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Craft With Conscience: Anna Hultin of Olander CO. Embroidery

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: Anna Hultin of Olander CO. Embroidery

Sarah Benning

Anna Hultin // Embroidery Artist // Loveland, CO

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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All Images provided by the artist.