Welcome to eMbroidery, a series of interviews with male embroiderers. This month, Davey Gravy.
Name: Davey Gravy
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Main embroidery medium: Cross Stitch
Noteworthy projects or pieces: “Keep Ya Head Up” which is owned by Skrillex (DJ).
How did you come to be an embroiderer? By accident. In my forth year of art school I discovered I needed a medium or technique that involved repetition, planning, and produced a clean, crisp product. I pushed my painting, drawing, and collageing aside and chose to focus on cross stitch and explore where I could go with it.
What does it mean to you? To me it means you have to have plenty of patience and drive. Cross stitching/embroidering isn’t for everyone.
Where do you like to work? I like to work at home in my studio(creating patterns) and living room(stitching). The stitching process can be mindless at time so I make sure a have the TV or a podcast on.
How do people respond to you as a male embroiderer? People absolutely love it. They think its great that a male in their early twenties is using the same tools what are typically reserved for those in their later years.
Who inspires you? Other artists in my city. The internet. All rap music. My brother.
How or where did you learn you learn how to stitch or sew? I learned to sew when I was tired of waiting for my mom to fix the holes in my jeans. She showed me how a sewing machine worked and I took it from there. I taught myself how to stitch. There’s not much too it, so it wasn’t hard. After a few piece’s I got the hang of it.
Are your current images new ones or have you used them before?
Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince was recently used in a show in Calgary called “Group of $even” as a part of Sled Island music festival. The East Coast vs. West Coast Shoes were used for a shoe show late 2012 at The Source (Skateboard/Snowboard shop in Calgary) that was sponsored by Supra footwear. You’re Nobody Till Somebody Kills You was used in a show titled “Man Vs. Mouse” held at The Gallery (thegalleryshop.ca). Don’t Make Dollars is a piece I made in 2012.
How has your life shaped or influenced your work?
My interests defiantly influence my work. Hip hop has been a part of my life for over a decade and is what I draw on most for inspiration. My thoughts and beliefs allow me to express myself in a humorous way without cussing and being explicit.
What are or were some of the strongest currents from your influences you had to absorb before you understood your own work?
The first the comes to mind is that I have learned to treat my planning process like I would start a painting; doodling, sketching, letting loose before tightening up idea’s and aesthetics. It helps me with placement, spacing, type, colors, focal points and formal elements.
Do formal concerns, such as perspective and art history, interest you? Defiantly. I’m very concerned about formal elements, especially light and shadows and composition. At this point I’m not very concerned about art history, but I see its value and am not opposed to researching my predecessors more. Currently I’m focused on creating my own distant style without outside influences.
What do your choice of images mean to you?
For the most part, my images and lyrics come from songs and artist that inspire me. Sometimes I find an interesting photo and want to recreate it. In other cases, I create a traditional looking piece with contrasting content. With the images and text I choose, I shine a new light on hip hop. It’s not all gun, violence and money, and when it is, I think it’s humorous. I want to highlight and show respect to figures in hip hop.
Do you have any secrets in your work you will tell us?
I will tell you that I create all my patterns and that my first 25-30 were hand drawn. I try to keep reverse side’s of my pieces as clean as the front. I make a lot of “mistakes” in my work. I do my best to hide them, I hope I’m the only one that notices them.
How do you hope history treats your work?
I work every day to create more work and to promote myself. Every year is better than the last for me and I can only hope my hard work pays off and eventually make it into the history books and museums.
Where can we find you and your work?
Website: daveygravy.ca. Instagram/Twitter: davey_gravy
eMbroidery was created with the support and wisdom of the magnificent Bascom Hogue.
If you are, or know of, a male embroiderer that we should interview as part of this series, contact us!