Tagged: Embroidery

Embroidery artist Jessica So Ren Tang

Here, 25-year-old embroidery artist and warehouse production worker  Jessica So Ren Tang, from San Francisco, tells us all about her beautiful hand-stitched pieces and the inspiration behind them…

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“As a child I knew I wanted a career in the arts. Throughout school I learned and experimented with various mediums, I started embroidering and playing with fabric and thread in my senior year of college in preparation for my senior exhibition. I graduated with a BA in Studio Art at Mills College in Oakland, CA.”

“I had semester-long assignment which involved playing with different materials and. for one of the experiments. I made a cup noodle container. I quickly found that styrofoam was a poor sewing material, so I began to replicate a cup noodle container with fabric instead. I enjoyed the softness and texture of embroidery in my sculpture pieces and I continued looking for other objects to replicate. I was more interested in sculpture but disliked the bulk clay and similar mediums had.

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“I continued to embroider because I loved the flexibility it gave me, as well as its rich history of being women’s work. In the future I want to explore more fibre art and sculpture and keep pushing my skills in fabric and thread.

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“I draw inspiration from memories of my childhood and my experiences of being an Asian American woman. For my object series, I look for items that I have bought or used that have Asian/American significance and use. Specifically, I look for Asian snacks and containers that I have used or seen in my childhood. Replicating objects in fibre is my way of exploring my Asian American identity – it is a way for me to replicate the duality of being too Chinese to be American and too western to be really Chinese.

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“Initially, it was not my intention for my pieces to have connections with tattoo art. Replacing the skin of suggestively posed Asian women was intended to obscure the girl’s identity, in an attempt to address this Asian American dual identity experience. the girls’ facial markers are removed but replaced with an Asian pattern, still retaining an Asian identity but non-specific to her ethnicity. But the style of pattern on the girl has specific origins to an Asian culture. I look for a variety of Asian patterns but so far they are mainly of Japanese and Chinese origins. Although I am looking to expand to different Asian patterns in my future pieces.

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“My girl series was inspired by Ikenaga Yasunari’s paintings of women and textile patterned clothing. The female forms help to emphasise the feminine medium that is embroidery, but it is also a familiar image that I express myself through. I create a little piece of myself through each girl, in the hopes of creating a tangible object that encompasses my Asian American experiences.

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“The colours in the patterns help to highlight a figure but to pull back and flatten – sort of like a silent wallflower girl. The facelessness of the women is to suggest a general Asian identity without pinpointing a specific nationality. Extending the pattern to the entire body was more aesthetically cohesive and balanced. Having the pattern on just the face drew too much attention to the head when I wanted the entire figure to be emphasised.

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“My object series, depending on the size and complexity, range from a week to a little over a month to be finished. Each mini girl takes about 50 hours of stitching and 100 hours for the larger girl pieces, as everything is stitched by hand.

“My works are currently not for sale for a variety of reasons. I still have a small body of work due to how long it takes me to complete one piece and exhibiting would be difficult if I started selling, I’m still attached to my pieces and I’m hard pressed to let them go, and I don’t have much free time outside of my day job and selling would take me away from working on my art. Of course, many of these reasons will eventually be solved and I do plan on selling my work.”

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View more of Jessica’s work on Instagram: @jessicasorentang

Lisa Smirnova Embroidery

Russian Lisa Smirnova creates beautiful hand embroidered pieces inspired by nature, tattoos and inspirational artists, including Frida Kahlo. Her embroideries look like they have been sketched rather than stitched and the muted and pastel tones add a dream like quality to her work.

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Follow Lisa on Instagram for more art

Interview with Hannah Hill

21-year-old Hannah Hill is the talented lady behind independent business, Hanecdote. Since 2012 she has been creating cute and quirky embroidered patches, along with establishing the Ghoul Guides International club. Not only does her stitching wizardry make you smile, with slogans such as “Avocado Angel” and “Pizza Princess”, but they also bring awareness to subjects such as mental health, racism and feminism.

Amber Bryce caught up with Hannah to talk about her art, inspirations and amazing collection of tattoos, of course…

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When did you first start embroidering? I started embroidering when I was about 17, at college studying a BTEC Art and Design course, where I was given the opportunity to experiment with a wide variety of mediums and techniques. Saying that, my mum has always knitted and stitched so the influence has been around me for most of my life.

Where do you find your inspiration? My sources of inspiration can vary a great amount. I find beauty in kind people and my intense love for my best friend, nature, architecture, pop culture, emotions and politics, girls, identity and family. I find huge inspiration and support in my online feminist art babe community, and people constantly making me want strive to be better and make even more meaningful work.

