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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: Tasha Lewis

Sarah Benning

 

 

Tasha Lewis // Mixed-Media Sculptor // Jersey City NJ


Tasha Lewis is a mixed-media sculptor with a wide ranging artistic practice that includes global collaborative street-art, book design, self-publishing, illustration based on literature, and a variety of hand-sewn sculptures. Lewis works with cyanotype, a historic photographic process also known as blueprints or sun prints, as well as found and dyed textiles. Her studio-work has recently begun to focus on the human figure through the lens of Classical Greek statues. She embellishes the surfaces of these sculptures with embroidery and beading seeking to evoke a “sea-change” of lost artifacts transformed by ocean-life. Lewis has forthcoming solo exhibitions at The Philadelphia Magic Gardens (September 2017) and the Parthenon Museum in Nashville, TN (January 2020). Signed first-edition copies of her book “Swarm the World” are available on Kickstarter now through November 19, 2017.

Check out more of her amazing work and projects on her Etsy, website, and 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?

It’s actually a particularly pertinent time in my practice to talk about the role of the internet in my art and business as I have just launched a Kickstarter campaign to promote and sell a new book I am self-publishing. The project “Swarm the World” itself hinges in a huge part on the role of the internet as a community builder, but I will get to that later. One of my friends, upon hearing all the steps that I had been through to make the physical proof copy of the book in his hands, noted that in almost any other circumstance there would have been teams of people working to produce a similar end result. This got me thinking and ended up sparking a few paragraphs that begin my Kickstarter Campaign story and I think are pertinent to this question:

"I am a full time artist. What that really boils down to is that I am my own boss and there is no one to delegate to. First, I am an artist. I invent new processes and create cultural content. But, to be an artist in the 21st century, I also have to be a web designer. I learned to code in order to best display and share my work online. I became a graphic designer and photographer in order to present my pieces in a clear and compelling manner. Then, once I had the idea for this project, I became an organizer. I created databases of addresses and mobilized people on a global scale. After the images came back from the participants, I learned how to design a book from scratch. Then, to promote the project I became my own videographer and animator.

Next, I will be a publicist. I will pitch my work to media outlets online and in print. Finally, I will work the mail room. I will process, prepare and ship out all these books to your homes. An artist is never just an artist."

To me, the internet is an amazing resource, but it is also always hungry. Hungry for more images of better quality and brighter backgrounds, for more complex interfaces, like mobile-friendly website designs, and above all for more content. I think as an artist if you can keep up with even some of these demands, you really have a chance to get your work to a wider audience.

One important lesson I have learned, though, is that you need to want to make what you feed the web. I love solving problems, especially visual problems, so web, graphic and book design are exciting challenges for me. On the other hand, I hate Twitter and I’m really starting to question Facebook, so I don’t force myself to engage on those platforms. Bottom line: if you can see this type of engagement as an extension of your artistic practice that is also in service of the sustainability of your practice, then try it out. You never know who might discover you. Seriously.

Coming back to the project. For Swarm the World I used the internet to find collaborators on a global scale. Since 2012 I have been hand-stitching small magnets to the bellies of my stiffened fabric cyanotype butterflies. Thus empowered, these little creatures can alight on metal objects or surfaces without leaving a trace. So began my ever evolving piece: The Swarm. I started with 200, but every few months that number grew. In this first stage of the project I was installing butterflies around my home town of Indianapolis, IN and I would take them with me whenever I traveled. The installations were ephemeral, lasting only 15-20 minutes, and I documented them with my camera. The blog I started soon filled up with hundreds of images of swarms of blue butterflies on fences, garage doors, telephone poles etc.

By the Spring of 2014, I had shown the butterflies in various gallery contexts, and their number had risen to 4,000, but I still felt that they had more to offer. What I wanted was to expand the pool of people who got to experience what I did with the butterflies — the selection of a place or object to swarm, the swarming process, photographing the results and engaging with strangers who happened to walk by— not just the images of the swarms on the internet. The idea came to me while on vacation in Istanbul, Turkey. I brought a few butterflies with me, and my friend and I were really enjoying discovering a new city through butterfly swarms. It was during the second night when I couldn’t sleep that I realized something: while I could not afford to travel the world with my butterflies, I could connect with people who already lived in diverse geographies and cultures and sent them the butterflies. So Swarm the World was born.

