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Craft With Conscience: Rose Pearlman

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: Rose Pearlman

Sarah Benning

Rose Pearlman // Fiber Artist //  Brooklyn, NY


Rose Pearlman is an artist and art teacher who focuses on textile design. For the past 6 years she has used the traditional method of rug hooking to make modern abstract compositions in fiber. Always the teacher, Rose loves creating new ways of making things simply, and leads a wide range of workshops in the NYC area. In 2014, she invented the craft tool the “Loome”, a hand-held fiber tool that combines weaving, cording, making pom-poms, tassels and friendship bracelets. Her self published craft book, ‘Tied with String’ is an exploration of similar DIY projects and ideas. Her book, along with her OAK Rug Hooking Kits are sold at Purl Soho in NYC. She currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children and an impressive closet full of rug yarn.

Check out more of her amazing work on Instagram or her website.

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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 can be complicated. On my good days it inspires and engages me. It’s an invaluable tool to build an audience and create a community with those who share a common interest. I am very grateful for social media’s wide reach, and the ability to have an audience that extends further than cities and friends. I am also grateful for those who use social media to encourage and support others, and this, more than anything else, motivates me to create art and inspires me to push personal boundaries.

But it’s easy to go down the social media rabbit hole. The internet can breed lots of insecurity and an exhausting stream of distraction. When you feel depleted yourself, seeing others successes and idealized homes, family, wardrobe, body, etc. can be overwhelming. Not to mention the time wasted while scrolling endless content. Limiting myself on the internet is really the only way I can gain control over it’s consuming power and focus on its positivity.

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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?

 Social media opens up the world of art without having to leave the home. As important as it is to see and experience art in person, the internet has made all types of creative work accessible to everyone. From art to nature, the internet is an endless source of incredible content. When I stumble upon something on my feed that leaves an impression, I take screen shot. Then, when I am at a loss, I often refer back to these images for inspiration. 

But seeing art through a screen is limiting and sometimes deceptive. The internet is a series of curated images, many of which use a great deal of ‘smoke and mirrors’ and look the way they do, with a combination of angles, light and filters. Creativity is sparked not just visually, but with touch, smell, feel, and sound. Being present in a moment helps you remember the experience without the need for visual reminders. Seeing a painting on a wall stays with me much longer than seeing the same painting on a screen. 

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

 I admire many creative people whose work is very different than my own. I find others abilities both inspiring and aspirational. But I know that their skills are not my own. While my art can be improved upon with practice, it cannot be forced into any other style. My parents are both painters, and I am comforted by similarities between their work and my own. It’s as if I inherited a certain sensibility and to fight it would be pointless. Within my quirky abstract designs, there is always structure. My compositions are worked on until they feel right, even if that “right’ is something only I can see. For me, rug hooking is the fiber medium most like painting. The punching technique is simple to master so your energy can be spent on composition and color. It is also easy to change your mind and undo your work. I have created entire pieces only to pull it all out and start again. With rug hooking you can easily pull stitches out to reuse the same cloth backing and fiber without waste.

Also, after years of creating and storing paintings, it’s very satisfying to make pillows, rugs, bags and other practical home goods that can be used. 

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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?

As an artist and teacher, it’s my goal to inspire and help others create, but there is a fine line between inspiration and stealing. I have seen my ideas bounce back at me through the internet in subtle and not so subtle ways by individuals who try and profit off my original ideas. And as a creative you feel powerless in both preventing it from happening and claiming ownership when it does. It definitely stings and leaves you feeling helpless. The only comfort I can offer is this, your work was copied because it was special. No one that imitates you can do it like you can. If what was copied is something so important thatdefines you and your creativity, then the best way to gain control back is to do more of it. It will become very apparent where the originality lies when your passion for your art shines through.

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

 My best advice for artists, is not to compromise their unique vision to fit someone else’s standards. Those who are drawn to your work will like it for what it is. Pleasing others comes at a cost, and often takes the pleasure out of creating and compromises your art. That goes for business as well. If the business aspect of creating has taken over, and compromised your love for what you do, then you need to go back and reassess your goals.

I grew my business at a very slow speed. I would only buy my supplies with the money I had already earned. Investing and risk taking might work for some people, but slow growth can also work. Starting off, I would compare my business with others that were perfectly branded and slick. Instead of waiting until my work looked “perfect’’, I just put out the content I had and improved upon it as I went along. In the beginning this meant iPhone photos, a bare bones website, limited social media content, etc. Once I acquired new skills, or made enough money, I then put them back into the business to improve itsoverall appearance. Today it is still far from perfect, but the important part is just to start, and know that you can improve upon these things as you go along.

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

 Some of my favorite art inspiration Instagram feeds :

      @altoonsultan – check out her amazing hooked art.

      @littleartforms

     @b.d.graft

     @parade.pimlico.pearl

     @d_anselmi

     @maxinesuttontextiles

     @stuffwithprints

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All images provided by the artist