 3” of the wire straight.

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Step 7:

Uncurl a portion of the armature wire and attach a couple small light-green leaves to the end, along with a tendril, using floral tape.

Move down the wire a few inches and attach a larger leaf. As you work down the length of wire, add more leaves and tendrils, fully covering each connection with floral tape.

If you’ve never used floral tape before, it takes a little getting used to … it’s not sticky like regular tape. The adhesive is released when the tape is stretched.

Pull the tape at an angle, lightly stretching it as you work and wrap it around the wire, pressing it in place as you go.


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Step 8:

Carefully bend each leaf to alternating sides and position the tendrils so they are visible.

Next, fill your pot with foam, making sure it is snug, and cover the foam with the gravel you chose.

Insert the stems into the foam and carefully arrange your plant so that it’s balanced but not perfectly symmetrical. Adjust the angle of the leaves to your liking.

You can find more paper plant tutorials in Handmade Houseplants: Remarkably Realistic Plants You Can Make with Paper!

Handmadehouseplants.com

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You can order Handmade Houseplants Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or IndieBound!

All images provided by the artist.


Craft With Conscience: Adipocere

Sarah Benning

Adipocere // Embroidery Artist // Melbourne, Australia


Adipocere, a self-taught hand embroidery artist, primarily creates their imagery for the therapeutic catharsis evoked through the medium. Their work focuses on displaying what they refer to as emotional self-portraiture while operating within the confines of a constantly developing, overarching fiction, one with small roots in reality but using motifs and symbolism to delineate concepts such as martyrdom, asceticism, existentialism, and the eventuality of death. Adipocere is inspired by their environmental science studies, focusing on misrepresented fauna and the point at which humanity intersects.

Check out more of their amazing work at adipocere.com and on Instagram.

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

As with most, the internet definitely plays a very large and direct role. I have only recently begun to develop local, Australian connections, and even those are entirely through the internet. All networking, artistic relationships and international opportunities were afforded to me by way of social media. I’m very thankful for it.

Furthermore, It has allowed for the large level of personal separation and anonymity I have maintained so far, which although isn’t so important to me now, felt very important to begin with.

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

A lot of my inspiration comes tangibly from literature, snippets of recorded history, philosophical contemplation of life and death, and cats. My ongoing Environmental Science degree has also proven a rich source of inspiration, largely through various flora and fauna studies. I tend to become attached to groups of largely misrepresented fauna like spiders, moths and bats, which appear often as personal motifs.

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If my process changes with social media in mind, it’s completely subconscious. I guess any work-in-progress style documentation feels largely spurred on by social media. It more accommodates an ability to share process or studies which otherwise would not be seen due to their un-exhibitable nature, for someone who does not create via commission.

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

Creativity has always come rather naturally, albeit internalised. More recently, I’ve begun developing a large overarching fiction to link more of my sentiments together. It is a very slow process of constant expansion and looming constraints, carefully avoiding anachronisms. At the end of the day, I’m always trying to verbalise personal feelings through my imagery. This is probably why I find the actual process so cathartic. Each work tends to be a labour of love eked out one stitch at a time. Hand embroidery can feel like a form of introspection when creating what may appear to be rather simple imagery, in such a time consuming fashion. I love the preservation of human-error in what results, often having a voice of its own.

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

That sometimes arbitrary line of inspiration versus infringement is an interesting conversation. I’ve seen blatant infringements, but also uncharitable accusations of being overly inspired. It doesn’t really affect me, honestly. I typically ignore it if I see it. Currently, I solely create work for various galleries, which doesn’t feel so jeopardised via these instances, when compared to how it may affect someone who is working solely via commission, or at a full-time capacity. It’s always great to receive credit for original designs, but I would encourage anyone to come to terms with the inevitability of work being copied, intentionally or otherwise. 

I believe this all plays a part in the art versus craft conversation as well. Casual infringements appear rather commonly within the embroidery medium. Generally, I am not interested in these direct, uninspired forms of fan art from a viewers perspective, and definitely don’t condone re-creating another’s work for monetary gain. That seems terribly immoral.

However, I do fully allow any of my imagery to be committed to skin. I find it interesting how many people have been interested in getting tattoos of my artwork, around 150 that I know of.

