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Craft With Conscience: Nadia Nizamudin

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: Nadia Nizamudin

Sarah Benning

Nadia Nizamudin // Mixed media artist // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Nadia Binti Nizamudin is a visual artist, working primarily with textile painting, embroidery, and mixed media collage. Her artwork focuses on found, reclaimed or recycled materials and is always represented by bold and bright colors. Both her collage and textile painting carry narratives around loss, relationships and hope.

Check out more of her amazing work on Instagram.


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?

Like many artists these days, the internet is a vital element in the branding (and business) of my art. I started out as a printmaker and I have a small printmaking lifestyle shop running and how I used the internet for that business is different than how I use it for my art. I have been painting and doing embroidery and collage work for a while, since I was in university and never felt that I could pursue this seriously. When I decided to though, I approached the internet (mainly Instagram) as a vessel of self monitoring and progression, also to find a community of like minded creatives and artists. I resisted self promotion and branding for the longest time until one day I realized that although the idea of being 'discovered' is romantic, in reality, especially at this day and age, you have to do the dirty work yourself. No one is going to see your work and appreciate it unless you push it out there. And the moment I went in that direction, good things started coming my way.


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

To be honest I find this to be a really difficult question to answer. Most of the time, I have no idea where I got my inspiration from. I am jealous of artists that seem to get inspired by being in nature, or a piece of history, or buildings. I do notice that I am heavily triggered by the concept of grief and loss and heartbreak. They do not directly translate to my work but instead the raw emotions will spur my creative energy for a long time. One of my favorite textile piece was sparked by a beautiful poem from W.S. Merwin. I kept repeating it in my head, maintaining the mood until I finished the piece (it took a month). When it comes to social media though, I do take whiffs off work of artists that I love. Sometimes I am inspired by their use of color and imagery, which will make me choose mine, or I see their technique and think of ways of how I could reiterate the style and make it my own.


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

Do I have a solid creative voice? I think I am still in there, testing the waters. It took me years to slowly realize that my passion on textiles and texture are more than just an occupational hazard of being a printmaker. It also took a lot of guts for me to stand true to that niche of mine and give myself the permission to explore and play with  my two loves. And while experimenting I was also aware that another element kept on appearing in my work, which is collage. I have been doing it since I was a teenager. I remember telling myself that I could try to find a unique new style that are individual and fresh for my work, OR I could stick to what I truly love and feel comfortable enough to really test my limits and boundaries. Of course there are so many things that piqued my interest and I would go crazy with trying to figure out how to incorporate them in my work but over time I trust the process and the power of creative editing. And that, gives me my creative voice.


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 hardly use Pinterest and only go to it to finalize my research: I might have an idea to try and I just wanted to see if it has been done before. I have never came across people copying my work although that scares me; the inner critic inside me makes me think of scenarios like the copycat artists make a way better version of my work, which to be honest would be a tough thing to handle emotionally. But at the same time I think that it is pretty hard to copy from my style due to the simple techniques: it is just another interpretation of embroidery, just another spin of collage mixed media. But should that happen, I guess I have to consider it as a blessing in which I have to find a different style or narrative and break out of my comfort zone.


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

1 ) Keep doing it. I have a full time job that is very demanding mentally and physically, and 2 kids below 5. But consistent practice sharpens your skill and strengthen your voice as an artist, which will help you when your career take off.

2 ) Put yourself out there. I want to share this story about this 2 wonderful and successful printmakers I knew when I was just starting out. I've always thought that their success was a mixture of luck and 'a dream come true', that they were discovered and got famous overnight, but apparently all their media appearances (in Uppercase mag, for instance) was because they were the ones who approached the magazine/blog/companies. Every single project or social media or print appearances in their first few years were due to them reaching out, and submitting their portfolios. Once they got that recognition and attention, the ball kept rolling and never stopped. It completely changed my perspective on self promotion. It is no more something embarrassing, but more to being crucial and a necessity to a successful, satisfying art career.


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

I love to discover artists that do different things than I do, so first up would be Sherry McCourt. I also love Lisa Golightly, and more recently, Nor Tijan Firdaus. Each of them produce different work, but I love it.


All images provided by the artist.