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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: Raven K. Dock

Sarah Benning

Raven K. Dock // Fiber Artist // Central Florida


Raven K. Dock is a self-taught fiber artist based in the finicky weathered state of Florida who experiments with traditional stitches and cross stitch to transform her photographed subjects into texturized portraitures ranging for a multitude of sizes; from miniature to palm size with many possibilities in between. With hopes of exhibiting and selling her portraits, and soon to be prints, Raven continues to express ambiguity of emotion, one eye-less portrait at a time.

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 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 exposed me to the craftsmanship of embroidery and fibers in general, I had absolutely no idea this medium could be manipulated or presented in such a way two years ago. Discovering embroidery was like a salve to my psyche, as I was going through such a disappointing and self-loathing period after being urged to drop out of high school, two months before graduation after a simple case of misguided confidence and miscommunication. To say I felt defeated was an understatement. But without these sequences of events I wouldn’t be the person and artist I am, or creating the work I am today. Part of me is somewhat grateful and proud of the person I’ve evolved into artistically despite the rough beginnings. On a professional level the internet has prepared me for the notion that not everything has to work despite it feeling so right at the moment and it not falling into place. Things don’t happen for no reason. I’ve been flat out ignored and not taken seriously in the early parts of my journey and I quickly realized, that is ok. Chances are, what ever opportunity I missed and whatever person ignored me, obviously weren’t right for me from the beginning. Although I had Instagram for such a long time, I was never really one to share my art as transparently two years ago. I’ve been stitching every single day for the past two years and I’ve done very little sharing due to my insecurities of not really knowing who I was in terms of being a fiber artist. It wasn’t until recently I decided to put my foot down on the fear and put myself out there more aggressively and make my presence known. The amount of feedback and support I’ve gotten recently is staggering and I feel like the more open I am the more likely I am to stretch the boundaries of my work and do things I would have never thought to do before. So thank you 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 find inspiration in what I find the most uncomfortable; raw emotions and feelings, which somewhat explains the lack of eyes in my pieces. The eyes are the most intimate fixtures of the human form in my opinion. Not that I don’t think my viewers are undeserving of intimacy it’s quite the opposite. I think they’re so deserving that they should be in control of the narrative and what emotions they think the subject may be portraying in relation to their current situations and lives. The mouth may tell a hundred tales, but the eyes speak a thousand stories and without them you’ll never know what a person is truly feeling and will remain a mystery. I find the process of stitching portraits to be a very brutal, yet a gentle experience. It almost feels like I’m being introduced to someone new and just around the time we’re nearly acquainted the portrait is done and it’s time to meet someone else i.e. starting a new portrait. Music has really impacted the nature and the naming of each piece I create, a simple word and melody can send me into a creative frenzy. Social media has made me more likely and aware of choosing subjects that are relatable, not overly modified and unachievable. But I actually find myself more distracted when searching for inspiration online in particular, sometimes I have to just close my eyes and pick an album and allow my mind’s eye to take over.

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

Although this isn’t my final “form” of my voice it’s nonetheless a lovely foundation. I actually have found a semblance of my voice as an artist quite recently and completely accidental, I in no way expected the work I am creating now to be something I ever imagined I would do. I needed a break from working with apparel and with sore fingers and a sense of curiosity my voice as an artist bloomed… Two years later.

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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?

As a 22 year old, I honestly cannot wrap my mind around Pinterest as a marketing tool, I just pin and create boards so I have rarely ever shared, but I do love me some pinning! Due to the fact that I’ve recently started sharing more intensively on Instagram I am sure there will be pieces popping up very soon that are eerily similar to my own, but fingers crossed this doesn’t happen. Why copy me when you can be great and create something completely original? I know there is watermarking and stuff but once someone sets their mind on wanting to steal your creativity and voice, is there ever really a way of stopping them? I try to reiterate that my work isn’t a tutorial and not to treat it as such. I am hoping if it does happen someone who is either a fellow artist or simply a supporter in the fiber and art community will alert me to it and ill deal accordingly, but I’m not completely confident on how I will react to it, wish me luck!