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

Be honest. Be yourself.

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

 If, like me, you have a penchant for macabre surrealism or baroque art, I highly recommend the various posting of my good friends @beinartgallery, @beautifulbizarremagazine and @bloodmilk.

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Alison Rachel of Recipes for Self Love

Sarah Benning

Alison Rachel // Illustrator // Amsterdam


Alison Rachel built Recipes for Self Love as an attempt to cut through the excessive damaging media we are exposed to every day and shine light on truths that we all somewhere, somehow know and feel but have perhaps forgotten.

Check out more of her amazing work on Facebook, Instagram, and 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 built my professional life entirely from social media, namely Instagram. I started making zines on the topic of self love and turned to Instagram to promote them. When the account started to gain a lot of attention I realised it's potential and began to understand the need for the kind of content it was creating. For me, artistically, the internet is a double edged sword. I spend a LOT of time on the internet, definitely too much and as much as it's veritable fount of inspiration it's a procrastination demon and I find myself being tricked into thinking I'm being productive by scrolling and 50min later have achieved nothing but stalked illustrators and watched 10 #levelupchallenge videos (no shade I love those videos). Ultimately I feel like my artistic life has suffered having become so involved with working on social media. The internet/social media is an incredible tool and like any its function depends on what you do with it, I'm still figuring out how to live my best life in balance and harmony with social media/the internet.

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

Content-wise I find inspiration from lived experience (being a woman in a patriarchal world)  and from keeping up to date with what's happening around the world in the realm of gender and social justice issues. Aesthetically I rely on the internet and/or social media for inspiration, although I recently started crowd sourcing images from my followers to use as illustrative inspo so that's been fun.

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

I think I'm still in the process of doing so. I'm not really artistically trained but have always had a love for all things art/design. I've dabbled in many creative expressions including printmaking, drawing, painting, embroidery, textile design and graphic art. Since I was a teen I have always loved working with my hands and creating. Having been working predominantly digitally over the past two years or so I have neglected the hand made, and I miss it dearly. My next goal is to revisit the hand made so in the coming months I will be re-visiting some old mediums and perhaps trying out some new ones.

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

It happens alllll the time haha. There's not much one can do about it (I think) if someone has any ideas of how to better deal with infringement I'm all ear. I suppose we can't help but be influenced by what we see and I think there's nothing wrong with some healthy cross-pollination. It can be a little frustrating to see elements of one's work being blatantly mimicked but at the end of the day if your work is original, nobody can truly copy what you do (unless they are actually copying in which case get mad). But I honestly feel that it's helpful to not be too concerned with how others may draw inspiration from your work, keep doing what you're doing, it's obviously good enough for people to want to imitate and that's proverbially the sincerest form of flattery.

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

Social media is an amazing tool that's free and easy and powerful so don't sleep on it! If you believe in your work/craft, stay committed to it and I mean really committed like post every single day. Back yourself, when you speak highly of your work others believe you (and you start to too).

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

I love people who are not bound by the constraints of one particular art form or category like @penelopegazin who is a clothing and accessories designer, e-commerce entrepreneur, visual artist, drummer in a garage-rock band and all around pee-in-your-pants-hilarious person. Similarly @tactilematter approaches multiple different mediums with such a strong aesthetic sensibility that it I find inspiring. I also love the works of @manjitthap, it's so lovely and unique.

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All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Vanessa Barragão

Sarah Benning


Vanessa Barragão // Textile Artist // Porto, Portugal


The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world. In almost every process chemicals are used, especially when it comes to the fibers treatment and dyeing. All the machinery used requires tons of energy while producing a lot of waste and disposable trash. It is extremely harmful for our world and it affects all of its different natural environments, particularly the ocean which absorbs 90% of the atmospheric pollution, warming itself up to the point that so many species get threatened.  Coral reefs, which sustain so many other creatures, is one of the most endangered.

Vanessa believes in an upcycling effort towards the right way to fight against the kind of negative mindset described above. All of the materials used come from the dead-stock from several local factories which is first cleaned and then selected to recycle and reuse in her projects. Her production is completely artisanal and handmade by using ancestral techniques, like latch hook, felt, knitting, macrame and crochet, to create her artworks inspired by the coral reefs.

