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Craft With Conscience: Emily Wright of Salt Stitches

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: Emily Wright of Salt Stitches

Sarah Benning

Emily Wright of Salt Stitches // Embroidery Artist // Manchester UK


Emily creates abstract embroidery works with a strong focus on natural textures. Her work to date is inspired by the rugged coastline of North Wales, UK. Her works are a direct response to her photography, focusing on geological variations and plant life found near the sea.

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

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

For me, the Internet has opened me up to a fantastic community of likeminded creatives - both for support and constructive criticism. I find it easier to ask for creative advice from Internet strangers, as it feels less personal and more direct. As far as professional life, it has given me a platform to showcase my work and test the waters so to speak. I’d say 90% of my sales are online so it’s invaluable to me! I actually struggle a lot with imposter syndrome so there is definitely a downside to having easy access to incite creative accounts across all the different platforms, often finding myself comparing my work to others in a negative way. I think ultimately it’s about balance - one instance springs to mind where you would get people commenting on your work, tagging their friends, talking about how they could produce this piece or that piece easily, which can always feel like a blow to the stomach!

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

My inspiration has solely developed from my surroundings. North Wales has become a haven for me in recent months, and that is definitely reflected in my work. Since the inception of Salt Stitches, my pieces have all been a direct response to images of one particular place but having spent a few weeks in Switzerland and having been able to hunt for different textures, I’m really excited about the next batch of new works. It will be interesting, for me, to see if I enjoy the process in the same way or whether somehow they feel less personal? I’m not sure the Internet has impacted my design process too much, although I do find it handy to be able to ask an impartial audience about introducing new products etc. None of this started off as a business for me, I was creating these pieces as a method of self-care, then there was interest, and the rest was history as they say!

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

To be honest, that’s been a tough journey for me. I didn’t pursue a creative path early on because I didn’t feel I would succeed. I was pushed academically from an early age and was taught that following an artistic route was a waste of time (how wrong everyone was 15 years ago!!)  but the last 6 months have been really crazy as far as my self confidence is concerned. I also think I’ve had an easier ride than others, I’m incredibly privileged to have had both financial and emotional support from my family, so I’ve had the time to focus on myself and my work full-time. I know that’s not a luxury that a lot of people have, so I try to be as accessible as possible to anyone that needs help and advice with their own creative journey.

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

It a problem that I think we all have to face at some point. I think in one sense, I’m lucky that my work is quite niche and unusual - along with the fact my pieces take a long time to create - I almost feel like if someone else is willing to put the long hours in they’re almost welcome to walk that line (probably an unpopular opinion I know). I have seen a couple of artists in the last few weeks where I can see obvious similarities, some of my lovely followers seem to send me profiles to look at, but I don’t go hunting for copies. If they’re out there, then I’m blissfully ignorant.

I do find it difficult watching creatives that I admire struggle with blatant theft with designs, but at the same time, I see some artists who create PDF patterns and DIY kits that definitely make it easier for people to infringe on their work. It’s a tough one. I’m definitely a staunch supporter of the community over competition ethos. If someone is copying you’re work, maybe they’re struggling creatively, although that’s not a free pass, approaching people from a place of advice might help to change people’s view?

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

That first leap is scary, I quit my job at a really low point and Salt Stitches emerged as a result, but I wouldn’t recommend the “jumping in at the deep end approach”. It can be incredibly stressful and our brains have a funny way of confusing totally normal worries like money and time, with feelings of low self worth or losing faith in what you’re creating.

If it’s something that you love, throw yourself into it in your free time. Trust yourself, be proud of your work, and have belief that the hard work will pay off (even if it might take a while!) you get out what you put in.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, you’ll be surprised at how willing other creatives will be to offer advice and support if you’re struggling.

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

Emma and her account @potyertitsawayluv are incredible. She is living her philosophy of body positivity and inclusion, and it’s been so lovely to watch her success grow and grow. Same for Lou Foley with her project @arewenearlybareyet, I haven’t quite worked up the courage to submit a nude, but with every one she posts I get a little bit closer!

Absolutely and utterly inspired every day by Stacey and her account @bystaceyjones. She donates a % of every sale to Sarcoma UK to raise awareness after dealing with her Husband’s diagnosis, she is such a huge supporter of fellow creatives and an overall hero of mine.

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All images provided by the artist.