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

Stay hungry, whatever people say to try to diminish your dream, let that be a constant fire in your belly to decimate whatever negativity they attempt to send you way. Whatever project you’re beginning or skill you’re attempting to learn go hard, there’s no other option and create what YOU want to see in the world. And PLEASE don’t be silly like me and work for 4 to 7 hours straight, take breaks, rest your eyes and eat a snack. Being a shaky, jittery mess will not improve or benefit your art or business, trust me.

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

From the very beginning you were the first account I’ve encountered and blew my mind with the medium and started the obsession (you low-key got me into houseplants too).

Cayce Zavaglia showed me the possibilities of the medium and the drive to push limits that critics of embroidery, harbors against fiber artist. Danielle Kyrsa aka The Jealous Curator and her ‘Art For Your Ears’ podcast gave me the drive and proof that it’s possible and all worth it.

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All images provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Shyama Golden

Sarah Benning

Shyama Golden // Painter // Brooklyn NY


Shyama Golden’s paintings lie strategically between the cute and uncanny, inviting the viewer to discover new details through multiple viewings. They are influenced by her scientist parents and childhood exposure to Buddhist philosophy. Her work has been published by The New York Times, The Atlantic, Wired, Washington Post, Chronicle Books, and Penguin Random House. She has a BFA from Texas Tech University and is based in Brooklyn, NY. She has an upcoming duo show with artist Mimi O Chun on Friday Nov. 30th, 6pm, at 198 Allen St. NY, NY.

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

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing 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 an essential to my livelihood as I have yet to follow a traditional path. So far, I have never mailed a postcard, won an award, or been represented by a gallery but I would consider myself to be quite successful on my own terms. I am able to make a good living and have the respect and friendship of some people I truly look up to. The internet can be a democratizing force when you are doing something that perhaps those in power aren’t quite ready to recognize.

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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 do collect images from the internet and books but try to be inspired from things that are a few steps removed from what I’m doing. For example, I would prefer to be inspired by a set designer than another contemporary painter.

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

I have found my creative voice by leaning into what is weird about me--my point of view as a person of color, my parents being scientists rather than artists, my memories of living in other countries--but I am only at the beginning of the journey, having recently decided to put all of my time into it and never have a “day job” again.

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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 dealt with this. I think it’s good to make work that is difficult to copy, but when that fails I would recommend not spending too much mental energy on stopping it. It is draining and it’s more important to put that energy into new work and staying one step ahead of the copy-cats. For example I don’t recommend a watermark or visible copyright text on top of your artwork or sharing only low res work, this may stop some people from stealing it but it’s at the expense of showing your work at its best. If someone is making a lot of money off of your stolen work then certainly do go after them if you have the time.

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

Keep trying things you believe to be impossible. When you prove yourself wrong even some of those times, you will gain confidence to try bolder and crazier things that few others will be doing. Get used to feeling uncomfortable, if you always feel secure then you aren't reaching your full potential.

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

Mimi O Chun: She addresses some heavy subjects using soft sculpture that is a joy to look at but will leave you thinking about the dystopian implications. We also have a joint show coming up Nov 30 in NYC!

Shantell Martin: Watch her TED talk and follow her on instagram, she is truly an independent thinker and helped me look at taking creative risks in a new way.

Laura Callaghan: Her instagram is great! She often dissects how she thinks conceptually to arrive at her wonderfully complex images.

Amrita Sher Gil: A brilliant artist whom many have not heard of. She was born in 1913, but her work was certainly ahead of its time and has been properly recognized only after her death.

Alice Neel: An incredible American artist who was known for her depictions of ordinary women who were rarely seen in art.

Amy Sherald: An inspiration on many levels! I recommend reading about her life and how she continues to give back to her community.

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All Images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Mijo Studio

Sarah Benning

Mijo Studio // Design Studio // Stavanger Norway and Copenhagen Denmark


Mijo Studio is a forward thinking Danish-Norwegian design duo formed by Miranda Tengs Brun and Josefine Gilbert. Specializing in prints, patterns and textiles they experiment with colours and textures. Their work always starts by hand and is characterised by their curious and playful approach to the creative process. The scandinavian duo design dynamic prints, patterns and creative solutions for experimental projects and exhibitions as well as commercial collaborations.

