Charles & Elin on Embroidery as Modern Art

Charles and Elin are the dynamic duo behind Le Kadre. They are a French-Swedish couple who work together to create beautiful works of art using a needle and thread. They run hands-on workshops, engage with local communities, and teach about the importance of creativity and making things by hand. Much of their work explores architecture, with embroidered cityscapes illustrating their travels to European cities and streets. Between them they have 110k+ followers on Instagram, and by sharing their work and tutorials, they are using social media to empower others to take up the craft. I spoke to Charles and Elin to discover the story behind their introduction to embroidery and what makes the craft a unique art form.

I would love to hear your perspectives on why you started to make embroidery. In an Instagram video, Charles mentions that he wouldn’t have learnt how to make embroidery without Elin. What is the story behind this?

Charles: I confirm, without Elin I think I would never have touched embroidery in my life. I watched Elin making embroidery when we first met, but I didn’t have so much interest at the start. Seeing that she spent a lot of time doing embroidery I became interested a little more day by day. A friend of ours happened to spend the weekend with us and Elin had to teach her embroidery that weekend. So I joined because it was the perfect opportunity to learn. Since then I have never stopped.

Elin: I have done different kinds of embroidery for many years, but got caught up with freehand embroidery just a couple of years ago. I mostly did cross-stitch and never fell in love with it the way I did with freehand embroidery. I think it just fit so nicely with my passion for drawing as freehand embroidery almost becomes like realising a drawing in a concrete medium.

Charles and Elin, image courtesy of the artists.

Are you drawn to embroidery more than other crafts and art forms?

Charles: I think that Ellin and I have similar characters. At the moment our way of expressing ourselves is mainly embroidery, but maybe next year it will be quite different. We have good artistic luggage: drawing, embroidery, photography, video, writing, painting. We do not privilege an art form in particular, we just go with our desires and at the moment it’s embroidery. Embroidery is unique in itself because you can feel it, touch it, be spontaneous, but at the same time it requires patience that not everyone has.

Elin: Just like Charles says, we have many things that we love to create and embroidery happens to have caught our attention at the moment. Personally, I really love the combination of architectural designs and fiberart becuase of the “colliding” mediums. With this I mean that I find the contrast of using a “soft” medium to create a “hard” building very interesting. Furthermore, embroidery is great in its wide applicability. You have endless possibilities in how you can combine embroidery with other artforms and change the way you embroider – for example, by including pearls or other objects.

Do you make other kinds of art or craft as well as embroidery? Do other kinds of art influence your embroidery?

Charles: We draw a lot. I was a photographer in the past and I really like filmmaking. I am going to explore this form of expression more and more. I tend to not get inspired by art that others create, it disturbs my creativity and I become influenced, so not really.

Elin: Yes, I also love to draw and currently I am doing quite a bit of knitting as well. I love to create things that I am able to use, which is where knitting is very satisfying because I can make something usable and then decorate it with embroidery to make it like a “usable” piece of art. I find that I get inspired and motivated to create other kind of art as I am doing knitting and visa versa. In a way it is as if the creative process makes me want to create more. Though I am like Charles on points of looking at other art for inspiration – I don’t really like to turn to Social media or similar to try to find inspiration. It is much better to just go out of the door or have a great conversation with Charles or other people we meet!

You have a very collaborative, creative relationship. What is it like working together?

Charles: We are very complementary in our work and we naturally give ourselves different tasks, it is what allows us to perform well. We are also very ambitious so we keep each other motivated constantly.

Elin: I couldn’t agree more with Charles. Very early on we recognised that we are good at different things and in that way we have naturally complemented each other very well when it comes to most things “behind the scenes,” such as the website, outreach, marketing, imagery and so on. It also helps a lot to have someone that you can bounce ideas with. If one of us has an idea for a piece of art, a post or a video, by talking about it we often find even better ways to realise the idea. Two heads are always better than one! We would wish to see more couples working together! It doesn’t just improve your work but also strengthens the relationship and connection a lot.

Elin, image courtesy of the artist.

Where do you like to create your work?

Charles: Our workspace is anywhere we are. We don’t have a base yet, we are pretty flexible. We are living face to the Atlantic Ocean right now since January, but in two months we are going to travel a lot in a short time, and our workspaces will be cafés, airports, and cars (when one of us is in the passenger seat of course haha), parks, hotels. The goal is to have a big space to have our workshop but to also welcome people for week programs. To be continued!

