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Craft With Conscience: Irem Yazici

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: Irem Yazici

Sarah Benning

Irem Yazici of Baobab Handmade // Embroidery Artist // Eskisehir Turkey


Irem Yazici is a self taught fiber artist based in Eskisehir Turkey. Her artistic journey began in 2014 with her interest in craft and she has kept exploring her artistic-self through the medium of embroidery.

Her studio practice is divided into two parts: Making embroidered accessories such as pins and creating personal artworks. Her work is a combination of her illustration and embroidery practices, where she explores through color and texture. She creates worlds out of her surreal visions where magical things happen. 

Irem Yazici.jpg

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 the reason I'm able to do what I do. If i wouldn't have it, I don't think I could have made a living from embroidery. To be able to share my works through social media gave me some amazing opportunities which I couldn't imagine; such as working with global brands and galleries. Back in the old days, to be known as an artist/ maker was up to appreciation of some authorities of the art/design community which was discouraging to become an artist. Since the chance of exposure were low and you know you need to make a living as an artist to be able to keep create non stop. I know so many people who has chosen another path rather than focusing to practise their art because of these reasons. There are many specific audiences and everything has a buyer in this world and now by the help of social media everyone has the opportunity to meet their specific audience.

I also think internet is the reason that embroidery has finally got to be recognized as an art branch and find the value it deserves. Now we are able to access so many artists' works and the community has realized there's something more in this medium.

Irem Yazici, Magic  Carpet Ride on a Pink Night, 2017, 5''x5'' , Hand stitch.JPG
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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?

In the process of designing accessories such as pins, I do make a research on the internet.  When I'm preparing a specific collection of pins it helps me a lot by giving me ideas to stitch something that I've never seen in my life such as a kind of frog that lives in the rainforest. For my one of a kind artworks, I can say they are more related to my real life. It all starts with a vision appear in my head in random moments but also anything can stimulate my mind such as a music, my spiritual journey, or a specific plant and sometimes some materials can flash ideas into my mind. Most of my works are telling a story since they can also be visions of the tales I made up. When I get stuck on imagining the surroundings around the basic idea I get help from the internet where I have pinterest boards called things like gardens, places, trees, birds where I gathered my favourites.

Irem Yazici, Celebration in the Forest, 2016, 4''x4'', Hand Stitch.JPG

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

 I feel like finding your creative voice is like finding your home in a labyrinth. It can be tricky and a hard way to find. You sometimes follow a path but you realise that it's not taking you to your home. Actually everytime you try, you get closer to your home. I can say it's just a result of hardwork and non stop effort. Stitch by stitch, piece by piece it starts to have a characteristic face.

Irem Yazici, A Night in the Haunted Forest, 2016, 4''x4'', Hand stitch.JPG

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 saw  some copycats of mine. Some were selling those works and some were not but I think both of them are frustrating. When I saw them I felt like someone was wearing a mask of my face and pretending to be like me which gave me a creepy feeling. Dealing with them can be exhausting but when I come across them it charges me to do better and level up. 

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

The best thing I learned so far is to trust my own vision. We may sometimes feel influenced so much by others and feel like we are lost. Try to give an ear to your inner voice because it's actually always there and you know you hear it, don't ignore it. It's the thing that enlightens your very own path that takes you to your 'home'. 

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

At the moment I enjoy these artists' works:

@sophianarett

@ninniluhtasarri

@kjcardigan

@damselfrau

@kimikahara

@aronwiesenfeld

@davorgromilovic

@pauladuro

@staceyrozich

@adriancoxart

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All Images provided by the artist