Check out more of their amazing work at www.mijostudio.com 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 plays a major role in our artistic and professional lives. It is a great place for us to interact with a lot of different people we might not otherwise have the opportunity to. We also use it as a place to get feedback on our sketches, exhibitions and products. We test a lot of stuff out. It gives us huge understanding of how our work is received. In an artistic sense it keeps us continuously stimulated and excited about what’s going on the world of art in design.

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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?

We have a very analogue approach to our design process and are more often inspired by physical stuff in our surroundings, unexpected compositions we see when we travel. We are often inspired by traditional textile techniques. For example during an artist residency in Indonesia we found huge inspiration in the way they used the print technique of Batik. Of course, we are hugely influenced from articles, blogs and instagram and so on too. But in terms of the design process we find most of our true inspiration in materials, textures and surfaces from real life examples. For us this is an important contrast from looking on social media.

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

Definitely through lots of experiments. We are really playful in how we create our prints. Experimenting is hugely important to us, we like to lose control in the sketching part of our design process. We always get inspired when we are able to create without a specific aim but let the techniques, colours and material speak for us. We find our creative voice through our love of screen printing. It is the foundation for everything we do. You can achieve so many different results through this diverse medium. Everything we make afterwards comes from this. It’s then also highly satisfying for us to realise these prints in different products.

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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?

Luckily this hasn’t happened to us yet. But is of course something all designers are aware of as a possibility. We are very conscious of it but we don’t let it change the way we are with people. We don’t want to be secretive or too scared to share our work. The way we see it is actually a very positive thing to be able to share inspiration with others. We just encourage other designers to be very clued up on copyrights because this is what has really helped us.

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

For people who are thinking of starting a creative business but only have them as small creative projects on the side. Go for it and make the small projects your main projects. Prioritise them, don’t sacrifice them. And always stay curious and don’t be afraid to aim high.

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

We follow a lot of different artists, designers, architects, gallery and people doing exciting creative adventures. At the moment we are very inspired by @etageprojects a design gallery based in Copenhagen. For an amazing Danish-Polish tufting duo we love @witekgolik and for beautiful UK based embroidery @elliemac.embroidery

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All images provided by the artists

Craft With Conscience: Kate Tume of Mother Eagle

Sarah Benning

Kate Tume // Embroidery Artist // Brighton, UK.


Kate Tume aka Mother Eagle is an embroidery artist from Brighton, UK. Self taught, she'd been practising embroidery almost her whole life before turning professional artist 10 years ago. Kate combines a variety of techniques in her work, often 3-dimensional, embellishments and goldwork feature heavily. Her work is influenced by folklore, mythology and burial customs, and she is currently working on projects around our disappearing world, and lost species. Kate also teaches textile arts privately, and has just launched the first design in a series of embroidery kits called 'Mother Eagle Textile Art Boxes'.

Check out more of her amazing work on Instagram, her website, and online 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 wouldn't have the business I have now without the internet and I wouldn't choose to be without it. I've had my ups and downs with it though, so it is a carefully managed relationship and I try to maintain healthy boundaries with it. Sure I like to scroll and consume images on my phone on my commute like many people, but on the whole I interact with the internet in a way that is mindful, problem solving. I always try and see the internet as a tool and not as real life, and I try and make my relationship with it active and not passive.  Being informed and wanting to pass that on in a creative way is a huge part of my drive as an artist, so a thirst for knowledge informs my relationship with the internet most. I use it for researching the stories of the animals and plants I feature in my art. Overall though my online 'strategy' is conversion to real world opportunities and experiences. My focus is on exhibiting my work and nurturing relationships with galleries that will display my art in real life. Embroidery is transformed when seen 'live' (and is transformational in terms of it's impact on perceptions of what 'art is'). My main income stream at the moment is through teaching so increasing my online platform supports this, and as I've just launched my Textile Art Boxes (DIY kits), it's much easier to convert sales of these, than it is large originals which need to be seen, and felt.