Elin: Yes, to be open minded as to where the office of the day will be also helps with staying inspired and motivated. Many times we bring our embroidery with us when we go out and maybe do some stitches on a bench or in a restaurant and then continue when we are back in the apartment or wherever we are staying at the moment.

Your goal is to explore embroidery as modern art. Why is this important to you?

Charles: We want to give embroidery the value it deserves in the world of art. That’s why we are at the beginning, there is a way to go.

Elin: Yes, it would also be nice to further explore the different combinations that you can make with embroidery.

Embroidery is sometimes considered a more feminine craft. Do you think it is good for it to be presented by more men?

Charles: In fact, it all depends on where you come from. In Central Europe and USA the majority will think that it is mainly women who embroider. But if you go to North Africa, India, China embroidery is a popular male profession that is still alive. One of my goals and to show that a normal guy can do embroidery and that will not make him ridiculous. I have had remarks from some men who think it would make them ridiculous or too feminine, so our duty to me and all my fellow men embroiderers is to show that embroidery is for all kind and that it’s cool.

Elin: It is super important I think to show that it is for both genders! I am sure that more men would love it.

Charles, image courtesy of the artist.

There are currently quite a few artists bringing embroidery to the art word to give it the recognition it deserves. Why do you think it is becoming more popular now?

Charles: I think there are several factors. We are in a society where we do less and less with our hands. For people it may suit them for a moment but after a few years they realize that they are made to create and do things from their hands. Craftsmanship has always existed, I even think it is vital. One of the other factors that makes it so popular is that people are stressed, and embroidery calms them, heals and focuses them. The world is going too fast sometimes.

Elin: I also think that embroidery is a part of the trend connected with wellbeing such as yoga, meditation and to eat more vegetables, be in nature etc. Because embroidery is a handcraft that connects to history and to the handmade and we can see more and more trends that refers to “this is handmade”, which makes it more exciting.

You are currently expanding to the larger art scene with exhibitions. How are you engaging with the art scene and what kind of exhibitions will you be working on?

Charles: We will do independent exhibitions and have the opportunity to do what we want without rules. We will also have opportunities with galleries that will have the same vision as ours.

Elin: We are still in the working progress so we can’t tell you too much haha – stay tuned and you will soon know more!

You are interested in running workshops and engaging local communities in embroidery and craft. Why do you think it is important to get people involved with making things by hand?

Charles: The workshops are something very present in our work. We like to be in front of people, to share, to communicate, to exchange and to learn. Some people need a little help to get started for the first time. That’s exactly what we do. The goal is that each person coming out of our workshops, continues to express themselves by creating their own art.

Elin: We also think that creating is a crucial part of wellbeing. Especially for people that work in office jobs where they spend most of their hours in front of a computer. The feeling of seeing something grow and to have an end-result/end-product is extremely satisfying and increases your confidence in yourself. We want more people to regain this feeling of being able to create things by themselves (this also gives a sense of freedom!).

In the long run you plan to create more extensive workshops focusing on creativity and wellbeing. How do you think creativity influences wellbeing?

Charles: It’s simple, you can not be passive in your life to feel good. We need to act in one direction or another. I sincerely believe that if everyone started to take the time to create and express themselves with art, they would save mental and physical health. 

Elin: By creating things yourself you become more aware of your surroundings and it forces you to slow down, which I think everyone in our stressed society needs.

What are you working on now? And what’s next?

Charles: We are working on our company le Kadre and our embroideries. The future will be surprising and full of different things, but at the moment I think we want to remain discreet to surprise people!

Elin: Haha yes I agree, we always keep developing new designs – for example for our Monthly Pattern Program – where we make one new pattern each month. Apart from that we also create some external patterns inspired from the places we travel t0, as well as embroideries. We are currently developing more e-courses which is very existing! E-courses are another way by which we can share our passion with the extended community that are not able to attend to our physical workshops.

You can find Charles and Elin at www.lekadre.com. You can visit Charles’s Instagram at @_charleshenry_, and you can visit Elin’s Instagram at @petronella.art

All images copyright of Charles Henry and Elin Petronella. Images used with permission from the artists. 

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Where Have I Been? (Apology & Art Update!)

