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Craft With Conscience: Stewart Easton

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: Stewart Easton

Sarah Benning

Stewart Francis Easton // Illustrator and embroidery artist // London uk

Breaking the traditional boundaries of craft, Stewart Francis Easton’s work fuses together hand embroidery, sonic art and design based illustration. For Easton’s latest works he has been removing the ‘storyline’ of a visual narrative by creating geometric / graphic forms in stitch. This reassembling of his work ethic in a conscious measured layout enables the viewer to be free of their preconceptions of story. Using a process of abstract minimal stitch he is enabling himself to create a visual reference to an ever changing pathway and reaching for a utopian form. Easton’s stitch work blurs the lines between craft, illustration and fine art making his work dynamic and progressive and a must see. Stewart Francis Easton is a visual storyteller based in London who works in thread, ink, paint and digital media.

Check out more of his amazing work on his 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 for me as a multi disciplinary artist has been a goldmine for source material. Since working with sound and stitch and collaborating with other artists the Web has allowed me to make contact with those artists whom are a real inspiration to me and my practice. It’s shown a human side of works and their creators. Growing up in the 90’s and seeing works in books and galleries the artist always seemed outside of my scope of vision. With the super fast growth of the net and especially social media things are a little closer and accessible. Though there it does have it’s downside too. We seem to have lost our ability to look outside, and slow down. I was taking to my son (who has just gotten his first record player) the other day about collecting records and going to record fairs and having to search through magazines and speak to people about music. And then the excitement of finding and discovering a record. We don’t do this anymore, life is too instant now. It’s why we sew!


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

I tend to find inspiration in most places. Galleries are the main point for inspiration. Seeing the physical painting, drawing, artwork etc. I don’t think anything can really beat this for the drive to better yourself and to sit and create. Aside from galleries music and story plays a major part in my design process. Trying to interpret a tone in a piece of music or the rhythm in a story plays an important role in my process more so than viewing an image on social media on a small hand held device. The net has been great in giving a platform for the DIY artist. I wouldn’t say there is a spirit of punk as such but everyone now has a voice- if they want to use it. So in this way I get to see works which not are being driven and promoted by Collectors and Dealers. It’s gonna be interesting to see haw this develops.


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

It’s quite ironic really that I criticise social media and its time consuming habits, but I guess that at the start of my creative practice it was Myspace which propelled me and gave me the confidence to push on.


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’ve been quite lucky in that i’ve not been ‘copied’ as such. I once had a chap contact me and ask if I could create the artwork for his latest release. I had to decline as was too busy. Then a friend sent me a photo of a flyer - the guy had copied one of my drawings for the artwork. It was awful! Looked real bad, so I jest left him to it. He had a real bad record sleeve - Karma! My partner is an illustrator and has had her worked copied before, and also used for T-shirts etc. without her permission. You just have contact and hope they are decent folk. I think one of her designs which was used was licensed to a major corporation so when she contacted and told them this and that she would be contacting the company and pass their details on these smaller companies tend to flap. But I have heard of bigger companies stealing designs etc.


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

My main advice for new artists is to be patient. To breakthrough takes time, takes years. Lots of folk try and push. Spend a year or two and don’t reach the heights that they want then they give up. It’s strange path to follow as it’s ever moving, your goal posts are not static so you need to be flexible too. So be patent, flexible and keep on creating.

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

My favourite instagram accounts of the moment are:

@britishculturearchive -reminds me of my youth in Coventry, England.

@iranianoutsiderart -wealth of creativity

@damienhoardegalvan - I wish I made everything Damien makes

@jonasbrwood - same as the above

@clairescully - I’m lucky in that I get to share my life with these drawings and lass. The skills blows my mind

@jonklassen - He’s a force to be reckoned with! Everything he does is genius.

@carsonellis - As with Jon Klassen and Claire Scully these guys

draw worlds I want to live in

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