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Craft With Conscience: Liz Payne

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: Liz Payne

Sarah Benning

Liz Payne // textile and fiber artist // Sydney Australia

Liz Payne is an artist from Sydney, Australia. With a background in the visual arts and graphic design, Liz combines this experience with her love of textiles & embroidery to produce work that breaks the stereotypes of embroidery as a medium. Often working on a large scale, Liz’s work blends hand painted fabric with thread, beads and sequins whilst she explores colour, shape and pattern, drawing references from an ancient world and bringing it into the today. Liz regularly exhibits her work in Australia and abroad, and has recently collaborated with the iconic fashion label Gorman to produce clothing, homewares & accessories of her vibrant artworks.

Check out more of her amazing work on her website or 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 definitely plays an integral role, and not just for artists, but for everyone these days. It’s fast, free and easy to use. I was never interested in any of the ‘social media’ platforms a few years ago, instead being more reliant on the traditional methods of getting your art out there. I was finally convinced though, and I’m so glad I did. I was initially drawn to Instagram because it could act as a portfolio of my work, which was great especially in the early days before having my website.

An obvious advantage is having your work seen by people all over the world just at the touch of your fingertips. This can be great as it can lead to opportunities that might not have come your way if you didn’t put yourself out there. However, the (major) downside to that is your work also gets seen by people who unfortunately will copy it, and infringement becomes an issue. I still love using Instagram though - I find when a lot of the time you work by yourself, it’s nice to get feedback from people - and that’s quite encouraging & motivating. I feel lucky to have connected with so many other creatives who are on this platform.


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

 I get inspiration from multiple faceted disciplines. I’m immensely inspired by historical influences such as the beautiful cloths, textiles and beaded artefacts from countries such as Nigeria, Africa, Guatemala, Mexico & Uzbekistan. I’m also inspired by the latest in design from everything fashion, interior & furniture and I like to keep up to date with what’s new. Drawing on the past and pairing it with what’s new, or not even ‘new’ yet, but what’s next - sums up my work aesthetic as well.

The internet has been an important tool in opening doors in which these inspirations can be so easily accessed. Now, we are able to virtually visit exhibitions that are on in New York, research artefacts from galleries across the world, be able to look at rugs from Morocco... Now more than ever, we literally have access to everything. I regularly use sites like Pinterest to access imagery to some of these things, but I think it is still so important to not just rely on that - instead making the effort to go visit galleries, get inspiration from books, music, and just life in general.


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

 Practice. And time! But I think I am still learning and establishing my creative voice. It’s a journey, and a process. I think with everything, practise leads to evolvement - and I hope I never stop wanting to learn, experiment and push myself further. I think when you are developing your own creative voice, it’s important to stick to what you believe in - for me I like pushing the boundaries of what is possible, and am always striving to push myself into developing something new.

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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 unfortunately been subject to seeing copies of my work. It can be really disheartening, and it’s a shame how frequently it happens. There is a lot of work that goes into creating an original artwork that you don’t always see, especially with Instagram, where it is a curated selection of images we choose to share. All the sketches & drawings, experiments, and the ups and downs of the creative process - all these steps contribute to the end image you see - and when someone sees that final image, then takes that idea and reproduces it - it takes away from the original. It can be frustrating but it’s also a reality, so I just try to rise above it and not let it bother me too much.

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

 Stick to your guns! Believe in yourself and your own aesthetic. Don’t feel the rush of trying to keep up with other people, just run your own race.

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

 The tip of the iceberg of a few of my favourite instagram accounts:

 @mca_australia - One of the galleries in Sydney I frequent a lot

@camillewalala - I’m a sucker for print and colour and this lady’s got it in spades

@_sightunseen_ - The best of what’s new in design and art

@leahreenagoren - I’m obsessed by everything she makes

@archdigest - The International Design Authority

@delmoregallery - Australian gallery with an amazing Aboriginal art collection

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All images provided by the artist