Taken by Oliver J Cooper (Instagram @coastaloliver), September 2017, Eastbourne, UK.

I am completely aware of my lack of new art work recently, and I apologise!

As I discussed in my December vlog, I recently took the leap into freelance work (you can read more about it here). This was one of the best decisions I have made and I am loving it. My big fear was not being able to find enough work to make a living, but recently I have been receiving so much it has been difficult to juggle.

Alongside my art work I create design pieces. I am working with some really fascinating small businesses, ranging from designers to therapists to photographers. While it’s mostly graphic work, I sometimes get to use watercolours in my designs, which creates a lovely combo between my two passions. I also write and work with different crafts, and and I’ve been learning how to balance and make time for a bit of everything.

I love the variety of my work and am grateful for the opportunity to work on so many great projects, but unfortunately I have found that while I have been finding and building a repertoire with my design clients, my artwork has been pushed to the side.

Learning how to manage my work is becoming easier with time. I am planning to spend a large part of the Spring sitting down outside with my paints, getting all the ideas that have been buzzing around my head onto paper.

What’s coming next?

Recently I have been really keen on minimalist line work, and I am looking forward to combining this style with my own.

I have also started to get my children’s book ideas onto paper, which is really exciting and should be the start of a fascinating project.

Another goal is to create a series of textile designs, as I think it’s interesting to cross the line between art and something that is functional – I’m looking forward to sharing more with you, thank you so much for your continued support.

Hannah.

Photo credit: Oliver J Cooper (Instagram: @coastaloliver). 

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Where Do Creatives Find Ideas?

Where do creatives find ideas? I often hear that creative ideas come from moments of divine inspiration. Sometimes yes, an idea can pop into the mind, but more importantly, visual creatives are visual collectors.

We are constantly recording and analysing our surroundings and looking at them with the creative eye. Learning how to notice everything is the key to making creative content, because then creative ideas can come from anywhere, and they are constantly being generated.

Anything can be a source of inspiration. A haze of light, a strip of peeling paint, a flash of expression. Observing and appreciating the intricacies, textures, colours, and symmetries of everyday things keeps the mind engaged and receptive to ideas.

There are moments where creative blocks get in the way. This is when you look back through the things you have collected in the past. Journals, sketchbooks, scrapbooks, Pinterest boards, books and magazines are all fantastic sources. Be selective, but gather from a wide range. This will help you to make quality work but won’t limit your ideas to a particular style or medium.

Would you like to always be developing your creativity? Take a look at my post for some ideas.

Hannah.

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How To: Introduction to Jewellery Making & Creating a Wire Wrapped Ring

You can head over to Youtube to watch my tutorial on how you can get started in jewellery making. In the tutorial I show how to make a simple wire wrapped ring. Once you get the hang of it you can easily create a ring in under ten minutes using really cheap materials – although there is a lot of space for customisation if you would like to jazz it up.

I make a lot of jewellery – taking the time to work on craft and make something with my hands is really important to me. Collecting stones from forests and oceans, learning about their formation and meanings, learning new ways of crafting with metal and turning it all into something that someone is going to wear is fascinating to me.

In my tutorial I explain the steps you need to take to make your own ring, as well as the materials you need and where you can find them. There was too much information to fit into the video, so I have compiled all the information about the making process and materials in this post.

Please watch the video below before reading the rest of this post so you can follow along.

Beads

The first thing you need is a bead. This can be a plastic or glass bead, which is on the cheaper end of the spectrum and will be available in any craft store. Alternatively, you can choose a semi-precious stone bead like quartz, or a more expensive precious stone like emerald or ruby. In this tutorial I chose to use an imperial turquoise bead. This is a stone that I really love. It has some really bold turquoise tones that intermingle with the more natural beige patterns. If you choose to use a gemstone, remember to sift through your beads and pick one with colours and patterns that you like, as no two natural beads are the same and all will be slightly different.

I recommend looking on Etsy Studio (Etsy’s source for craft supplies) and searching for gemstone beads, there’s a lot of really great shops where you will be able to find some beautiful pieces.

In this tutorial I use a 6mm bead, which is pretty small and creates a delicate look. I also like to use 8mm beads, and you could use 10mm beads for chunkier, statement pieces.

