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Craft With Conscience: Rachel Edler / Noble Kinfolk

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: Rachel Edler / Noble Kinfolk

Sarah Benning


Rachel Edler // Embroidery Artist // Berlin, Germany


Rachel Edler, owner of Noble Kinfolk is a textile artist from Bristol currently residing in the bright lights of Berlin. She creates her textile works by using the technique, free motion embroidery. It was a technique she discovered whilst studying textiles in college when she was 17, and something she has done ever since. However, it was only when she moved to Berlin that it began to turn into something more than a hobby. Her passion for hoarding bright and colourful fabrics injects a flash of vibrance in her portraits, which are mostly of women in contemplative states, an ode to the busyness of life as a modern day woman, being pulled in different directions. Her favourite pieces to create are her commissioned portraits of people, she loves trying to capture people's individual characteristics in stitch.

Check out more of her amazing work on her website, instagram, or Etsy Shop.

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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 ones’ own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artist’s lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

 The internet has played a big part in my creative life, it was my first leap into showing people my work. I have been sewing for a long time but it was something I regarded more as a hobby, using it as my own personal therapy and for occasional gift giving. I didn’t have the confidence in myself or my work to share to galleries, shops and other outlets. Instagram gave me the opportunity I needed to share my work, it gave me confidence from the positive feedback from people and great connections with other creatives that I don’t think I would have got otherwise. It also connected me with the lovely owners of the wonderful shop Amodo, where I now sell a lot of my work.

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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?

I mostly find inspiration for my work from photographs, usually from magazines, I love stitching portraits the most, trying to capture an emotion using a sewing machine can be hard, it is not as delicate as hand embroidery but it is so rewarding when you get it right.
 

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3. 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?

As far as I know I have only had one incident where my work was appropriated and put online but luckily for me it was sorted out amicably. I think it is something that can be a worry, especially as like most creatives I put a little bit of my soul in each of my works, but I also think that the online creative community is full of so many positives, it’s worth taking that risk.

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

 My advice would just be to do it, share your work, connect with other creatives. I am part of a collective in Berlin called the Berlin Kreativ Kollectiv, a group formed of creatives in Berlin and it has been so helpful for me starting my own business to be able to ask questions and be around people that are in a similar situation and I’ve made friends through it too. Find out if there is a group near where you live and get involved. Doing the creative thing can be scary but it’s so much easier when you can connect with like-minded people who can offer you support and encouragement.

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

 At the moment I am looking at Instagram a lot so I’ll share some of my favourite accounts, although I love embroidery my favourite accounts are usually artists working in a different medium.

 I love the work of @dirtyliketheweeds, her drawing style is so unique and beautiful.

 The beautiful weavings of @moandmum

 I absolutely adore the paintings of @bobbyandtide

 @thediggingestgirl and@rarepress create the most wonderful prints.

 Of course @bkkkollectiv, a feed full of amazing artist’s work

 And my talented younger brother who creates awesome illustrations @jamiedlerillustration

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