It is clear to me that this project would not have gotten off the ground as quickly as it did without the internet. A few key articles and blog posts explaining what I was looking for and I was flooded with over 400 participant email requests. After three years of coordinating schedules and international shipping, my 120 final participants sent me thousands of images of their swarms from 45 different countries and all seven continents. The resultant book is much more than an art book. It is an artifact of collaboration and trust with strangers I met through the web. I gave my art to them, knowing all the things that could go wrong, and what they gave me in return is truly magic.

In a separate branch of my practice, I use Etsy as a forum to sell my work that is designed for the home. I recently made a collection of affordable hand-sewn glow-in-the-dark faux-taxidermy sculptures geared towards integrating into peoples lives and not a gallery context. I wanted to use some new mold-making and casting skills that I had developed in order to make forms that are strong and less labor-intensive. I could go on a whole tangent about labor, but essentially, while I enjoy designing and building my forms, I especially love the stitching of the skin. By implementing these new techniques, I was able to significantly cut down the time it took to get to the sewing stage. I wanted these works to be playful and freed from more rigorous standards of concept. They are little beacons, night-lights, or just curious companions. I love making them, and unlike some of my larger sculptures, they are scaled for people living in apartments.  


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 find a lot of inspiration on Instagram. How much of it filters into my work in the studio I am not sure, but that does not mean that is doesn’t nourish me in other ways. What I am drawn to is getting a little dose of the lives of makers all over the world. Through Instagram you can go on studio visits with both famous and emerging artists alike. For me, it proves a simple truth: that, as artists, we go to work everyday just like everyone else, we are not mythic beings, untouchable and misunderstood. We drink coffee, have pets, and children and we live full engaged lives. Seeing this every day on my phone doesn’t feel like a distraction because it affirms to me that my choice in life is valid and that thousands of other people are working through the same challenges and setbacks as I am. And more, that I can reach out to them as ask for advice. All the above has helped my grow and develop my philosophy as an artist.

As for direct inspiration, as a sculptor, I am really inspired by process. It seems like ages ago now, but when I was first introduced to the cyanotype process before my last year of High School, I was captivated. I loved its history, I loved that you mixed the chemicals together yourself, I love that you painted it onto watercolor paper with beautiful Japanese brushes and I loved that you could make you own negative from xeroxes or found leaves. Ever since, I have been pushing that process, learning new things about it and finding innovative uses for it. My double sided cyanotype fabric butterflies are one example. Indeed, a huge epiphany came when I discovered that you could buy fabric pre-treated with the chemical. That became the basis for my switch to making sculptures with textile skins which have since evolved in many new directions.

I am currently reading The Haystack Reader: Collected Essays on Craft, 1991-2009, and a line from Christopher Rose’s essay really stuck out to me. He says “We could say that time is ‘folded up’ in the craft object. In a sense, increased time gives increased dimensionality.”  (p. 237) He is speaking not only of experiencing an art object, but also of slowing down to understand material processes. His words are also an apt way of describing how I become inspired. There are so many new things to be found in novel materials or the combination of known materials, you just have to take the time to dive in.

At the moment, the materials that are activating my discovery are plaster gauze and felt. Those may sound like crazy combination, but they work quite well together in creating strong, durable sculptures that also have moments of softness embedded directly into them. This is essential because when I sew the fabric around the form, I need places where I can throw in a few stitches and secure the textile ‘skin’ in place. I have found more and more, that my sculptures must be made with a sensitivity to the textile that will eventually cover them. And this necessity inspires me just as much as a visit to the Greek / Roman wing of the MET Museum does.

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

Tying into what I said in the previous question, finding my voice has always been about curiosity and experimentation. I have landed where I am now not only because I make work in a novel way, but also, and equally, because it fulfills the needs of my hands. I mentioned earlier that I was reading a book of writing collected by Haystack, and that place, The Haystack Mountain School of Craft, has been a huge influence on my voice. I have attended workshops there as a student, work-study and technical assistant, and each new relationship with the school has given me new skills to apply to my practice. It has also provided a physical counterpart to my virtual community of makers on Instagram. Community and context are essential to honing your voice as an artist and anything you can do to expand them will be beneficial.

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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 I have, particularly with my butterfly Swarm project. My general thinking is that no one is really going to have the patience to truly replicate what I do and if there are low-quality copies out there, they only make my work look better in comparison. But that attitude may only be because I have never encountered anyone actually making money from a market that I have not reached with work that looks like mine.