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Are you interested in any other art forms? I love all kinds of art forms and styles, although hand embroidery is my main skill. Both of my grandparents were architects, which influenced my outlook on the world around me from a very young age, and as I mentioned, my mum is a very talented crafter, who has done projects including mosaic, stained glass, knitting, painting, floristry, embroidery and sculpture. All my life I have been surrounded by art/design in one way or another, whether it was crafternoons, gallery trips or work experience. This year on my fine art course, I hope to expand my textile techniques as well as explore my identity further. This is something I am really excited about, and look forward to seeing where my work goes.

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Do you have a favourite artist? There are plenty of artists who I love but I don’t think I could choose just one. I recently saw Ai Weiwei’s exhibition at the Royal Academy and it was incredible. What stood out to me in particular, other than the deep historical context and emotion behind lots of his pieces, was the beautiful craftsmanship, which just further represented aspects of China’s history.

I also love Yayoi Kusama’s work and am really inspired by her resilience through mental health issues and how that transpires in her hypnotic, colourful work. Right now I am obsessed with Reuben Dangoor who has been painting Grime artists as if they were landed gentry, which combines my love of grime music and classical painting. I am all about changing up the art world, and injecting the variety of cultures now residing in the UK into what we think of art and history in England, and this series really represents that crossover.

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Which of your creations are you proudest of? Over the past year, my embroidery has grown from teeny patches expressing hobbies and interests, to more biographical pieces, which are much more detailed. I love both kinds equally, but the patches that are closest to my heart are ones that support and encourage little victories, activities that are hard for people with mental health issues but still deserve to be rewarded. Knowing that I have impacted someone’s mental health, and helped them to not feel so alone is so heartwarming to me.

I personally love the embroidered self-portrait I made last year, which was challenging but my hard work really paid off. It had originally started of as a self-care project, which turned into really fun way of working for me.

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What are your future plans for Hanecdote? As far as my shop, its had to be put on the back burner while I’m back at university, but I do hope to reopen it soon, just selling machine embroidered versions of my classic designs while I study. Next summer I will have more time to commit to my business, introducing some clothing, expanding the machine embroidered range and also offering customised embroidered hoops, similar to the ones I have been making. I love being able to share my creations and designs with people, but I wouldn’t say I enjoy business, so I kind of make it up as I go along, improving and learning constantly, and I would like to grow personally as an artist for a while before committing to my shop again.

What advice would you give to others wanting to start their own business? It takes a lot of patience, that’s for sure. I struggle to think of sound advice as it is all about trial and error for me, and I’ve been running Hanecdote since I was 17 so there really has been a lot of learning and figuring out the best process. I was making and sharing kind of crap things for a year or more before I made my Ghoul Guide patches and they got popular online, which propelled me into the patch machine I have turned into over the past two years. I guess be confident in your products, work ethically, don’t copy other peoples designs and have fun expressing yourself.

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Tell us about your tattoo collection? I got my first tattoo a week after my 18th birthday, which is a bum in a heart shape and could still be one of my favourites as my mum also got tattooed with me and it brings back fond memories. I also have a black cat on my wrist; a matching honey jar with my brother, which commemorates a fond memory with our grandpa; an interpretation of my popular Too Cute To Care patch; a palm tree, which I got in Antigua with my boyfriend; a pin up girl with a snake wrapped around her, inspired by John Collier’s painting of Lilith and Salma Hayek’s character in From Dusk Till Dawn; a skull pin cushion; a Friday the thirteenth embroidery sample; a sad girl; a crying eye; lil ghoul; a heart with a G inside; a heart saying ‘mine’; a nude Polaroid, and a butterfly.

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Have you got plans for anymore in the future? I have lots of ideas for tattoos in the future, including some mermaids, no doubt more embroidery inspired ones, some more babes, and I’ve been really thinking about a beautiful under boob tattoo. I think I’m gonna go easy for a while though, if I can help myself! Matching tattoos are my favourite and I would love to get some more. Hopefully one day I can convince my dad to get one with me

Ashley Riot & Cristina Gogo Blackwater

Our Italian contributor Ilaria chatted to travelling tattoo artist Ashley Riot and artist Cristina Gogo Blackwater. The couple share their work, relationship and hopes for the future in this intimate interview… 

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 photo: Carlo Carletti | editing: Claudia Cosentino

How would you introduce your other half to our readers?
Cris: Ashley is an undeniably talented tattoo artist and painter with deep, intelligent eyes and a kind soul. He is gentle but fearless, patient but constantly curious, handsome and brave. He’s also really sweet while having a certain kind of dark side about him, a particular combination of pluses and minuses that makes us similar, and that I believe brought us (and keeps us) together. He’s my space captain, my everything.

Ash: My own personal muse. An equally beautiful and intelligent woman with her head and heart in the right place. Cristina’s curiosity and quest for knowledge and adventure are on par with my own. My soul mate. She’s a jack of all trades, easily picking up new hobbies and making rad new things. Most people would say, “oh, she’s that babe on the cover of all those tattoo magazines.” They aren’t wrong, but there’s many more layers of awesome tucked away in this one.

