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I’m stoked to share with you one of my favorite artists I have come across exploring Etsy. Sam Gibson’s embroidered illustration is a fantastic example modern creative mark-making. Meet artist Sam Gibson and see his Etsy Shop! !
Tell me about your background in fiber art. Initial inspirations, schooling,etc.
I was taught to embroider and use a sewing machine when I was very small. My mum made a lot of our clothes and my aunts would regularly visit sitting around chatting and sewing or knitting. It was very natural for me to carry on with these skills. We were taught very traditional styles, floral patterns on table cloths, basic crewel work and these have stayed with me. In art lessons at school we were encouraged to create 3 dimensional objects as well as painting, drawing and printing but as all my teachers were male it wasn’t usually in textiles and didn’t often involve sewing, in fact I don’t ever remember having a sewing lesson at secondary school. I was pretty much a lone stitcher. As a teenage Goth in the late 80s sewing was essential to help me create my ‘look’ ( hilariously uncool). For many years I didn’t sew very often but in the late 90s I rediscovered it as a very natural way for me to make art.
What are some of your current inspirations?
I love the idea of recreating decorative objects in fabric and have been looking a lot at Victorian taxidermy and the meticulous work of hobbyists from that era. People creating lovely things just for the sake of it. I am also very interested in reliquaries and love tokens. I have been collecting vintage and antique glass cases which I plan to use to house the new objects I am sewing. Heavily beaded hearts, sequinned fish and insects and tribute to lost loved ones. Also fake relics. I also love working on super sized stuff, massive lettering and super big floral patterns, giant stitched eyes. Very tightly stitched, neat typography thrills me to bits. I get a big kick out of seeing work I know has taken ages and ages, intense time consuming work is so great to see. I love the recent site specific work that Bridgeen Gillespie ( of Cherry and Cinnamon ) has created for the MAK9s ‘Draw on The Walls’ exhibition, her stitchery is amazing and also the super neat work of Laura Mason ( Mason Bee).
Can you give some specific examples of how you use your design process to communicate to your clients?
To be absolutely honest my design process is very muddled and would probably totally confuse a client. My customers tend to approach me with requests to re-create work they have seen on the internet somewhere but has already sold or they may see an item in my Etsy shop and want a different colour option or a different quote in a different font. These are all requests that are very simple to accommodate. I tend to fill sketch books with a lot of scribbly drawings, cross them all out and throw the sketch book away. I will them spend hours looking at books and images on the internet and confuse myself further with what I am actually trying to create. THEN I will go to bed and dream up the perfect design and just go straight to sewing it. I guess none of this behaviour makes it easy to communicate with clients. Oh dear I need to work on that. ; )
What is it about creating things for others that differs from making things for yourself?
Creating for a friend is easy as pie, you know them well, you know what they like, it’s an easy leap to a finished object. Creating for a client can be stressful unless the brief is very specific. My pieces tend to be one off works, I hand draw or sketch onto the fabric and sew over the top. It can be difficult to re create a sold piece closely enough so I have to be very clear about how I work so I know the customer will be happy with the item they have commissioned. It is a great joy when I nail it and the customer is excited by the resulting work.
It’s actually been a long time since I created or made anything specifically for myself, that would be the ultimate in relaxation. I am usually working on tried and tested items for my online shops or working on a commission. I plan to finish my current batch of commissions and then take time out to sit and do some serious designing and making, possibly with an exhibition in mind. It would be an exciting change to work on pieces that will be viewed in a gallery as opposed to sold and shipped off. There is a small gallery space in the building where I have my studio so I could try it out on my unsuspecting fellow artists before unleashing any work on the public. I do however consider myself extremely lucky that everyday I get to sew and that people are interested in my work and want to own it. I never take that for granted.
How has etsy changed the way you communicate with other artists and clients?
I think primarily Etsy has helped me greatly in putting myself out there at all and to not be shy about my work. It has given me the confidence to approach other artists and connect with them, communicating through the forums and other social network sites. Etsy is a fantastic online venue and has helped me to tighten up the way I present my work on the internet. Being such a vast venue you really do have to work on photographs and online retailing techniques to be seen. Etsy has a great community and no question is too silly, someone will always offer help if needed. It is a great place to discover people whose work you have never seen before or connect with other artists working in the same medium as yourself.
The Kingpin of Contemporary Embroidery. Committed to changing the way the world thinks about needlecraft.