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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 is my love and fascination for all living creatures! I'd say narrative is the most important and consistent thread in my work. Each piece has behind it pages and pages of notes and research before I pick up a needle. Folklore and mythology have a very strong influence on me, and this goes hand in hand with a fascination for ancient history and the 'old ways'. I'm currently about 2 years into a theme of endangered and extinct species which pretty much encompasses all these elements. I have a strong driving impulse to tell stories of the animals and species we are losing and have lost. I'm very interested in humanity's relationship with nature both now and in the past, and also how we mark loss, grieve and ritualise death. It's combining these ideas that I'm exploring in my work, and it's proved such a rich vein of inspiration I can't see an end to at the moment. I'm aware of the inherent sadness in this statement, but I read something recently that struck a chord which is that people tend to care more about things to which they have an emotional connection. Art has the amazing ability to produce this emotional connection in us. It's my deepest intention with my art that it too forges an emotional connection with the viewer, that then produces a tangible and positive action in the world - whether that's telling a friend the story of the thylacine for example, or deciding to donate some money to a charity that protects habitats. Or simply just having a higher awareness for our impact on the disappearing world.

In terms of how the internet has impacted my design process, i would say only positively inasmuch as I have access to amazing resources that inform my work. Websites like the IUCN redlist of endangered species, and Arkive that does a more condensed job of this with more imagery, are go-to starting points for any portraits I'm working on. On Instagram I can follow amazing wildlife photographers whose portraits capture my heart.

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

I think it's very important to cultivate a relationship within yourself, with your own artistic self. What I mean is, when I felt I'd truly found my artistic voice was when I stopped looking outside at what I thought would be popular or commercially successful, and instead looked within and paid attention to the things I really wanted to create. It was a very significant moment for me. I realised I didn't care anymore to follow those, largely fear-based, messages and voices telling me I had to be an artist in a certain way to be successful (for me this was things like "work small. No one will buy large, you'll never be able to pay yourself a wage that will reflect your time" etc). This had led me down a path that meant I was being creative in a way that was inauthentic for me. And guess what - I wasn't successful or fulfilled! I felt like I was shouting into a void. Abandoning that led me to my piece The God of Crabs, my first ever large scale animal portrait. I wanted to work big and textured and colourful and 3 dimensional. I had never done that before. It felt both exhilarating but also very calm, normal, natural. That piece was the first in a body of work that has now seen me exhibit internationally, have my own solo show, begin teaching and most recently launch my own embroidery kits. 
This may be an age thing, certainly a confidence thing. But for me I am increasingly less in need of external reassurance and less interested in not being 100% myself. This has been quite difficult for me to achieve, stand in my own power and feel that what I have to say and contribute has value and deserves to take up space.

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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?

Making art that is authentically me and mine. I know that might sound like I'm saying that artists who have their work plagiarised aren't making authentic work but that's not what I mean at all. It's that I believe if you're copying art you're not making art. You're making a facsimile of someone else's voice and I think there is very little value in that. It's sad because each of our own unique voices has so much more to offer.
To my knowledge I've never had my work copied. I'm sure I probably will and it possibly already has been. So whilst I can't share how it has affected me, I honestly don't worry about it happening. Art isn't just what something looks like, aesthetics. It's what it represents, what it means. A copy may look similar but it can never have the same depth. I used to spend ages putting watermarks on my images, but honestly, if someone's going to steal they can remove it, crop it out, whatever. I think if you're going to share your work on the internet then it is a double edged sword - you want to reach a wide audience, but then you expose yourself to a risk of theft. But not sharing your work is so much more harmful to you! Just because you may feel safer not sharing your work online, you could still then exhibit your work and people come see it and take photos and then decide to copy you. you just can't enjoy the rewards of being an artist whilst keeping your light hidden. If and when plagiarism occurs for me, as I'm sure it will, I expect I may feel anger and resentment, I will contact them if I can and take the necessary steps. But ultimately I believe in trying to never act out of fear in my artistic practice, so to curtail anything that I'm doing would be inconsistent with that and not true to me.