Traveling is part of your lives, is it a stimulus that enriches you, or a taxing, tiresome experience?
Cris:
It can be both enriching and exhausting, but the highs are much higher than the lows. There is this famous Bill Murray quote that goes something along the lines of  “if you think you met The One, don’t just date and get married. Buy a plane ticket and travel the world, in places that are hard to go to and get out of. If you’re still in love when you come back, then you know you found the one” and I couldn’t agree more. I am seeing the world with the one I love. I am sharing every memory, every moment. I’m an only child so being alone was always a big part of my life. Now we can be alone together, and grow up together.

Ash: My wife crushed it. I can’t say how many excellent humans we’ve met already in our travels and how many more we look forward to meeting.

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 photo: Carlo Carletti | editing: Claudia Cosentino

Is your work your only passion, or do you have any future projects?
Cris: The great thing about making a living as an independent artist, is that every hobby and every passion can be a part of your work. Certainly this is much less secure than having a regular pay check, and is sometimes a risk, but I don’t live to make money as an ultimate and absolute goal, because it’s not money itself that was ever my passion. Each year my favorite part of my job is different. Right now, I am completely enamored with my hand embroideries of tattoo flash designs. Very few things make me happier than creating something with my hands.

Ash: Work definitely keeps us both busy. There’s always ideas brewing in the back of my head but very often, after drawing designs for tattoos and making those tattoos, I’m shot. It’s a very demanding craft both physically and mentally.

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Tattoo by Ashley

Is there a correlation between tattoos and sentiment?
Cris: I would say so.  I don’t think that the subject of a tattoo necessarily has to signify something sentimentally relevant, in fact I have very few tattoos like that. I prefer to get inspired by a vague idea of something I like, and then bring it to a particular tattooer and let them interpret it in their own way. At the same time, the more time goes by the more each tattoo reminds me of a particular moment in time.

Ash: Certainly each tattoo contains sentimental value; I don’t have names, dates, or memorial tattoos on myself, but each tattoo most definitely has a memory attached to it. I can look at each of my tattoos and reminisce on numerous situations, cities and friends. I can see times of sadness, madness, and most importantly happiness that have sculpted me into the human that I am today.

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photo: Carlo Carletti | editing: Claudia Cosentino

To which of your (and his/hers) tattoos are you most attached to?
Cris:  I am most attached to the ones that I got out of love and friendship. As far as Ashley’s tattoos, I am extremely fond of the ones on his torso. Perhaps because I’m not very tall so my gaze often falls on that area, or maybe it’s because it makes me think of our closest moments.

Ash: I think on myself I have too many good ones to have a personal favourite. I could say which I hate my most, but I’ll hold my tongue! Cristina has a bunch of really nice tattoos. I would say that the ones I did are my favourites.

Does your life together follow a specific style, or philosophy?
Cris: I guess because of how we look and what we do, we could easily fit the stylistic profile of others who live similar lives as us, but I tend to focus on the core of things, and in my head the only philosophy that matters is very simple: to experience everything, regret nothing, and to be decent, respectful people. To never intentionally hurt anyone, nor each other, nor ourselves. To love each other, and have fun together, and mostly never take anything too seriously. It’s always a work in progress of course, but to me, that’s really ALL there is to it.

Ash: She definitely speaks for both of us on this one.

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Embroidery by Cris 

What does “forever” mean to you?
Cris: I can’t really grasp the concept of forever as an absolute, it’s just too much to wrap my head around. I can have a very vague scientific understanding of it, but that’s sort of irrelevant, in a way. In my very limited, relative to my life kind of way, I like to be a little bit of a romantic and think that love is forever.

Ash: F-O-R-E-V-E-R? I think it’s the outside edge of our mental capacity to understand such a massive span of time. I feel like it’s easier to think of it in a narcissistic way; as the span of time from birth to inevitably becoming worm food. This tiny window of time which holds every memory and interaction that will ever exist is your personal forever.

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Personally, I believe that everything that is made by hand (be it a tattoo, or an embroidery), captures the energy of its artist. Do you think this is possible?
Cris: I think it’s absolutely possible. Perhaps I’m overly optimistic and positive about it, but to me, even when the work in question appears to be rushed and meaningless, a little bit of the soul of who made it is inevitably embedded in it.

Ash: I try my best to live up to that philosophy. Sometimes there’s only so much of yourself that you can put into someone else’s dream about their tattoo. After all, it is their tattoo. I’m mostly certainly up for this challenge each and every time.

Have you ever tattooed each other? If so, what was it?
Cris: I have a few tattoos that he did on me by now, and I love them all so much!  And I scribbled on his leg once, a few years ago: it’s horrible of course, but it’s a great memory of our first trip together.

Ash: I can happily say that I lost count. I really like to test myself when I tattoo Cristina.

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