In general, when I see a cloud of blue butterflies that was created after 2013 (when images of my project began to go viral), first I acknowledge that it could be a coincidence. I was not the first artist to swarm insects and so obviously I won’t be the last. Second, I look to see who is making them. I have had many students reach out to me to ask about my process, and I am very open with them. All artists learn from copying to a certain extent, and I think it is natural. What really matters, and as I said what I have yet to really encounter, is someone who is making money from work that has direct ties to innovations that were clearly mine. Yet, I think if this did happen, I would probably let it go. I believe in being open about my work and process on the internet. If 99% of the time that openness helps other artists grow or understand their own work better, or draw collectors into my unique processes and 1% of the time people take advantage of it, then I still feel like it’s well worth it.

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

My advice is to carve out a space in your life, both temporal and physical, where you just show up and do your artistic work. A room of one’s own is still essential. Also, know that your creative impulses are not an ornamental novelty. As a collective, we as artists make culture and that is important work even if it isn’t always reflected in a paycheck. More, in the service of our creative community know that you can always try to reach out to other artists and ask for advice, and those other artists if you are reading this, please also take the time to respond.

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

David Atlmejd is always making amazing work, and for anyone interested in materials he is always pushing things to new places

Loie Hollowell and Corydon Cowansage both have amazing painting practices. If you need color inspiration check them out.

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com  

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com

 

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com  

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com

 

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com

Check out more of Tasha's "swarm the world" book project at www.SwarmtheWorld.com

All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Sara Barnes of Brown Paper Bag

Sarah Benning

Sara Barnes // Artist and Blogger // Baltmore, Maryland


 Sara Barnes is an embroiderer and freelance writer specializing in illustration, art, and craft. She has her MFA in Illustration Practice and is obsessed with finding the latest and greatest in the field, which she shares through her blog, Brown Paper Bag. 

Learn More at www.brwnpaperbag.com and be sure to check out her Instagram.

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1. The way that we consume culture is rapidly changing in the modern age and the internet and social media outlets have become very useful tools that let artists promote their own work. Could you talk about the role that social media plays in your own business and if and how the internet has affected your own illustration practice?

I can't understate the importance of social media in my business and illustration practice. It is my only marketing tool and the way in which I connect with a community of makers and illustrators. I've gotten commissions because of my Instagram account, and for my blog, Brown Paper Bag, social media is the primary way that I share posts I've written. Unless one of my posts or artwork is posted on social media, I feel like it's just in some infinite Google abyss. Outlets like Facebook, Instagram, etc. are places where they can live. 

The internet provides me endless inspiration. While this is helpful, it's also paralyzing at times. How does someone do anything original when so many different styles, techniques, etc. are being shared through social media? Because of it, I've learned the importance of getting offline and finding inspiration from things outside the virtual world—to live in your own mind for a while and see what comes of it; this goes for my artwork as well as my blog. For this reason, I find long plane rides helpful. You're without the internet and have time to think!

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2. How do you source the work that you feature on your blog?  Do you have a research process as to make sure you aren’t promoting a directly derivative or stolen works or designs?

I mostly use Instagram to look for artists, embroiderers, illustrators, etc. to feature on my blog—sometimes Pinterest and Behance, but I love the communities that form on Instagram. I don't have a formal research process to finding content, but it is important that I stay up on current trends so that I can identify who is producing authentic content and creations and who is just, at best, taking advantage of what's en vogue—and at worst, people who are ripping off hardworking creatives. 

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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, do you ‘shop’ for work on social media? Have you encountered copies any of the artists' works you've featured on your site and how do you react to it? 

I use Pinterest and Instagram as a place to get acquainted to new artists and makers, as well as to keep up with what my favorite people are doing. I wouldn't say I 'shop' for work; when looking for an artist or illustrator to feature, I look for pieces, techniques, or projects that I feel a genuine connection to.

Proper credit to the correct artist is so important—especially when social media is concerned. If I see an individual incorrectly attributing an image, I correct them by telling them who the actual artist is. Often, it's as simple as the person just not knowing who created it, and not taking the time to research it further.

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4. Do you have any advice for creatively minded shops or blogs in regards to ethically sourcing the work that they promote?

Research, research, research. Be obsessed with whatever genre of art/design/craft you're interested in. Get to know the people in the communities and creative circles so you know the essence of who they are. 

