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Craft With Conscience: Alison Rachel of Recipes for Self Love

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: Alison Rachel of Recipes for Self Love

Sarah Benning

Alison Rachel // Illustrator // Amsterdam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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All images provided by the artist