I mention in the video that you can collect raw stones yourself. Stones like quartz are abundant in forests and beaches, and with a little searching you can find them yourself. All you do is pop them in a rock tumbler with water and grit, and let it tumble for several weeks. The tumbler wears down and smooths the rocks. The same thing happens to rocks in rivers and the ocean, but the tumbler dramatically speeds up the process by several thousand years.

Wire

The next thing that you will need is wire. I really recommend 925 Sterling silver wire, because it’s really high quality, durable and doesn’t tarnish easily. However, it can be expensive, so if you are just starting out then buy a cheaper wire to practice on. If you’re just making for fun, then silver plated wire, copper wire or even aluminium wire and much cheaper alternatives that will also work really well.

You can also use Etsy Studio to search for wire. The wire I used in the tutorial is 0.05mm, which is quite thin. You can use slightly thinner wire, 0.04mm wire would be usable, but any smaller and the ring will become very fiddly to make and may not hold together well. I also wouldn’t recommend getting wire that is too thick. After about 1mm, it becomes quite difficult to bend.

Tools

The last thing you need before you can start making are some tools. A small pair of wire cutters are a must have, they really will make working with wire so much easier. You will also need a ring mandrel, which you will use to bend the ring into shape and make it the right size. The last thing you need is a ring sizer, which you use to determine the ring size of yourself or the person you are making the ring for.

Amazon is a great place to look for craft tools, it’s where I buy mine, and they’re also good value. I picked up my mandrel and ring sizer for under £10.

Ready to begin!

That’s it! One you have your supplies you can use them to follow along with the rest of the tutorial. Happy crafting!

If you do decided to give this tutorial a go, let me see the results! Post a photo of your handmade jewellery on Instagram and tag me at @theartofhannahroseshaw, and I’ll be sure to take a look.

If you would like to see more of my jewellery please visit my Etsy shop.

Hannah.

Please note that the recommendations in this article are personal recommendations and are in no way sponsored or endorsed.

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Illulina on Colour Tones, Texture and Fluidity

Melina – or Illulina, as she is known online, describes herself as a ‘tea drinker, woodland dweller and illustrator.’ I’ve been a fan of her work on Instagram for a while, falling in love with the use of texture and and fluid lines. I caught up with her to discuss her workspace, how she is influenced by the natural world and why illustration has always been her passion.

Tell us about yourself?

First of all, hi! I’m Melina. I was born and raised in the north of Germany’s beautiful Bavaria. I am very passionate about hot drinks, especially tea, which is the reason I am constantly sitting in Cafes or exploring old, Diagon-Alley-like tea shops. I love books, especially the ones about faraway places with wizards, magical creatures, flying broomsticks or pipe-smoking Hobbits.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Illulina.

What is the story behind the name Illulina?

Lina is one of my nicknames and ‘illu’ is short for illustration. Little me was so creative! I got used the to nickname and learnt to love it.

How did you being illustrating?

My interest in art started to develop in kindergarden, when I was lucky enough to spend my days in a small library full of illustrated children’s books. From a very early age I realised that I might want to do this for a living, so I began to take the wish seriously. Studying art has been my dream ever since.

How did you develop your illustration style?

At first I didn’t really have my own style. After a long time of pressuring myself to find my very own way of drawing I realised that I just have to let go and draw in a way that is the most comfortable for me. This was the moment I started to develop the style I have today.

Do you use certain themes or colours in your work?

I’m in love with muted, earthy tones. Sometimes I dip my toe into the world pastels and strong, saturated colours, but I prefer my palette inspired by nature.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Illulina.

What inspires you to create?

The people and things around me, my dreams and wishes.

What are you artistic tools of the trade?

My favourite tools are coloured or graphite pencils, because they create a lot of texture and movement in my illustrations.

What is your creative process like?

I actually just go for it. If I see something I find interesting or an idea jumps into my mind, I start doodling rough shapes and colours. If I like what I brought to paper, I start working on more detailed pieces.

Where do you like to create your work?

Most of the time I’m working in my room. It’s cozy, safe and silent. My desk is in front of a window, facing a beautiful old oak and a forest. Often enough I space out and just sit there, forgetting about my tea, which is then becoming cold.

What is your favourite piece you have created?

I haven’t really thought about a possible favourite. I cherish all of my illustrations, since each one of them shows my progress.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Illulina.

