eMbroidery – Danny Mansmith


Welcome to eMbroidery, a series of interviews with male embroiderers. This month, Danny Mansmith.

Name: Danny Mansmith

Location: Chicago

Main embroidery medium: i use the sewing machine as a tool to make images like a painter would do , drawing with the machine using thread and fabric and sometimes paper

Noteworthy projects or pieces: worked with Herman Miller in 2007 for Neocon, collaboration with artist friend Cathi Bouzide during the Fields Project 2008 to wrap a 18 foot corn bin in fabric, and just last year a second Solo exhibition at Lillstreet Art Center using the whole gallery space in one large installation piece

How did you come to be an embroiderer? i was inspired to start sewing in 1991 from two friends i met in art school, which after a year i left and began to start teaching myself how to sew

What does it mean to you? it’s my identity, using the sewing machine in a way brings me closer to my grandma which i was very close with and who sewed my clothes and gave me my first art lessons growing up, i make my own clothes, coats,scarves,pants,shirts,bags, and art works with my sewing machine, it allows me to create my own path in this world

Where do you like to work? i work out of my home studio

How do people respond to you as a male embroiderer? it depends on the person, if they are openminded and interested in the arts then they are interested if not then they think it’s weird

Who inspires you? people who don’t fit in, people who make things, handmade things, old things, nature, finding beauty in things that most don’t find pretty, colorful things, people from other cultures and countries, animals, family, struggles in life

How or where did you learn you learn how to stitch or sew? i began teaching myself how to use the sewing machine in late 1991, taking apart my store bought clothes at first to follow the patterns to teach my self clothing constructions, and it has just grown from there through the years

Are your current images new ones or have you used them before? the human form has always been present in my work, i do like patterns and some abstractions but the figure plays a huge role in my art

How has your life shaped or influenced your work? i guess it is one in the same, as i have gotten older art making in a way is how i survive here and i funnel my emotions through the sewing machine so to speak

What are or were some of the strongest currents from your influences you had to absorb before you understood your own work? well even now i try not to fully understand my work, i don’t want to know the whole idea, as i work i try to let go and kind of go to another place and just let the work and ideas come out, sometime i do look at what i have made and wonder who made it, i think sometimes artists try to hard to plan and work out every detail, ideas seem to be so formulated that all life of the piece seems to have died in all this planning, at least some art works feel like this to me

Do formal concerns, such as perspective and art history, interest you? sure learning about the ones that have come before us is important but i do try to follow my own ways and playing and experimenting are so important as well

What do your choice of images mean to you? there the things i like to look at and the things i like to make, i again try not to think too hard about such things and ideally love to just let art works begin organically by playing, doodling at first and than an idea is sparked and i take it from there, also i am very influenced my the people in my life my family and my friends and my boyfriend play huge parts in my work, cause i guess i make work about my life about how i’m feeling and about  things that i have no words for only images
Do you look at your work with an eye toward it like what can and can’t be visually quoted?  In other words what you will or won’t cut out? i rarely edit , i’m very decisive, the first image or idea i get usually remains in tact to the end
Do you have any secrets in your work you will tell us? i guess i feel i’m pretty open in sharing materials and my process, i think the most powerful idea in my work is the passion i have for doing it

How do you hope history treats your work? i live in the now and make in the now and tomorrow no one knows, i hope the people who will like it will be able to see it in the future

Where can we find you and your work? online at www.SCRAPdannymansmith@etsy.com i welcome any questions

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eMbroidery was created with the support and wisdom of the magnificent Bascom Hogue.


Mr X

Mr X

Director at Mr X Stitch
The Kingpin of Contemporary Embroidery.
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