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

I would offer some advice specifically for embroidery artists who identify as female because that's the experience I speak to, but it may resonate with other kinds of artists and art too. Embroidery tends to be very gendered. Seen as women's work. 'Domestic craft' etc. So because being female is so often devalued in our society, so is our work. However, embroidery is art, and when we as artists in this medium stand up for that and demand our place, we start a dialogue that transcends our medium - the meaning of the art stands regardless of whether it is a painting or a sculpture or a cross stitch or whatever. And then the technique becomes part of its shining value. Whenever anyone working in embroidery - whether they call themselves an artist or not - sells their work at a low, cheap price, it harms all embroidery artists. It says "hey, this is easy and of no meaning or consequence" and the viewer is encouraged to see this medium as disposable. If all embroidery artists make sure we price our work properly, know and demand our value, it would change the perception of embroidery as art. The issue is both in society and our own internalised self love. We must love ourselves and each other enough. I know there is a fear that 'what if I don't sell?' but we must not continue to uphold the idea that art by women is less than. No.

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

My recommendations:

Textile artist Annamieke Mein - I encourage any artist interested in nature who is unaware of her work to look her up!


The illustration of Alan Aldridge from the Butterfly Ball trilogy of books. I have owned and lived and referred back to this trio of illustrated poems almost my entire life.

3 books I wouldn't be without are the Dorling Kindersley Natural History Book, Photographer Tim Flach's gorgeous book Endangered has already been hugely important and influential for me, and finally Joel Sartore's Animal Ark books are extremely engaging and a real treat for anyone who loves wildlife.

On instagram:

Irem Yasici's work is just so joyful,whilst also being so skillfully made and also just so wonderfully unique and creative. Plus quite honestly her good natured kindness and charm. Raven Kianna D. Is an artist new to me who has a very strong and transparent voice, which I find very nourishing. Following her work is one of my new fave things.
Janine Hershel creates machine embroidered wildlife portraits which just absolutely blow my mind. A truly special talent. Emily Tull's line quality in her embroidered art, and the painterly quality she imbues her work with reflect her immense skill and mastery.

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Craft With Conscience: Emma Duehr of Talking Tushies

Sarah Benning

Emma Duehr // Artist // Portland Oregon


TRIGGER WARNING: This interview contains graphic statics and content about sexual violence.

“Talking Tushies” is a social project by Emma Duehr aiming to discourage future inappropriate or violent actions perpetrated by men in the United States. By creating embroidered patches for the back pocket of women’s pants with sexual assault statistics embroidered upon them Duehr hopes to spread awareness of the problems that many women face on a daily basis. Duehr believes that wearing “Talking Tushies” will make a difference in some men’s behavior by educating the unaware on the horrifying statistics of sexual violence and misconduct in the U.S.  Every time a statistic patch is spotted, she hopes to help save a woman in this country from future sexual harassment. “Talking Tushies” was created to empower women to walk fearlessly and with confidence. 

“I’ve come to the terms that there is no way to stop men from looking at my ass, and this will never change. Therefore, I am starting to use my ass as a goddamn billboard to teach deviant men a lesson. I refuse to walk in fear any longer; I am choosing to walk with confidence that I can make a change in rising sexual assault statistics in our country.” - Emma Duehr

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

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing 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?

Social networks are fabulous places to advertise your work, collect inspirational works, and to display your portfolio on an easily reached network. My project, “Talking Tushies” is currently dependent on the internet to spread the project to vast lengths. I use the internet as a platform to build relationship with interested buyers and supporters. Utilizing social networks to host conversations with individuals who share similar interests is a great way to get people involved. I post all of my work on many social sites, such as instagram, facebook, tumblr, and my personal website. Interested supports are able to easily contact me with through comments, private messages, and a link to my email. 

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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 main inspiration for my work derives from personal experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Talking Tushies has built an online community for women to share their own stories as well as purchase a pocket patch to get involved. Sharing stories within a social environment allows many women the comfortability to express themselves in ways they never thought they could. The media inspires my work in many ways; ranging from collecting news articles that interest me, to sharing my personal experiences and ideas. 

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

I received my BFA from Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa in 2017 and am currently a graduate student at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. I use my artistic platform to express my views and evoke change; art making has been my primary voice in society for about 8 years. My work aims to start conversations that are difficult to have, but in public environments. My voice is directly heard by my audience,  on subjects that desperately need attention. 