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

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

 

As you say, the internet is an enormous and diversified universe. For me, I cannot say that is the best way to show my art work, because I believe that being in the same space and time of my work, being able to see, touch and feel it, is the best way to contemplate and understand the vision and message present in art. Even so, I must admit that the internet is a faster way to promote my work and myself as an artist, and, besides that, it's the most efficient way to do it on a large scale, understanding its power of reaching thousands of different people, all over the world, in a short space of time. As a verdict of my experience, Instagram was the "boom" for my art disclosure, even though I had started with Pinterest and Facebook, during my master degree in Fashion Design
in 2015. I never expected to reach so many people and to spread my work throughout the world, and when I sold my first piece of art, on Instagram, I was shocked, in a good way, and that gave me more reasons and will to keep going and keep working hard for my purpose.

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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 was younger, I used to travel with my family through different countries and continents. Every time we visited Caribbean countries or more exotics and natural places, we always tried to dive into those beautiful waters full of life and colors. And those memories are my biggest and strongest inspiration. The feeling of being overwhelmed by those creatures, being an unknown and small living being in those universes, feeling the need to see those colors, finding out more and being surrounded by that life, are some of the feelings that I remember and that I keep in my memory and heart.

But time flies really fast and my memories are not as clear as they were back then, and that is where Internet comes into my design process, since I can search and find out different images of the deep sea. If I lived somewhere where I could dive easily, it would be really amazing, but since that is something really hard to do, diving into the internet is the only way to revive those memories. Besides that, looking through different photos and videos of complex structures of coral reefs, different creatures, and different seas etc. has helped me to get even more ideas!

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

I use to say that I came from a family of artists: my grandmothers are knitters and do a lot of crochet, my maternal grandfather and my father are really skillful people and wood artisans, my grandmother used to paint and she is a knitter and a crochet maker too. So, since my childhood, I was in contact with artisanal techniques and different types of art work, that helped my artistic abilities and influenced me as an artist. Besides that, I always loved and cared a lot about art and, since I always show that interest, my parents always supported and motivated me to follow my dreams and my artistic vain. After so many years of studies, so many experimentations with different types of art, such as painting and sculpture, in order to discover what I really like to do, I finally found out my own way to express myself. I was studying my for masters degree in Fashion Design, when I met and got in touch with the wool process and the art of making textiles. And then, when I started to explore more about it, I started to discover, at the same time, myself and my essence as an artist, creating my own language, my creative voice.

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

Those are some complicated and sad moments, and, unfortunately it has already happened to me. In my opinion, and being aware of human nature and the way we act and feel, I believe that when someone tries to copy a piece of art, the reason for that action is the need or desire to feel the accomplishment of something wonderful. As an artist, I do my art because it's the right way to express my feelings and my visions. If someone tries to copy one of my works, even if it hurts me, I understand that it may have not been to cause me harm, but maybe it was an attempt to admire my work or even to try to see what I see.

Even so, I believe that copying is not an honored action, and each one of us must be able to create our own unique artistic language in order to express ourselves and be faithful to our own essence.

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

Yes, of course. Even if we all are different and unique, having our own ways to act, feel and live, there are some tips and pieces of advice that transcend those differences. First of all, I believe that the most important thing is finding your own goal. When we have a really well defined goal, even if we are going through some rough times, the path to follow or the future actions to take will be much easier to decide, since we will always take in account the ultimate purpose. Then, I believe that it is really important to find out the best way to accomplish that end. And it may take some time, and we may miss, fall or even loose some battles, but at the end we will find out our true selves and our own "language".  After that, the dedication, the capability to keep fighting after a loss, the patience and the power of staying faithful to our selves and to our own beliefs, are some crucial points to our own business or art work, but also are what will help us define our selves and the uniqueness in our art.