Have you ever lost passion for your work?

Actually, yes, quite recently even. Art school rejected me and I started doubting my skill. I was sulking for about a week, but I never stopped drawing. If something doesn’t work, don’t give up. In Germany we have a saying which goes “if there’s a will, there’s a way,” – it’s true.

What are the most challenging parts of illustrating?

Frustration caused by not being able to visualise the image in your head right away.

And what are the best parts?

Telling stories in my very own way and the loving and heart-warming art community.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Illulina.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started in illustration?

Go for it, and don’t give up if it doesn’t work immediately. The beautiful thing about art and illustration is the progress you make and looking back after months of hard work.

All images copyright of Illulina.

You can find Illulina’s work on Instagram at www.instagram.com/illulina and on Tumblr at www.illulina.tumblr.com.

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New Year 2018: Trial, Error and Experimentation

Experiment with Gouache

Some fun trying out new paints! This is my first experiment with gouache, it's a little different to watercolour but so far I really like it, particularly the thickness of the paint and the way it can be layered. I'm looking forward to using these for bolder pieces.

Posted by The Art of Hannah Rose Shaw on Saturday, December 30, 2017

Hello, and happy New Year! As we go into January, there’s a lot of ‘new year, new me’ posts on social media. Of course, self improvement isn’t bad, but I like to remember that imperfection, mistakes and uncertainty are not always wrong.

I posted this video of a few clips from the painting process of a new piece I’ve been working on. It is far from being my favourite piece I have ever painted, but I want to show the experiments, the trail and error pieces, as well as the ‘good’ stuff.

I received a set of gouache paints for Christmas, and using them is really new to me. They’re a lot thicker and more opaque than watercolour, so using them a very different way of working, but they can be layered beautifully to make much richer, bolder pieces.

The concept for this piece came out of a bad week, where among other things I was seeing negativity and unkindess. This painting is about the importance of positive relationships, of allowing others to grow, and to grow through you.

It isn’t finished and I may not finish it for a while – I want to get some large sheets of watercolour so I can re-create it in detail, as at the moment it’s quite tiny. But it was an experiment and a learning process, a way of working that I will perfect over time as I become better with gouache and remember not to try and fit detailed paintings onto A4 sheets of paper.

The point is, imperfection is not a downfall but a sign of growth and a learning process. If we don’t make mistakes then we aren’t trying new things, and that is a failure indeed.

Hannah.

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An Unconventional Path to Art and Design

In my latest Youtube video I shared the story of how and why I do what I do. I wanted to show that there is no ‘right’ way of achieving something. If you have something you want to do and are working towards doing it then you are already on the right track. The important part is finding your own path and deciding what works for you.

Self-taught

Making things is my passion. It’s how I express myself – since being a child I have always drawn my experiences, whether it was days out or illustrations to sit beside my stories.

Beyond school I never had any art lessons. I believed for a long time that I couldn’t paint, that I could only draw, because my style didn’t seem to fit the way that art was taught in school. I was eighteen when I sat down with a drawing and some watercolours and decided to paint without thinking about composition or technique or colour, and to work in a way that felt really natural to me. That was when it all came together, and I realised I had my own style and my own way of working.

Since then I painted constantly. While I didn’t study art after school, I always painted during my spare time at university, setting up mini painting studios in my rooms. I went back to art in my postgraduate degree, where I studied the history of art and art theory. I still completely believed for a long time that there was no way to earn a living from art. I don’t deny that it is difficult, but it took a while for me to stop believing it was impossible.

Freelance

Since deciding to go my own way I have worked on some really amazing projects, from curating and exhibition design to metal work and ceramics to graphic design and illustration, as well as starting my blog and my Youtube channel and planning some longer term projects, mainly my books and animations.

It took a lot of indecision and travelling down the wrong path to find out where I want to go. Don’t worry if you are still in that place – I find that the world has a funny way of righting itself. Keep exploring, and more often than not the right way is around the corner.

Do you have a passion that you’re pursuing? Let me know how you are doing it in the comments – I’m looking forward to reading your stories.

Hannah.

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Painting Process: Watercolour Eye Study

I finally bought myself a camera, which means that a series of new videos is on the way! I am incredibly excited about this and I can’t wait to share some new work with you in the New Year.