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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 designed an object that many women in our country are interested in supporting, but not all women want to provide payment. I have had 10+ private messages asking if it was “okay to make their own.” I respond saying that “Talking Tushies” is copyrighted in my name and I would appreciate it if they wouldn’t. I am thankful that these women asked before they assumed they could. Some people in our society understand this concept, others unfortunately do not. I am thankful that I have not encountered any problems with idea infringement.

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

Follow your creative flow and don’t force anything; the greatest ideas are born when least expected. Take pictures of all of your work, even the really ‘bad’ ones; those ‘bad’ works might make more sense to you in your future. Take risks; when someone disagrees with you, stand your ground and prosper. Make a community with people that share the same interests as you; the friendly conversations centered around your work leads to the greatest successes.

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

My major networks that base my inspirations:

@beefykate

@riverbirchthreads

@damngoodstich

@velvetsugar

@sallymustang

@nationalparkservice

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All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Gracie Ellison-Shortbridge

Sarah Benning

Gracie Ellison-Shortridge // Painter // Portland OR


Gracie Ellison, born and raised in Portland, Oregon, has been illustrating faces her whole life; painting portraits on canvas for only a few years. She has no formal training or education, her art has always been instinctual for her and learned through years of studying the art surrounding her. Gracie almost exclusively paints busts of surly faced women; within that realm she likes to explore with color, patterns, texture, and imperfections. While her creative process is somewhat whimsical, Gracie strives for her subjects to be commanding and impactful.

Check out more of her amazing work on her website 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?

Social media is how this all started for me, how I make the vast majority of my artistic connections, and how almost all of my paintings are sold. I started posting some of my paintings on Instagram just to share them, then people asked about buying them; it was a tool I sort of stumbled into. It may be because my website is lacking (I’m working on it, okay!), but most of my client base contacts me through Instagram. Social media has been crucial for any and all achievements I’ve made so far!

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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 constantly stumbling upon inspiration; it usually takes odd shapes like a textile, stranger’s nose, color combination in an outfit. Seldom am I looking for inspiration, more often I see something and scramble to take a photo or screenshot. On a more traditional note, I love to look at the work of other artists, of course. My mom is an artist and I grew up in a house full of art books so I often look back to artists I grew up on: Matisse, Gauguin, Lautrec, etc. When it comes to finding contemporary artists, social media is key for me. I can spend hours going down a rabbit hole of artists on Instagram, saving dozens of photos along the way.

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

 My art was a result of my creative voice. I have always had a visual mind and clear point of view, my paintings are honestly just a way to focus and express that energy. My voice is, of course, always morphing and I find myself questioning it at times, but that creative voice is often the easiest part of painting for me. When it comes to refining that point of view and translating it to canvas, I do sometimes struggle. I’ll look back on a painting or series of paintings and wonder what I was thinking and not recognize myself in them. That’s when it’s time to take a break and reassess what I want my work to say!

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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 haven’t, thank goodness!

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

 I still am an aspiring artist! If there’s any advice I’m qualified to give it’s to always trust your gut. Listen to advice or criticism and learn from it but never shape your work based on anyone’s opinion. It’s probably cliche advice, I just think an artist’s intuition is their most valuable asset.

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

 I have too many to list! Off the top of my head:

 Nationale— a small gallery here in Portland that is perfectly curated and always giving me new artists to stalk on Instagram.

 Nyssa Sharp—a visual artist I’m obsessed with. She does a lot of line figures but also paints insane oil portraits every once in a while.

 Ace & Jig—a Portland-based clothing line—their textiles and colors are so inspirational.

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All images provided by the arrtist

Craft With Conscience: Gabriela Martínez Ortiz of Ofelia & Antelmo

Sarah Benning

Gabriela Martínez Ortiz // Fiber Artist // Mexico City


Named after her maternal grandparents, Gabriela is the textile artist behind Ofelia & Antelmo, a proposal based on two joint formats: Textile art and Wearable Art. Its visual approach is the result of the exploration of organic textures by the repetition of patterns that invites the viewer to stop, slow down and contemplate. She applies traditional textile techniques – especially hand embroidery– and transforms it into contemporary pieces. Her work pays special attention in the manufacturing times to rethink the way we consume as a protest to the speed of the XXI century. Ofelia & Antelmo embraces the fair time that the artisanal processes demand.