Also, don't be afraid to trust your instincts. If you see something and think "that looks like something I've seen before..." then it probably is. At that point, you've got to make the decision whether or not you want to promote that person or shop. 

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

I love looking at embroidery Instagram accounts. Some of my current favorites are @yesstitchyes@elizabethpawle, and @smeldridge. For illustrators, @ohkiistudio@isabellefeliu, and @jordansondler (who looks like she's always living her best life). The House That Lars Built inspires me to make all the things, and Quipsologies has a great mix of design, illustration and art. 

And @pearl_meets_world just makes my heart happy. 

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Craft With Conscience: Laura Berger

Sarah Benning

Laura Berger // Painter // Chicago, IL


 Laura is a visual artist living and working in Chicago.  Featuring figurative imagery and dreamlike, minimalistic environments, her current work is centered around themes of self understanding, interconnectedness, and our collective search for meaning.  She has exhibited her paintings around the US and abroad, and also does editorial illustration work, murals, ceramic sculpture, and animation.

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

Photo Credit: Marta Sasinowska

Photo Credit: Marta Sasinowska

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 huge role in my professional life.  It has allowed me to connect with people from all over the world, for people to accidentally stumble upon my work, and has served as a way for me to link up with interesting projects and exhibitions.  It seems crazy to think about how different the promotional approach is for artists now as compared with the past. I think it's much more streamlined, but perhaps also more overwhelming and random.  I also sell my work online both through my own website and through the websites of the galleries I work with, so the internet is a fundamental part of me being able to make a living and support myself.  I'm very grateful for it.  It also drives me insane, as I know it does all of us.  Sometimes I don't always feel like sharing what I'm working on -- the whole creative process feels somewhat intimate and vulnerable, and it can take a degree of bravery or detachment to post your work publicly and jump into that immediate feedback loop with strangers.  That being said, it can also be very useful to do so.  It's a complicated relationship for sure :)  but overall extremely beneficial.  I feel lucky to be working in a time when we have this tool to help carve out our own little corners to share our work and build connections.

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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?

For me, inspiration comes mostly from random little moments.  It's usually nothing earth-shattering but rather subtle things like a pattern on a brick wall, the texture of something, or a color combination that can be the spark of a new idea.  Travel is a huge source of inspiration for me, I think mostly because it gets me out of my comfort zone so I'm noticing things in a more mindful and engaged way than normal.  I follow travel, architecture, and fashion accounts on Instagram for the months when I'm pretty much stuck in my studio for 14 hours a day - at least I can still see new things that I've never seen before.  I also tend to get a lot of ideas in quiet moments or spaces between things, when I'm not thinking at all.  I use the internet for research when I want to know what a specific plant looks like, for example, or the shape of a particular kind of building.  Since my work isn't super realistic, that's usually just a jumping off point for me but it definitely helps with the process.

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

  Inspiration can be a tricky thing -- we're in a new era with this as we're all constantly ingesting so much visual information and we're also now so much more keyed in to what other people all over the world are doing creatively --  there's inevitably going to be some overlap just because of trends and everyone drinking the same internet punch together.  I'm sure in the 1800s there were artists doing similar things in different parts of the world and they didn't even know about it.  I try not to get overly hung up on all of this as everyone has their own voice and style, even if there are similar elements or themes.  I figure I'm likely on to the next thing and hopefully moving forward creatively by the time someone would be potentially copying something I've done in the past.  It's obviously a huge concern if someone pulls your work and does a direct copy of it for some kind of personal gain -- that definitely feels awful.  Something that I find troubling with the internet sharing of images lately is how companies will pull artists' images and use them to promote their business or product on Instagram without permission.  They may tag you, which I guess makes them think it's ok.  It's a definite challenge and a huge frustration when the artist has no say in how or where their images are used, and for what purpose.  My images have shown up on the craziest stuff and it creates a correlation that I had no intention or interest in making and that feels gross.  The second piece of this issue is that illustration /art / design are actual professions and the professionals deserve payment just like a plumber or an electrician does.  No one ever asks their electrician to work for "exposure".  When companies are pulling content for free to use for promotional purposes, this really devalues the illustration industry.   That's a big concern for me, as I know it is for many other creative industries as well right now.  I'd like to do a PSA about this. Is this my PSA?

