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Craft With Conscience: Justyna Wołodkiewicz

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: Justyna Wołodkiewicz

Sarah Benning

Justyna Wołodkiewicz // Embroidery Artist // Poland

Justyna Wołodkiewicz is a Polish artist specializing in 3 dimensional embroidery. Taking inspiration from her surroundings as well as a strong awareness of her own creative process, she uses vibrant colors and breadth of contrasting textures and shapes to create a finished piece that is both technically complicated and incredibly whimsical. 

Check out more of her amazing work on Instagram and her website


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 definitely widened my horizons. Simply by observing and reading between the lines I got an impression that making a living out of art is possible. Then I tried to walk the way of an artist who wants to sell her art. And it’s been the last year (2017) that I’ve been noticed. That opened the door to selling and what is next is unknown. I’m figuratively standing in the doorway making my mind. I feel my life is shifting.

I know and experience addictiveness of the internet – espiecially social media. It disturbs natural rhythm of life. It takes focus from real life events. Every second of online presence is a second absent from life. Being aware of that I also appreciate the opportunity that I can make my art more accessible – I can show my creations to worldwide audience. I can connect with other artists making wonderful acts of support.  All I need is to balance the good and the bad.

Recent changes of my lifestyle helped to give up on the Internet a little bit and to adjust to new rhythm of stitching. Since I’m living  closer to nature, sustaining the life with my own hands – then I changed my time perception. In the aspect of the whole human life as well as the present moment importance. And the concept that in fact I stitch my own time – the one and only time in one's life – somehow I stitch my life onto the fabric.

I’ve always been a dreamer and I still am despite that times are busier now. I dream simply about creating at my own peace, in freedom, self-centered.


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

It is so hard to distinguish. I believe that all the things that we have ever seen float in our subconscious and that’s what is used in the process of creating art. Going further this way our creations are hybrids of things and art and people that we came across.

But there are some very individual interests (unexplainable) that draws us to one objects more than the other. There are many different reasons that we create. For me my favorite objects are faces and eyes and they have always been (since early forever). Also it doesn't mean I will stick to them for the rest of my life. My main motivation is a need of expressing my soul life – messy emotions and thoughts.

I’m aware that seeing art online influence my perception and ideas. Let’s describe it as getting an impulse of positive energy every time I see some genius artwork. I feel I’m at the party and I can’t wait to add my own piece (more or less genius).

Also the things that often inspire me are some other artists' persistence for instance when they create something very individual, far away from current trends in craft and art market.

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

I understand the creative voice as the way I use colors, shapes, textures in my artworks. It is certain style and character that can be recognizable and one of a kind.

To get to the point I am now - first I was growing up surrounded by my parent's art-that's the first inspiration served with milk.  Very early I was fascinated by linear drawings. Preferring naive and primitive to realistic. Always into vivid colors and meticulous details. And that pretty much hasn't changed since then. I didn't study art at the academy - this way I missed a lot of new perspectives and also strengthened my inner voice (uninterrupted by critique). All the way I've seen art out there that I memorised. Those particular pieces that resonated with me the most got treasured forever in my brain. They are the core inspiration - often acting from unconsciousness.

I've noticed some new things showing up in my artistic journey.  That must be a sign of an ever evolving creative voice. My recent piece is a good example. I created embroidery that measures 38 x 51 cm (about 13.25 x 25.5 inches). That is a huge contrast to 6 inch hoop. To accomplish it I worked for about 5 months. By making a huge piece in the span of a few months in small daily doses I discovered a new perspective of time.  My focus sharpened – focus that I put on my work. It was also my personal challenge to try out my persistence and patience.

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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?

In that matter I’m oversensitive – maybe because I witness very often infringement. Luckily I did not find my works copied. Just a few people strongly inspired. It is maybe because my technique is quite complicated. Anyone who tried to push the needle through the hole in the clay would understand.

The problem of stealing ideas is widespread just like thievery in general. And I don’t mean only those who steal our wallet on the street. I also mean huge organizations, governments, systems. They do treat people unfairly. The courts aren’t justice. Forget a justice for an artist whose work was copied.

This is how things are on our planet.

Besides whatever we feel about it the action is still possible. It is important to educate. Talk with people about the damaging effects of copying and the thivery. Just by being conscious about spending money and earning money we can change the situation. Important is to support small business not the big companies . To manage your household budget well – so well you won’t need loans – don’t support banks if you can. To not buy unnecessary things (ha, ha, that's challenging one). Do things yourself – it is healthier and eco-friendly. The power of collective can change the world. The society that is conscious – recognize the evil and support what is good.

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

Here I would love to  share a simple life philosophy:

'You need to know what you are doing and what is it for. Think about it in lifetime perspective.' (by M.)

Often values that we attach to certain things change in life long perspective. The act of imagining what do we really need considering the next 50 years can help us understand real importance. It can also help us to be less demanding of life luxuries. And most importantly it leads us to doing the right thing now.

Besides I love these grains of wisdom that sticked to me recently:

*Demanding that your creative spirit earns money can be harmful for the spirit. (not precisely quoted from
Big Magic by E.Gilbert)

*The success is when you painted something you have never seen before. (by Alyssa Monks)

And my own attitude that I do implement: Stay persistent in creating. Enjoy creating art.

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

An artist who inspired me with my early polymer clay sculptures (and also taught me a lot through her amazing video tutorials) is @petitplat.

Miniature architectural landscapes by @byrosa blow my mind every time.

The amazing origami master @icarus.mid.air that I had a privilage to collaborate with.

In textile world, especially those who work in three dimensions I love @thatembroiderygirl, @van_der_winkel,, @cabbagesandnettles_ @amandinebouet

Embroiderers that I can’t get enough of @fiance_knowles, @jessicasorentang @katie_wells_, @mother_eagle_embroidery, @lisa_smirnova and many many more!

I love paintings by @bradrkunkle

I’m always intrigued by artist @franki_e

One of my favourite artists is

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