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?

The internet plays an important role in my daily bases. It gives me the freedom to work from home by my own rules. All you want to learn is there. 

Instagram has been until now, the only platform where I'm constantly sharing my work and process, many of my sales have come from there.  Instagram also helps me to keep my creative search active, there you have the opportunity to get to know the work of many amazing artists and designers from all over the world and in the best case scenario, you get to connect with them. I think it takes time and constancy to create a community as an artist on the internet, so I have to remain patient, but I also think it is a great place to do so without having to have important contacts and without having to give half of my work to the biggest stores and galleries. It is a platform that allows your work to travel, remain alive and keep updated..

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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 very interested in photography, so my work is very influenced by the places I visit and the photos I capture. I'm always observing and searching for compositions and combinations of colors in my everyday life. I like to look for patterns on the textures I find interesting, my favorite ones are from nature. 

When it comes to the design process, my mind works as a collage, so most of my decisions are made directly on the material. I like to improvise and adapt my ideas with what I already have, so each piece is born from previous inspiration and continuity. 

Many of my new ideas also come from special commissions, those are the ones that make me come out of my comfort zone.

Even though the Internet has given me the chance to start my own business, I don't consider myself very technological. I try to be careful with the time I spend on the Internet, it is an extremely big and illusive world that can easily make me fall in comparisons and insecurities.  It is addictive and it can be very distracting for me. I really use it to listen to music when I’m embroidering I also love to listen to podcasts and conversations that enhance my personal and artistic development. The channels I listen to most are: Creative Lives by Chase Jarvis, The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes, Marie TV by Marie Forleo, The Tim Ferris Show, Super Soul Conversation by Oprah and TED.

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

I have learned to trust my intuition more, but I think that is a never-ending search that keeps transforming. It has been a very organic process but finding the why of my project has been key in order to identify my creative voice. I have always wanted to work with my hands and never wanted to be a part of mass production. The idea of my project has been forming and becoming something since my university thesis and keeps transforming. My biggest motivation today, is to create unique pieces that last and can be passed on, always emphasizing the value of the craft and the importance of working with your own hands.

Embroidery is what I learn the most from, it has helped me cultivate my patience and to trust in the time that each piece requires. It has taught me to be with myself, to heal and to be present. I think that the only way to find your creative voice is by doing, exploring and observing your process, this is what strengthens the most your vision and tells you the right path to go. It is in the process where all the lessons lie.

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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?

Fortunately, I haven’t found an identical work to mine but I am not looking for one neither. I'm aware that sharing my work on the internet carries some risks, but I like to think that even though there will be people that would like to copy my ideas, I am always a step forward because I am the only one that understands how my vision works. If I get to find a copy of my work or publication/post lacking my credit, I think I would raise my voice, but only to make them know that it’s not OK by me, but I'm also aware that these situations are out of my control so I try not to think about them too much.

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

To go for it! To let go the idea of the perfect scenario because such a thing will never come, nothing ever goes as planned, problems arise on the go and everything it's figure-outable. You can start with as small steps as you want but start! and share them on some social platform. Be very persistent and make healthy habits and routines. Whenever you feel stuck, surround yourself with the people you love, leave time to play and wonder and visit some green places. Don’t be afraid to charge the price you think your work is worth because if you don’t give it its worth, no one will. Fall in love with your messy start and embrace uncertainty because it’s the only thing we have for certain. And most importantly, trust your process and your vision because nobody sees the world as you do, and that is the touch that makes the thing you do, unique.

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All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Yiyi Mendoza

Sarah Benning

Yiyi Mendoza // Ceramic Artist // Upstate NY


Yiyi Mendoza is a ceramic artist raised in California and currently working in Upstate New York. Interested in the connections that objects can provide for us, Yiyi makes functional and decorative ceramic objects that elevate spaces and rituals. Her work is a reminder that objects hold life, beauty and purpose. Inspired by ancient cultures, architecture and the cosmos, her forms are intended to endure as relics of this time.

