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Craft With Conscience: Emma Duehr of Talking Tushies

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: Emma Duehr of Talking Tushies

Sarah Benning

Emma Duehr // Artist // Portland Oregon


TRIGGER WARNING: This interview contains graphic statics and content about sexual violence.

“Talking Tushies” is a social project by Emma Duehr aiming to discourage future inappropriate or violent actions perpetrated by men in the United States. By creating embroidered patches for the back pocket of women’s pants with sexual assault statistics embroidered upon them Duehr hopes to spread awareness of the problems that many women face on a daily basis. Duehr believes that wearing “Talking Tushies” will make a difference in some men’s behavior by educating the unaware on the horrifying statistics of sexual violence and misconduct in the U.S.  Every time a statistic patch is spotted, she hopes to help save a woman in this country from future sexual harassment. “Talking Tushies” was created to empower women to walk fearlessly and with confidence. 

“I’ve come to the terms that there is no way to stop men from looking at my ass, and this will never change. Therefore, I am starting to use my ass as a goddamn billboard to teach deviant men a lesson. I refuse to walk in fear any longer; I am choosing to walk with confidence that I can make a change in rising sexual assault statistics in our country.” - Emma Duehr

Check out more of her work on Instagram Facebook and her 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 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?

Social networks are fabulous places to advertise your work, collect inspirational works, and to display your portfolio on an easily reached network. My project, “Talking Tushies” is currently dependent on the internet to spread the project to vast lengths. I use the internet as a platform to build relationship with interested buyers and supporters. Utilizing social networks to host conversations with individuals who share similar interests is a great way to get people involved. I post all of my work on many social sites, such as instagram, facebook, tumblr, and my personal website. Interested supports are able to easily contact me with through comments, private messages, and a link to my email. 

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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 main inspiration for my work derives from personal experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Talking Tushies has built an online community for women to share their own stories as well as purchase a pocket patch to get involved. Sharing stories within a social environment allows many women the comfortability to express themselves in ways they never thought they could. The media inspires my work in many ways; ranging from collecting news articles that interest me, to sharing my personal experiences and ideas. 

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

I received my BFA from Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa in 2017 and am currently a graduate student at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. I use my artistic platform to express my views and evoke change; art making has been my primary voice in society for about 8 years. My work aims to start conversations that are difficult to have, but in public environments. My voice is directly heard by my audience,  on subjects that desperately need attention. 

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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?

I have designed an object that many women in our country are interested in supporting, but not all women want to provide payment. I have had 10+ private messages asking if it was “okay to make their own.” I respond saying that “Talking Tushies” is copyrighted in my name and I would appreciate it if they wouldn’t. I am thankful that these women asked before they assumed they could. Some people in our society understand this concept, others unfortunately do not. I am thankful that I have not encountered any problems with idea infringement.

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

Follow your creative flow and don’t force anything; the greatest ideas are born when least expected. Take pictures of all of your work, even the really ‘bad’ ones; those ‘bad’ works might make more sense to you in your future. Take risks; when someone disagrees with you, stand your ground and prosper. Make a community with people that share the same interests as you; the friendly conversations centered around your work leads to the greatest successes.

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

My major networks that base my inspirations:

@beefykate

@riverbirchthreads

@damngoodstich

@velvetsugar

@sallymustang

@nationalparkservice

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All images provided by the artist