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

 I follow a lot of coral accounts and one of my favorite is @coralmorphologic , and artists I love are @lizanfreijsen, an amazing textile artist and a big person, and @crossingthreads

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Carmen Mardónez

Sarah Benning

Carmen Mardónez // Embroidery Artist // Los Angeles, CA


Carmen Mardónez is a Chilean artist currently living in Los Angeles, California. Her work is focused on exploring how to convey movement, color, and lights through hand embroidery, finding inspiration in Northern Lights, and Telescope captures. In Chile, she worked as volunteer and professional in prisons and local governments, whereas her artwork was a personal search. Since arriving in Los Angeles, she is completely dedicated to embroidery.

You can find more of Carmen’s work on her website and Instagram.

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

I belong to a generation that takes the Internet for granted. In my personal life, from shopping to reading the news, from collaborating and working with other people to watching movies, I’m connected most of the time. All the more now that I’m far from my family and friends, so I use the Internet to feel close to them. In my work as an artist this is not different. Artists, in order to their art to be pertinent and meaningful, have to live in their own time. This doesn’t mean to be naive, but not archaizing either.

The Internet is not just the channel to share my work, but a place in which I can be connected to and interact with hundreds of artists from different places in the world. Of course, it has some drawbacks too. Sometimes I feel discouraged after seeing a lot of incredible artists, wondering if my own work would reach that point anytime. Other times I feel disappointed when I see other people stealing my work and attributing to their own. I’m also convinced of the value of face-to-face interaction with people, and of the direct encounter with art when possible, which could sense pretty obvious but it is not always the case. However, I really enjoy the possibility of sharing ideas and creations with people that otherwise would be too far to contact, and getting inspiration from online sources.

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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’m currently working on a Northern Lights series and starting to embroider space landscapes captured by telescopes (particularly the Hubble). I have never seen Northern Lights (yet), and I have not seen a Black Hole or a Supernova (I hope this never happen face to face!). But I can have access to all those images just because of the Internet, and especially through Instagram accounts from travelers and scientific teams sharing their explorations and searches for knowledge.

In fact, social media was also important in my rediscovery of embroidery, not just as a craft technique and a set of rules (as I learned it when I was a child), but as a tool for artistic expression. It was on Facebook, probably in 2015, where I encountered the work of Victor Espinoza, and I got captivated. In creating my artwork, I enjoy working with the colors itself, more than images, drawings, and figures. However, painting in my house was too dirty to have a constant practice. The work of Victor allowed me to discover the threads as an artistic mean, realizing that I can actually “paint” with them, with freedom and at the same time cleanliness.

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

I believe that my artistic voice has been present during my life in different ways, although most of the time as a “B side”, complimenting my more intellectual or rational occupations. My more artistic side took prevalence as a mental health necessity some years ago. In the midst of a really hard time when writing my master’s thesis in psychology and intensive work in prisons of Santiago, Chile, I turned to the arts for inner equilibrium. The starting point was a couple of meetings with Victor, where he showed me some of his artwork and his way of working. After that, it was just a matter of experimenting and let the threads and movement to flow.

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

It just happened to me a few days ago, my sister found an Instagram account with a Northern Light embroidery using not only the same technique as me but even the same picture and detail of one of my artworks, without citing me or the original photographer. I confront the person and she only said “it came completely out of my imagination”, which is really hard to believe. I feel frustrated and in some way abused. I have worked so hard to figure out how to best represent the Aurora, and then someone comes and say “I just tried and this came out”. It is only a matter of recognizing your inspiration and all would be just fine. At first I thought that maybe I should make harder-to-reproduce pieces, but in the end, one should just do what one wants to express, I guess, without being influenced by how other people can misuse your artwork. I'm still thinking about how to protect my future creations.

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

The most important thing that I constantly remind myself of is to wait for inspiration, but just be working and experimenting. The inspiration will eventually come, but as someone said, it should find you working.

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

Ana Teresa Barbosa 

Victor Espinoza 

Mónica Bengoa

Alexandra Kehayoglou 

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All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Justyna Wołodkiewicz

Sarah Benning

Justyna Wołodkiewicz // Embroidery Artist // Poland


Justyna Wołodkiewicz is a Polish artist specializing in 3 dimensional embroidery. Taking inspiration from her surroundings as well as a strong awareness of her own creative process, she uses vibrant colors and breadth of contrasting textures and shapes to create a finished piece that is both technically complicated and incredibly whimsical. 