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

I think I could always use some advice myself haha.  But if I were to say advice, I would say: work really hard and all the time and keep making new work and trying new things.  I think persistence is key.  Not that I know the key because there are challenges all the time when you're working for yourself and I'm always finding myself in a new confusing place.  I've recently come to a realization that I'm never going to "figure it out" and it's probably never going to feel easy.  I think at one point I thought that would eventually happen, but it's kind of a relief to let go of that and settle into understanding that this is just going to be a perpetual hustle :)

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

Is everyone following chillwildlife on Instagram?  It's my favorite.  I feel like animals are keeping me going right now with all of the madness in the world.  They're like the one pure and real thing we can count on to always be just pure and real, and I mostly want to spend my whole life looking at animals.  If they're being chill, even better.

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Images provided by the artist

 

Craft With Conscience: Rachel Edler / Noble Kinfolk

Sarah Benning


Rachel Edler // Embroidery Artist // Berlin, Germany


Rachel Edler, owner of Noble Kinfolk is a textile artist from Bristol currently residing in the bright lights of Berlin. She creates her textile works by using the technique, free motion embroidery. It was a technique she discovered whilst studying textiles in college when she was 17, and something she has done ever since. However, it was only when she moved to Berlin that it began to turn into something more than a hobby. Her passion for hoarding bright and colourful fabrics injects a flash of vibrance in her portraits, which are mostly of women in contemplative states, an ode to the busyness of life as a modern day woman, being pulled in different directions. Her favourite pieces to create are her commissioned portraits of people, she loves trying to capture people's individual characteristics in stitch.

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

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

 The internet has played a big part in my creative life, it was my first leap into showing people my work. I have been sewing for a long time but it was something I regarded more as a hobby, using it as my own personal therapy and for occasional gift giving. I didn’t have the confidence in myself or my work to share to galleries, shops and other outlets. Instagram gave me the opportunity I needed to share my work, it gave me confidence from the positive feedback from people and great connections with other creatives that I don’t think I would have got otherwise. It also connected me with the lovely owners of the wonderful shop Amodo, where I now sell a lot of my work.

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

I mostly find inspiration for my work from photographs, usually from magazines, I love stitching portraits the most, trying to capture an emotion using a sewing machine can be hard, it is not as delicate as hand embroidery but it is so rewarding when you get it right.
 

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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?

As far as I know I have only had one incident where my work was appropriated and put online but luckily for me it was sorted out amicably. I think it is something that can be a worry, especially as like most creatives I put a little bit of my soul in each of my works, but I also think that the online creative community is full of so many positives, it’s worth taking that risk.

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

 My advice would just be to do it, share your work, connect with other creatives. I am part of a collective in Berlin called the Berlin Kreativ Kollectiv, a group formed of creatives in Berlin and it has been so helpful for me starting my own business to be able to ask questions and be around people that are in a similar situation and I’ve made friends through it too. Find out if there is a group near where you live and get involved. Doing the creative thing can be scary but it’s so much easier when you can connect with like-minded people who can offer you support and encouragement.

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

 At the moment I am looking at Instagram a lot so I’ll share some of my favourite accounts, although I love embroidery my favourite accounts are usually artists working in a different medium.

 I love the work of @dirtyliketheweeds, her drawing style is so unique and beautiful.

 The beautiful weavings of @moandmum

 I absolutely adore the paintings of @bobbyandtide

 @thediggingestgirl and@rarepress create the most wonderful prints.

 Of course @bkkkollectiv, a feed full of amazing artist’s work

 And my talented younger brother who creates awesome illustrations @jamiedlerillustration

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Craft With Conscience: Tara Guluska

Sarah Benning

Tara Galuska // Paper Artist // New Westminster, BC, Canada


Tara is a paper artist whose delicate and intricate miniature paper plant artworks explore interior spaces and the plant owners themselves. Born in Zimbabwe in 1984, Tara spent her early childhood in Zambia before moving to Australia. She now lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and two cats (and many plants). Over the last two years Tara has built a thriving art practice and business and creates artworks for clients from all over the world. In addition, she works with select brands to create custom work for their projects including Urban Outfitters, The Land of Nod and last year she lent her paper engineering skills to a commercial for Tide.

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

Photo by: Britney Berrner  @britneyvb

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 artist’s lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

I love the internet! It's given me so much and plays a huge role in the business side of my art career. It's where I get the majority of my opportunities and where most of my clients and collectors find me too.

As much as I love it though I do feel more of a desire to define my boundaries around it for myself and my creative work especially lately.