I have uploaded the quick eye study to my Youtube channel. I wanted to see what I could do with just 5-10 minutes, and I thought an eye study would be fun.

I love trying to capture expressions using just eyes, because for me they are the focus of any portrait and are where the most emotion is found. If you can get the eyes right, the rest of the portrait falls into place.

Please like, subscribe and keep an eye out for new videos.

Hannah.

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Alyce Brown: Feminism, Activism and Wearable Art

Alyce Brown is a forensic science graduate who became a self employed artist after discovering her passion for wearable art and statement designs. She is an activist, and much of her work deals with feminism, beauty standards and mental health. We discussed why wearable art is a great way to promote a cause, how she creates her pieces, and why she chose to leave full-time employment to pursue her passion.

Tell us a little about your work?

I am a full-time artist, but that wasn’t always the case. I have both a BSc and an MSc in forensic science and forensic anthropology respectively. However, there are no jobs in forensic anthropology. I taught for approximately three months and it really wasn’t for me, so I decided to take the leap and be self-employed. I started with prints of my illustrations but didn’t get very far. When I made my Smile painting and print, it instantly became a bestseller and I realised that instead of making ‘pretty for the sake of pretty’ illustrations (not that I believe they do not have their place), I could make art that has a purpose and can make a difference. This evolved into wearable art when I bought my badge machine (Betty) and started making acetate stencil patches.

What materials do you like to use?

My most frequently used materials are my Huion tablet to design all of my badge designs; Betty my badge maker to actually make the designs into badges; Speedball, Vallejo and Permaset screenprinting inks, acetate, a sharpie, a scalpel, sponges, the lid of a jar (as a palette for the ink – see, you don’t need fancy equipment!) and various canvas and floral craft cotton fabrics to make patches. I also work with markers for my illustrations and work with oil paint for commissions and for my own enjoyment. I love to try new things, but making badges and patches seems to have stuck pretty well in my restless brain. If I won the lottery tonight, I’d still go to work on Monday making badges and patches.

What inspired you to start to create feminist and activist art?

My first feminist print was “Smile” which sports the slogan “It’s my face and I’ll smile if I want to” became an immediate bestseller as soon as I listed it. I’m a feminist, I’m an activist, I suffer with my mental health and I’m a chronic illness warrior. There are a lot of things in the world that need awareness raising for them. In a day and age where women are still hesitant to refer to themselves as feminists (I know because I used to be one of them), because of the negative connotations the word has picked up, I feel that feminism and the promotion of feminism and social activism is more important than ever. I don’t mean to imply that my work is doing grand things; but I like to think that it at least makes a small difference, whether that be providing a ‘he him’ pin for someone who is sick of people referring to them with the wrong pronouns, or just someone who wants a quirky neon witch patch.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Alyce Brown.

What do you like about making wearable art, compared to making art on paper?

I’d wanted a badge machine for ages because I had loads of ideas that I felt would work best on pins and the like, quick slogans and small images. I like making wearable art because whilst people may not have room on a wall for a large painting exploring issues of feminism and social activism, they usually have a garment to which they can affix a cute pin or patch.

What themes and motifs are most often present in your work?

My most consistent themes are feminism, activism and chronic/invisible and mental illness awareness. I don’t have any particularly consistent colours or motifs but I do tend to go with pastel colours rather than anything particularly bold or bright (though some of my work is very bright or dark or both!)

What is your creative process like?

I have sketchbooks lying around that are filled with ideas, or I have ideas that I’ve scribbled on pieces of paper or the notes section of my phone. If I want to create, I go to those first if I don’t have anything firmly in mind. Sometimes my other half and friends makes suggestions to me as well, sometimes I ask my audience what they’d like to see on a pin, a patch, a mirror.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Alyce Brown.

How do you create a piece of work from start to finish?

It’s kind of hard to explain how, exactly. For pins; I colour the background, I add imagery or text, I remove the bleed lines, I print the inserts, I run them through Betty and press them into pins. For patches I rough the design onto the acetate using a sharpie then I cut it out by hand with a scalpel, then I tape them to the fabric (also hand cut, but with scissors) and I use a sponge to blot the ink on; I peel the tape away and then I peel the acetate away and voila! Sometimes patches need touching up a bit with black ink to crisp up the lines, or if it’s on floral fabric and it’s been smudged it is destined to become a misfit (essentially, an imperfect patch sold as a second). Whilst I’m working I usually listen to music or watch YouTube videos (I’m a big fan of Minecraft let’s play videos) or The Simpsons.