Check out more of her amazing work on Instagram and her website nibyniebo.com

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

The internet definitely widened my horizons. Simply by observing and reading between the lines I got an impression that making a living out of art is possible. Then I tried to walk the way of an artist who wants to sell her art. And it’s been the last year (2017) that I’ve been noticed. That opened the door to selling and what is next is unknown. I’m figuratively standing in the doorway making my mind. I feel my life is shifting.

I know and experience addictiveness of the internet – espiecially social media. It disturbs natural rhythm of life. It takes focus from real life events. Every second of online presence is a second absent from life. Being aware of that I also appreciate the opportunity that I can make my art more accessible – I can show my creations to worldwide audience. I can connect with other artists making wonderful acts of support.  All I need is to balance the good and the bad.

Recent changes of my lifestyle helped to give up on the Internet a little bit and to adjust to new rhythm of stitching. Since I’m living  closer to nature, sustaining the life with my own hands – then I changed my time perception. In the aspect of the whole human life as well as the present moment importance. And the concept that in fact I stitch my own time – the one and only time in one's life – somehow I stitch my life onto the fabric.

I’ve always been a dreamer and I still am despite that times are busier now. I dream simply about creating at my own peace, in freedom, self-centered.

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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?

It is so hard to distinguish. I believe that all the things that we have ever seen float in our subconscious and that’s what is used in the process of creating art. Going further this way our creations are hybrids of things and art and people that we came across.

But there are some very individual interests (unexplainable) that draws us to one objects more than the other. There are many different reasons that we create. For me my favorite objects are faces and eyes and they have always been (since early forever). Also it doesn't mean I will stick to them for the rest of my life. My main motivation is a need of expressing my soul life – messy emotions and thoughts.

I’m aware that seeing art online influence my perception and ideas. Let’s describe it as getting an impulse of positive energy every time I see some genius artwork. I feel I’m at the party and I can’t wait to add my own piece (more or less genius).

Also the things that often inspire me are some other artists' persistence for instance when they create something very individual, far away from current trends in craft and art market.

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

I understand the creative voice as the way I use colors, shapes, textures in my artworks. It is certain style and character that can be recognizable and one of a kind.

To get to the point I am now - first I was growing up surrounded by my parent's art-that's the first inspiration served with milk.  Very early I was fascinated by linear drawings. Preferring naive and primitive to realistic. Always into vivid colors and meticulous details. And that pretty much hasn't changed since then. I didn't study art at the academy - this way I missed a lot of new perspectives and also strengthened my inner voice (uninterrupted by critique). All the way I've seen art out there that I memorised. Those particular pieces that resonated with me the most got treasured forever in my brain. They are the core inspiration - often acting from unconsciousness.

I've noticed some new things showing up in my artistic journey.  That must be a sign of an ever evolving creative voice. My recent piece is a good example. I created embroidery that measures 38 x 51 cm (about 13.25 x 25.5 inches). That is a huge contrast to 6 inch hoop. To accomplish it I worked for about 5 months. By making a huge piece in the span of a few months in small daily doses I discovered a new perspective of time.  My focus sharpened – focus that I put on my work. It was also my personal challenge to try out my persistence and patience.

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

In that matter I’m oversensitive – maybe because I witness very often infringement. Luckily I did not find my works copied. Just a few people strongly inspired. It is maybe because my technique is quite complicated. Anyone who tried to push the needle through the hole in the clay would understand.

The problem of stealing ideas is widespread just like thievery in general. And I don’t mean only those who steal our wallet on the street. I also mean huge organizations, governments, systems. They do treat people unfairly. The courts aren’t justice. Forget a justice for an artist whose work was copied.

This is how things are on our planet.

Besides whatever we feel about it the action is still possible. It is important to educate. Talk with people about the damaging effects of copying and the thivery. Just by being conscious about spending money and earning money we can change the situation. Important is to support small business not the big companies . To manage your household budget well – so well you won’t need loans – don’t support banks if you can. To not buy unnecessary things (ha, ha, that's challenging one). Do things yourself – it is healthier and eco-friendly. The power of collective can change the world. The society that is conscious – recognize the evil and support what is good.