Check out more of her amazing work at yiyimendoza.com 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 is a wild and wonderful place. Professionally, the internet allows me to do what I do on many levels. A couple of years ago, just when I was beginning to do what I do now and sell my work, I made a big move across the country- from west coast to east coast. I kinda had to start from scratch with a new local creative community. Through social media and the internet I was able to connect with new and local creative people around me while at the same time stay connected with my creative friends and like minded people from my old grounds. Now I feel I have connections with people across a vast space via the internet. This allows me to sell online and in person to my current surrounding community but it also allows me to feel supported and raised up. As a woman of color working in ceramics it’s easy to feel underrepresented. However, through the connections of the internet and social media I have encountered other poc artists that are like mirrors looking back at me, helping me feel represented and empowered.

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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 work is a result of a combination of ingredients : my cultural background and other ancient cultures, the cosmos, anthropology, architecture and the feelings that arise from existing as a woman/poc in today. My practice is also a therapy for me and my mental health which is always inspiring me to continue to make.

The internet and social media have allowed me to discover fellow artists with a similar story as my own who share similar sensibilities that translate through an aesthetic. The biggest ways in which the internet and social media have impacted my design is by finding inspiration in the boldness of other people’s practice. Whenever I feel inhibited to express myself fully or feel that what I have to say/show doesn’t matter, I find examples of brave individuals who are taking a strong stand and have an unwavering sense of who they are as artists. That kind of strength is breathtaking to me; it is so inspiring and definitely makes its way to my design process. I feel it the most when I’m in the process of creating work with concepts and substance that breaks through the boundaries of what is expected from a artist like myself.

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

It’s been a process. I’ve been working with ceramics for more than twelve years but I have always had multiple disciplines that have, at times, taken the spotlight in my life or have influenced my art practice. Natural medicine, traditional healing practices, yoga and spirituality are some of these disciplines. I think my creative voice feels clear and like myself when I allow all of these parts of me to come forward in my work. I live a life full of rituals with moments of healing and looking for beauty in the life around me. I make objects because I want to extend this to people- a form of offering. I am sincerely reaching out and wanting to connect and that’s what my voice is saying.

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

My stance on art appropriation or cultural appropriation in art is very clear: stealing someone else's work is unacceptable and essentially limits your own creative energy and inspiration from flowing from a truthful and unique place. It really is a disservice to the person who is copying or using work in an inappropriate way. With that said, whenever I encounter work that seems to be oddly similar to mine I try not to assume that it is an appropriation of my designs even when certain factors might indicate so. I understand that the internet is a crossing point for many people sharing and absorbing inspiration. In some cases people at a beginning stage of their art practice do use other art as a direct inspiration or learning guide for their work. In other cases, it may have been synchronicity : different people in different places arriving at similar aesthetics on their own. This does happen.

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

There is so much to say for this one, but I’ll say: Keep learning, organizing, collaborating and keep showing up to things in real life. Keep your eyes open for free or affordable learning experiences, especially ones that place you in front of experienced artists or community leaders from which you can learn a lot. This could include, but are not limited to, community classes, workshops, internships, discussion panels, art shows, online videos and books. Although most of the work of making happens in solitude and is an intimate practice, you need a community of like minded people to reflect off of. Likewise, if you don’t find opportunities that you see fitting to display your work, you can create them yourself in collaboration with other artists. Make connections online and find interesting events or pages to follow but also show up to social events or one-on-one meetings in person and when you do, be real. Additionally, use your platform to empower and support others, because we’re all in this together and sometimes this is harder for some more than others.

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

I am excited to feel that I am part of a movement of creatives existing in this time, reacting to universal factors and cultural factors of this contemporary life. There is a visceral feeling that I experience when I encounter work made by an artists who are as passionate as I am about the intersection of life and art. The following are some of these artists : @future.ancestors, @likemindedobjects, @enkyu_, @hello.zephyr, @objectsntheround, @georginatrevino, @tactilematter, @harvey.b.hrvi . I am lucky to call some of them my friends and others I am hoping to meet one day.

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All images provided by the artist

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.