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Craft With Conscience: Hello Tangle

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: Hello Tangle

Sarah Benning

Hello Tangle // Beading and Embroidery // Melbourne, Australia


Hello Tangle is made up of sisters Bibi and Veronica.  Bibi has a background in Illustration, and Veronica in Finance, but they have both had a passion for all things crafty their whole lives, driven mainly by their Mum who is an expert quilter and knitter.  They have worked in many mediums, but feel they have found their groove with their current obsession – what they call freeform beading and embroidery.  

Check out more of their amazing work at their Etsy shop and Instagram

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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?

The internet was originally an additional tool for us, but we feel like it has become more and more important.  It has allowed us to source unusual and unique materials for our pieces, it has connected us to other artists/makers, and has given us a platform via Instagram and Etsy to show and sell our work direct to customers.  One of the ways the internet has positively helped us in a less obvious way is learning new techniques. As one of us is a lefthander we need to look a bit outside of the box so where a book hasn’t been helpful the internet has.  

Something we’ve really been inspired by is how huge mediums like embroidery have become online, with some incredible artists with massive followings really putting to bed that old fashioned view of embroidery being something grandmas do. From a young age we practiced knitting and cross stitch, taught to us by our mum and aunty, which was very “uncool” at the time.  But it feels like there has been a change in that perspective, and we love that.

The instagram community for us has been a huge driver in pushing us and stretching ourselves to places we might not have got to without it.  We’ve made some great online friendships with other makers, and receive so much encouragement from so many people. 

Without the internet, it wouldn’t have been possible to get to where we are now.

Also, Netflix.  Hooray for 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?

Inspiration comes to us in many forms but it usually begins with a feeling of shape, colour or texture. In particular we like to collage with paper scraps, paint, stitching and beads to get some inspo flowing. 

We sometimes find ourselves in a bit of a colour rut, using the same colours over and over, and lately we’ve actually been going back through pictures of our old work to rediscover colours or techniques we have used in the past, and we combine that with whatever we’ve been currently working on to try to create something fresh.  Using ourselves as inspiration…. Sounds a bit strange!!  We also love getting all our beads and sequins out and just looking at them all, trying different colours, sizes and shapes together, trying to find combinations we haven’t used before.  Simple but effective!

It can be a challenge to keep being creative, and social media - in particular Instagram - can enforce a kind of pressure to keep posting new work, improving and growing.  This can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, but it also keeps pushing us.

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

I think being able to bounce ideas off each other and backing each other has allowed us to not feel self-conscious about our work.  We’re self taught and are quite unconventional in our processes so it could be easy for us to feel like we’re outsiders when it comes to embroidery but this is also what makes us unique.  We always say that there’s no wrong way, it’s our way and we stick to that.

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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 either of you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

This is such a huge and sensitive topic, we could talk about it for hours! It’s heartbreaking for artists to have their work copied, and it’s sad that the person doing the copying can ever justify it.

We’ve previously encountered an almost exact copy of one of our earliest pieces.  We were actually surprised by how much it affected us, we felt so hurt and violated.  One of the things that struck us was that out of all the people in the world, it was someone we actually knew personally.  

It has caused us to be mindful of how much we share of our processes and materials.  We really encourage people to find their own style and although that can take time and practice the results are always satisfying when you know the piece is uniquely you.

That early encounter of copying, as awful as it was, actually ended up pushing us to change direction a bit, which is sad in a way, but we stretched ourselves and our creativity and found an outlet in a medium we absolutely love, and feel like we’ve really found our groove.  

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

Take your time, practice and experiment within your medium, you’ll find your own style and it will keep evolving as you grow.

Take regular breaks from the internet.  It can be overwhelming looking at so many others artists work, it can be good to switch off from all of that and go back to what is inside you.

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

 art that we love:

@kelaoke

@kindahkhalidy

@meaganalessio

@mandismoothhills

@kellryan

@rachelcastleandthings

our fave clothing and colour inspo:

@gormanclothing

@dinosaur_designs

for great pics, hilarity and some serious stuff too:

@jengotch

for many many laughs:

@busyphilipps

@sarafoster

@erinfoster

and for general beautifulness:

@bohemegoods

@sfgirlbybay

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All Image provided by the artists