Where do you create your work?

I have a studio in my home. I work mostly at my desk and generally I spend most of my time in my studio. I have it set up so that everything I need is within easy reach (badge maker on the desk, badge parts in the drawers by the desk, saxophone for stress relief, and so on).

What are the most challenging parts of working as an artist?

I think one of the most challenging aspects as working as a self-employed person in general, let alone an artist, is dealing with the uncertainty. Mostly it’s financial uncertainty, but sometimes it’s the uncertainty that you’re going to be able to create anything worthwhile that day. But that’s okay. As long as you’re creating that’s fine. Your tastes will overtake your skills frequently, you just have to try and keep up. With being an artist comes the necessity for a willingness to live with those uncertainties.

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Alyce Brown.

And what are the best parts?

Being able to get up every day and do what I love. I love creating, I love making feminist and activist art because it has a purpose, it furthers a cause. As I said previously, even if I won the lottery tonight, I would still get up on Monday morning, go to work and make pins and patches. It is a passion and it is unceasing, so I have to be unceasing too.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

All you have to do is never give up. It is not easy, but it is simple. My dad (very successfully self-employed) has wise words on this subject. This is a message he sent me when I was having a bad day, early in my self-employed journey:

“Keep going! I know you think you aren’t getting anything back, but you’re wrong. You are. You just have not seen it. But it’s there, waiting for you and it’s yours for the taking. But, only those who REFUSE to give up will get there. I am one of those few people. You are too.”

Image courtesy of the artist. Image © Alyce Brown.

What are you currently working on?

I’m always working on new badge designs but I’m currently, at the time of responding to these questions, working on a collaboration with a wonderful artist called Emily from KittyCraftsCo on some moon phase pins. I’ve wanted to make moon phase pins for ages and Emily recently made a watercolour painting of moon phases – so it seemed perfect!

What will you be working on next?

I got a laser cutting machine for my birthday but unfortunately the CO2 laser tube was broken so the laser was not firing and the machine didn’t work. I’ve just ordered a replacement machine so I’m really excited to make some acrylic jewellery, wooden and acrylic charms and badges and other awesome things!

All images copyright of Alyce Brown.

You can find Alyce’s work at www.doodlepeople.etsy.com, www.doodlepeople.co.uk, and on Instagram and Facebook at @doodlepeoplexo. 

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Just do it Already

I noticed a while ago that a particular colour in my watercolour palette was running low. It was very vibrant pink hue, and it happened to be the colour that I used for just about everything. It featured somewhere in almost every piece I painted, which is why it ended up running out before all the others. Instead of going out and buying a new one, I decided that I could buy it later, that the colour would last for the foreseeable future.

Of course, not too long later, it ran out. This was pretty troublesome, considering that I really needed this colour. By the time I got around to visiting the shops and looking for a new one, the colour had ran dry and as a result of not keeping any of the packaging, there was no way for me to find the same colour again.

After a couple of weeks of searching I brought a new palette, and it had a lot of similar pink shades. Not the same shade, but several that were close enough to be passable.

Although my example is a weird little analogy, it did leave me thinking how much easier I would have made things for myself if I had just gone to the shop when I knew I needed to, instead of putting off the trip in the hope of saving money, or not wasting time, or doing something unnecessary.

Stress. Fear. Paralysis. We spend a lot of time worrying and putting things off. I think this applies to the everyday things – putting off that dental appointment, not writing that essay – but also to the big things. Putting off searching for that new job because of a lack of security, putting off that travel adventure because of concerns over money. These are all valid concerns, and of course you should probably weigh up those decisions, but sometimes simply acting is a lot less scary and stressful than we think it will be. Sometimes, we realise that it’s what we should have done all along, and only wish we had done it sooner.

While you might not be able to relate to my situation, maybe you have something that you’ve been putting off. Maybe it’s taking some overdue time for yourself. Maybe it’s finally showing the world that project you’ve had stashed away in a drawer. If you have been putting off something that you should have done a long time ago, take the time out to do it. You never know how it might change things down the line. Come on, just do it already.

Photo Credit: Hannah Rose Shaw by Oliver J. Cooper.

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