I'm creating some new work right now and really feel a desire to cocoon and I don't want to share it because I'm not ready.  I had been putting pressure on myself to share because "that's what you're supposed to do" but had to ask myself why?  I need to be able to make work for a while without any feedback or too much input from others work.

Photo by: Britney Berrner  @britneyvb

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

My life and my experiences are where I find my inspiration! Some recent inspiring adventures include a visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery, ROVE an art walk I also showed work in and a heritage home tour in my neighbourhood. Today I'm going to visit some used bookstores and go on a walk on the Fraser River for a little boost of inspiration. Instagram and all the art available to view online is great but there is nothing like real life inspiration!

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

I had one of those experiences this morning actually! It used to feel like a punch in the gut but now it doesn't get under my skin so much or for as long.

I am only in competition with myself and that is my main focus. I feel so grateful to be a creative person because I am always coming up with new work and ideas and asking myself what is next? Where is my work going? How can I push this?

I don't like being copied but I do like when I have inspired someone to explore their own creativity! That is one of the many things that makes putting my work out there worth it, even if it may mean dealing with a few copies here and there.

Photo by: Nicole Wong @tokyo_to
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4. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

I would not be where I am without the support and accountability that I get from my community and I encourage artists and creative business people to find yours or even make your own!

Being an artist and the sole person working on my business can be very lonely and often overwhelming. It was something I really struggled with and fortunately that turned around when I found THRIVE a community for female visual artists.

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Photo by: Nicole Wong @tokyo_to

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

Some artists I am very excited by at the moment include @jonburgerman, Natalie Baxter and @aimeehennybrown. Also while it is not specifically an art account @chillwildlife is everything good about the internet!

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Photo by: Nicole Wong @tokyo_to
Photos by: Nicole Wong @tokyo_to

All photos provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Zemer Peled

Sarah Benning

Zemer Peled // Sculptor // Los Angeles CA


Zemer Peled's work examines the beauty and brutality of the natural world. Her sculptural language is formed by her surrounding landscapes and nature, and engages with themes of memories, identity, and place. The association of porcelain with grace, refinement and civilization gets turned on itself when it is broken down into shards and the brutality of its jagged edges is juxtaposed with its insistent fragility. The material becomes both violent and beautiful, hard but breakable. When seen in the organic formations of Peled’s structures, a whole for the shards is recreated, this time estranged from its original context of neatness, tradition and cultivation but nonetheless unified by an overall cohesiveness of movement and composition.

Peled (b. 1983) was born and raised in a Kibbutz in the northern part of Israel. After completing her BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design (Jerusalem), she earned her MA at the Royal College of Art (UK). In recent years, her work has been exhibited internationally, including such venues as Sotheby's and Saatchi Gallery (London), Eretz Israel Museum (Tel Aviv), Nelson-Atkins Musuem of Art (Kansas City), among others.  Her work is in many collections around the world. 

Check out more of her amazing work on her instagram, website, or Facebook

Photo by: Cristina Schek

Photo by: Cristina Schek

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

The internet is an incredible tool for artists - especially with things like Instagram because it’s so visual. Through it I’ve been able to meet new people and get to see and learn about so many new artists. And not just artists - Instagram makes it possible for people in all kinds of fields to visually show their passion - I love looking at not only artists but also accounts of archaeologists, scientists, national parks etc. for inspiration.

Instagram is definitely my number one social media platform. It’s a great tool for collectors, galleries, and museums to find my work - I think every artist should have it. Sometimes it’s better than a gallery because way more people look at it than will walk through a single gallery space. It’s very powerful tool.

With Instagram I am able to share my thoughts, travels, creative life, and studio practice.

Photo by: Cristina Schek

Photo by: Cristina Schek

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

Everywhere I go, everywhere I look.

 I’m constantly inspired by nature, travelling, and hiking. The first place I go when I visit somewhere new is the botanical gardens. I love gardens, national parks, and taking in huge landscapes - Joshua Tree is my favorite place I found this past year.

I find inspiration on social media as well: new places, ideas for traveling. I don’t actually follow a lot of personal accounts, but I follow all the national parks, antique porcelain dealers, mudlarkers, archaeologists...

I’ve found so many new people and made many new connections through Instagram: I found this guy named Ted Sandling who mudlarks in the Thames - he followed me and I followed him for about a year. Then when I went to London last January I asked if he’d be willing to look for shards together in the river Thames

it was amazing! He has written a fantastic book about all the shards he has found and he is super interesting person. This is why I am a huge fan of Instagram - it is so easy to communicate with people from all over the world.