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

Here I would love to  share a simple life philosophy:

'You need to know what you are doing and what is it for. Think about it in lifetime perspective.' (by M.)

Often values that we attach to certain things change in life long perspective. The act of imagining what do we really need considering the next 50 years can help us understand real importance. It can also help us to be less demanding of life luxuries. And most importantly it leads us to doing the right thing now.

Besides I love these grains of wisdom that sticked to me recently:

*Demanding that your creative spirit earns money can be harmful for the spirit. (not precisely quoted from
Big Magic by E.Gilbert)

*The success is when you painted something you have never seen before. (by Alyssa Monks)

And my own attitude that I do implement: Stay persistent in creating. Enjoy creating art.

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

An artist who inspired me with my early polymer clay sculptures (and also taught me a lot through her amazing video tutorials) is @petitplat.

Miniature architectural landscapes by @byrosa blow my mind every time.

The amazing origami master @icarus.mid.air that I had a privilage to collaborate with.

In textile world, especially those who work in three dimensions I love @thatembroiderygirl, @van_der_winkel, @pantovola.art, @cabbagesandnettles_ @amandinebouet

Embroiderers that I can’t get enough of @fiance_knowles, @jessicasorentang @katie_wells_, @mother_eagle_embroidery, @lisa_smirnova and many many more!

I love paintings by @bradrkunkle

I’m always intrigued by artist @franki_e

One of my favourite artists is @wolodkiewicz.tattoo

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Craft With Conscience: Erin Dollar of Cotton & Flax

Sarah Benning

Erin Dollar // Designer // San Diego, CA


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Craft With Conscience: Judit Just of Jujujust

Sarah Benning

Jujujust // Textile Artist // Asheville, NC


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

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

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

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

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

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Craft With Conscience: Nadia Nizamudin

Sarah Benning

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


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

Check out more of her amazing work on Instagram.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Laura Garcia Serventi of ART and PEOPLE

Sarah Benning

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

painters /illustrators

other  art mediums

design

gardens

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Anna Hultin of Olander CO. Embroidery

Sarah Benning

Anna Hultin // Embroidery Artist // Loveland, CO



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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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All Images provided by the artist.

Craft with Conscience: Adam Pritchett

Sarah Benning

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I could go on and on listing countless more!

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Serena García Dalla Venezia

Sarah Benning

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


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

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

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

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

Check out her amazing work on her website or Instagram.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My advice is to work hard. perseverance is fundamental.

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

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

and an artist that fascinates me is Hanne Friis.

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Humayrah Bint Altaf

Sarah Benning

Humayrah Bint Altaf  //  Embroidery Artist // England

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Banksy, Nigel Slater and Cats of Instagram!

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Maryanne Moodie

Sarah Benning

Maryanne Moodie // Fiber Artist // Melbourne, Australia


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

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

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

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

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 Photo by Caitlin Mills for The Design Files

Photo by Caitlin Mills for The Design Files

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

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

 Photo by Caitlin Mills for The Design Files

Photo by Caitlin Mills for The Design Files

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Photo by Eve Wilson for The Design Files

Photo by Eve Wilson for The Design Files

 Photo by Caitlin Mills   for The Design Files.

Photo by Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

All photos provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Meghan Bogden Shimek

Sarah Benning

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh yes!

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

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

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

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

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

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All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Hello Tangle

Sarah Benning

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also, Netflix.  Hooray for the internet!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 art that we love:

@kelaoke

@kindahkhalidy

@meaganalessio

@mandismoothhills

@kellryan

@rachelcastleandthings

our fave clothing and colour inspo:

@gormanclothing

@dinosaur_designs

for great pics, hilarity and some serious stuff too:

@jengotch

for many many laughs:

@busyphilipps

@sarafoster

@erinfoster

and for general beautifulness:

@bohemegoods

@sfgirlbybay

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All Image provided by the artists

Craft With Conscience: Nicole O'Loughlin

Sarah Benning

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Instagram accounts of thefiberstudio, embroidery

Avant Arte for contemporary artworks and artists

I adore the work of Guimtio for the perfection in simplicity

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

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All images provided by the artist