Katherine Entis // Designer and Textile Artist // Portland OR
Katherine Entis is a designer, fiber artist and founder of Soft Century out of Portland, Oregon. Influenced by memories of touch and sight Katherine's work acts as studies of material, color, and composition. Drawing from landscapes both real and imagined, her recent series of knit paintings are an exploration of color and texture that come together as a collection to tell a larger story.
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 has allowed me to connect with makers from around the world. We share business information, contacts, or even just encouragement. Many of my Instagram friends have become real friends who have shown me how to move forward when I've felt stuck. To see so many talented people working hard is inspiring.
When it comes to finding new creative works, social media is a great roadmap to what's happening at any given moment. It's always there for a quick source of visual stimulus, but, more importantly, points me toward works, stores, and shows to go see in person. Pictures and videos are great, but especially in textiles, there's no substitute for being able to get up close and touch something.
2. Where do you find inspiration for your work? In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?
For me, social media is largely a source of ideas for sales models, styling, and marketing, which are a huge part of trying to build a sustainable business. When it comes to my products, however, I find a lot of inspiration in other mediums like furniture, film, animation, illustration, and painting, or even less direct sources like food or landscapes. Before textiles, I studied painting, so that approach to composition has always been a big part of my creative process.
3. How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?
I do my best work when I am able to trust the creative process and not worry too much about outcomes. It took me a long time to truly understand that most of the ideas I have will end up in the trash can--metaphorically, of course! I never throw out material if I can avoid it.
You can't force a good idea. One of the ways that I learned to accept that was by focusing on quantifiable goals and not worrying too much about outcomes. So instead of saying, "I need to make my best pillowcase ever," I try to say, "I'm going to weave two pillowcases by Wednesday." I think long-term success is more about staying focused and working hard than making something that you absolutely love every time you sit down.
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?
Fortunately, my work hasn't been directly copied by anyone that I know of (yet). I occasionally see a new artist who I know is familiar with my work playing with similar concepts, but I would never claim to have invented those techniques in a field as ancient as textiles. To a certain extent, that's part of the process of give and take that goes along with any creative work.
5. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?
Remember that there is always a hidden side to your favorite artists or businesses. Behind what is shared on social media, there are a lot of late nights and self-doubt. No one ever begins as an expert at their craft. You have to start somewhere, and the best way to do that is just to start. Everything you think is cool is being done by someone a lot like you.
All images provided by the artist.