Photo by: Cristina Schek

Photo by: Cristina Schek

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

Yes I have encountered really bad copies. I love sharing process images from the studio because I find them the most incredible and way more interesting than the final piece but I find myself a lot of times deciding not to share things for that reason. It’s frustrating because lots of people nowadays are copying what they find online and not giving credit to the artist.

I don’t mind people being inspired or using techniques or getting ideas, but I would prefer them to be inspired and find their own voice instead of copying; to take the inspiration a step further with their own vocabulary.

I’m always trying to strike a balance between sharing too much and sharing too little.

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"Black Dream 2"

"Black Dream 2"

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

Be yourself - it’s not a cliché!

Don’t give a shit about what anyone says - follow your passion!

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"Formed Shards" photos © Sylvain Deleu

"Formed Shards" photos © Sylvain Deleu

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

Mudlurker and antiques specialist Ted Sandling 

The Jealous Curator and her fantastic blog and podcast.

Chef Slavatore Martone is sharing inspiring videos showing off his skills.

Archeology Magazine @archeologymagazine because I love archeology

Porcelain specialist: Cyrille Froissart

And another favorite porcelain antique specialist is Andrew Baseman.

Joshua Tree National Park

And finally the hilarious dogs account - dogs poorly photographed @dogspoorlyphotographed

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"Under the Archway"

"Under the Archway"

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Craft With Conscience: Defne Güntürkün

Sarah Benning

Defne Güntürkün // Textile Designer and Embroidery Artist // Istanbul, Turkey


 Defne Güntürkün is a textile design professional. She received her bachelor's and master of arts degrees at Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts in Istanbul. Aside from her professional activities in designing fabric patterns as a freelancer, she has taught herself how to embroider in the past few years. This led to a leap forward in her pursuit of art and creation. Her long–term practical experience in mostly nature–inspired fabric design is reflected in her embroideries. She recently started a small business through her website where she makes her embroideries available for purchase. She has an arts studio in a historic district in downtown Istanbul, where she spends most of her time doing what she loves.

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

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

The internet is a great tool to be in regular contact with people and reach out to the outside world.

It allows individuals like myself to expose their work to the world and facilitates an effortless way of exchanging ideas. I believe I had a chance to utilize the internet to a very large extent in terms of reaching out to people whom I would have never met in real life and share my work with others.

 For example Instagram has helped me a lot. I share my work with others, get reactions, see what is most liked and it directs people to my shop. I can easily say, I built my small business through it. It allowed me to open an online shop which I think is more effective than a physical shop, this way I can reach out to a bigger audience.

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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 does not arise from a single source. I am greatly inspired by the environment that I am interacting with. Nature is an unlimited origin of inspiration which is manifested in my work.

 
Since I have been designing fabric patterns for over 15 years, I have a comprehensive knowledge dealing with color combinations, exploring different kinds of plants, objects, etc., and illustrating them has been helping me a lot with my embroideries. So I think jumping in  between designing patterns and making embroideries is a natural inspiration.

 Most of the time an idea pops up in my mind and I am eager to start exploring it. I sketch very rarely, usually I draw on the fabric right away and see where it takes me. At this point if I need to, I use photos I have taken or searched through internet, such as details of a plant, proportions, etc. One of the things I am paying attention to when I start a new project is that it needs to be unique.
 

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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?
 
When you publish an art piece online, you kind of take the risk for it to be open to public which you cannot follow where it ends up. You can not control whether it will be used without your permission or copied but we all know that there must be a limit to “inspiration”. It is ok to be inspired until a certain extent but when it becomes a direct copy (mostly a sloppy one), that is the place to stop.

 I have been seeing similar works to mine or partially copied works. Although I have chosen not to confront those cases until recently, I found out that two people made exact copies of my work, not just one, but many, strangely on the same day.  My instant reaction was reaching out to those people and asking them to remove the work from all social media. They were even selling the copies and seemed to be proud of coming up with a great idea. I have to admit that it made me angry. So I asked them in a polite way and in the end made sure that they know, if they do not remove the work and keep making new ones, I would take a legal action. 

