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Craft With Conscience: Ann Wood / Woodlucker

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: 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