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Craft With Conscience: Patricia Larocque of Ffembroidery

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: Patricia Larocque of Ffembroidery

Sarah Benning

Patricia Larocque // Embroidery Artist // Lyon France


Patricia Larocque is a Canadian embroidery artists currently struggling in Lyon, France. She works from her home studio which is really just her kitchen table let's be real. She currently enjoys creating anxiety ridden patches that are close to life representations of herself and her daily life. She enjoys being her own boss and hopes that one day she'll be about to quit her day job.

Check out more of her amazing work at 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?

Well I'm a huge social media junky and pusher and sad meme collector. Without Internet I'd be sitting at home bored with nothing to stream (I only watch tv shows and movies when I stitch) and obvs ffembroidery wouldn't exist without Tumblr or Instagram. It's the one way I connect day to day and really socialize with ppl and other artists, is that sad? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . Ffembroidery first started on tumblr, I began to upload photos of my embroidered bags and started getting messages asking if I was going to start a store. I didn't have a smartphone until 2014, my Instagram and store were first created then. It took me 2 years before I really started to care and curate my Instagram into what it is today. Since then I've really started to grow my business with the help of Instagram mostly.

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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?

Oh I have a boring answer that everyone says but it's true! I find my inspiration from everyday life, Ideas just pop in my head, I'll see colour combos that I like and be inspired. I also need to leave the house once a day to refresh my brain so that helps. I only take my drawing supplies out of the house with me. Everything I make starts out as a doodle and drawing is my therapy, as well as embroidery. All the cringe ugh-faced girls are all just me. The pressure to create more and always have something new to post can be challenging, I enjoy it mostly with a few normal breakdowns in between. I put pressure on myself a lot but you gotta be able to overcome that and keep creating and keep pushing yourself to come up with better ideas, which is a welcome challenge.

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

I don't know if I have fully, I just do what I like to do and make what I think looks cool. I've been experimenting for almost 7 years with my embroidery and only until quite recently have I thought that I'm on a good path and really enjoy what I make and that I have found a style that is my own. I'm still trying new things and want to make more changes soon and I'll always be experimenting I think and as an artists you should challenge yourself as you become too comfortable in one style.

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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?

Full blown copies? no, teenage girls tagging me in photos saying they are "inspired by me" yes. Which irks me, sorry kids! In my head I feel like I'm not commercial enough to be copied by a big company so I'm not too worried but at the same time you gotta know it's gonna happen. If it did happen (from a bigger company) real talk I'd be pissed and probably cry, I've cried for less and then I'd get pissed and blast them and hope I'd have support? Instagram is notorious for copycats. I enjoy uploading photos, sharing what I do, I enjoy the support and nice comments and I would continue to create original pieces. But when I do find someone random who has been a little too inspired, my way of dealing with it is...as much as I would love to call someone out I usually just message them and tell'em straight but try to be kind and not sassy about it...which is v-hard for me. That's usually the end of it....phew!

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

I would just say be yourself and work hard...Try shit out and give it time. I always get messages for advice and honestly if you're not willing to put in the time or allow yourself some patience then move on to something else? Also don't do shit for free, I think working for exposure can be a tricky thing and unless you feel super supported or working for something you love then don't do it. If a blogger (is that still a thing.. "influencer" is maybe a better word) wants shit for free don't do it, if they love what you do then they will support you and buy something. Doing a swap with a fellow artist who you love can be a really cool way to meet another artist and potentially lead to collabs and new opportunities. I'm not good at giving advice because even if it looks like I know what I'm doing, I don't! I freak out, get anxious and wondering what the hell am I doing on the daily.

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

I love @emotionalclub Instagram, it's full of sad relatable memes. Sofia Salazar @__hiedra__ is my homie who creates cool shit, @thefiberstudio got me to 1000 followers and is a rad site for discovering fiber artists if that's what you're into. @embellishedtalk is also super cool for interesting interviews and textiles. Jenny hart @embroidery, mom, hers was the only cool embroidery I saw at the time back in the day when I first started, didn't have a smartphone or Instagram and had to google everything.

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All images provided by the artist.