 How I found out was with the help of great people that notified me. Feeling this support of others is way stronger than the disappointment of my work being infringed.  I receive messages from people when they see a copy of my work, or a post sharing my photo without crediting me, there are other very nice people who makes me feel that I am not alone and there are others also looking out for me.

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


My main advice is to be original. I believe everyone has their own style but sometimes they may be scared to discover it. It may pretend to be easier to look like someone else who has been already successful but it will be a lot more satisfying to create your own unique work and see people appreciate it. This needs a lot of practice and patience but the result is worth it.

 Capturing a good image of your work is as important as the quality of your work if your audience is online. I sometimes see a great artwork but a terrible photo of it, which makes me think that you should definitely pay attention to taking good quality photos of your work.

 About selling your work, I know it is a tough one! Most of the talented artists I know do a great job in art but are bad at marketing. I know it is the nature of being an artist, it is hard to put a price on one's work and deal with the technical parts of marketing your work.  I opened my website a couple of months ago and in the beginning it seemed like too much work that I did not want to deal with. I ignored my fear and went for it, so you can do it too.

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


I am surrounded by artists and it is a great feeling. My husband Benoit Hamet is an illustrator , my best friend and studio partner Gözde Başkent  is a painter. So we share the same studio and they inspire me everyday. We always exchange ideas.

There are so many people I really love to follow and appreciate, just will put some of them here;

Embroidery artists; Danielle Clough,  İrem Yazıcı, Tessa Perlow,  Chloe Giordano , Adam Pritchett

Weawing and embroidery artist Judit Just

Illustrators  Georgina Taylor , Carolyn Gavin , Polina Bright

Fiber artist Dani Ives, Justyna Wolodkiewicz, Liz Payne

Artists Tara Galuska , Yellena James  

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Craft With Conscience: Marine Edith Crosta

Sarah Benning

Marine Edith Crosta // Painter // London UK


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So many! Can I do a ladies special then?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photos by @morganelay

Craft With Conscience: Katy Biele

Sarah Benning

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


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

Check out more of her beautiful work on her websitefacebook, instagram, or Etsy shop.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Trini Guzman from Chile.

 Valeria Faúndez,  From Chile

 Isabelle Feliu, who is an illustrator.

Leah Goren, from NY

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All photos provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Libby Williams

Sarah Benning

Libby Williams // Mixed Media Artist // Luxembourg City


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Laura Agustí

Sarah Benning

Laura Agustí // Illustrator // Barcelona, Spain


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

Check out more of her beautiful work on her instagram, or facebook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos by Sandra Rojo

Craft with Conscience: Jocelyn Gayle Krodman

Sarah Benning

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photos provided by the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Ann Wood / Woodlucker

Sarah Benning

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Madriguera Workshop

Sarah Benning

Madriguera workshop // Ceramic Studio // Galícia, Spain

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have a big favourites list. : )

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

Design and Photo: Ignant.

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

 All images provided by the artists.

Craft With Conscience: Teresa Lim

Sarah Benning

Teresa Lim // Embroidery Artist // Singapore


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I do! Marlene Dumas is my absolute favourite artist.

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

All images provided by the artist

Craft With Conscience: Raquel Martín

Sarah Benning

Raquel Martín // Illustrator // Menorca Spain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All images provided by artist.

Craft With Conscience: Jane Denton

Sarah Benning

Jane Denton Art // Textile Artist // Wellington NZ


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonny Beattie – New Zealand stylist and photographer (Instagram)

Emily Henderson – Stylist, author, blogger (Instagram)

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

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All Images by photographer and stylist Bonny Beattie

Craft With Conscience: Lindsay Stripling

Sarah Benning

Lindsay Stripling // Painter, san francisco, CA

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

Check out her website or Instagram for more work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

All images courtesy of the artist.

Craft With Conscience: Danielle Clough

Sarah Benning

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

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

Photo Credit: Tyler B. Murphy

Photo Credit: Tyler B. Murphy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love the embroidery of Michelle Kingdom

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

The dedication of Jack Fox

The scale and scope of Faith47s work

The colours of Casey Weldon

The humour and honesty of Cecile Dormeau

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

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Craft With Conscience: Sara Boccaccini Meadows

Sarah Benning

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

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog

http://www.designsponge.com/ 

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

Podcast

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

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

Photography

@indiahobson

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

Illustration

http://www.bodiljane.com/

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

Embroidery  

@lockhartembroidery

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

Magazine

http://makersmovement.ca/

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

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