Thursday, December 19, 2013

I had a chance to work on a fun collaboration this past month with an artist I look up to and a guy I'm grateful to call a friend. I have been admiring Oliver Hibert's art and career for years now, and, through the wonders of the internet, we developed a fast friendship that has bridged the 2,000 miles between us. Now, what started as a casual Instagram comment, has turned into my largest knit piece to date!

"Dead! Dead! Dead!" materialized as a limited edition screen-printed run for Oliver. I instantly saw its knitted potential with the amount of thick color-blocking he used. At the time, I didn't think the bottom half would be doable. How could I knit all those drips without having my own skull melt out my ears? Then I just haaad to go and be ambitious -- I didn't want to change his image so I decided to just figure out how to make it work.

Remember my first foray into Intarsia color knitting? With the "Aloof" pieces? Well, because of those projects, this piece was significantly easier, even though at my most complicated section I got up to 32 BALLS OF WORKING YARN ON MY NEEDLES, as seen in the picture above. Fortunately, a lot of the drips were small moments of color that I could start and stop relatively quickly before the yarns got completely tangled and hindered my progress. I had found in the past that placing the yarn balls in their respective tins helped with organization but really just keeping your balls small and being able to pull them through potential knots is what keeps this technique, and you project, from failing.

I also knew I would need to use acrylic yarn for this to get the brightest colors possible. I can't believe how nice (and cheap) this yarn was! I always associate acrylic yarn with the scratchy afghans my great-grandmother used to make, but yarn technology has come a long way since then. And since this piece is not intended to keep a body warm, you don't have to worry about its lack of insulation.

Here I am after I got back down to only the background color, and couldn't resist laying it out and getting a photograph. The main way I achieved the results I wanted and stayed true to Oliver's drawing was the sneaky use of duplicate stitch, a process where you go into the knitting after it's taken off the needles and "change" the color of certain stitches. Some colors worked better on top of other colors and some illusions were more successful than others. And I love how the duplicate stitch creates slight dimension in the piece that adds a whole nother level of interest for in-person viewing. Sorry, Internet, some things can only be appreciated in person!

Here is the piece in its (almost) final state. It won't be fully realized till it is stretched into a frame. That'll be way more attractive than this old piece of contour foam I have it pinned to for now.

One design element that I can't seem to learn yet is that knitting is not a perfectly square thing. If you design a piece on graph paper, and knit it exactly as you see it, your image will come out wider, giving it the appearance of being squished. That's why you see designs in books that look stretched out. I even told myself this as I was still transposing this image to a working knit pattern but didn't make any changes. I figured that since I would be stretching it into a frame then I could stretch it into its proper proportion. And I will mostly be able to do that but I kinda wish I had just made the small adjustment when I had the time. Why do we do these kinds of things to ourselves??

 I love it!! Getting to finally step back from this project has been so enjoyable, I can't wait for Oliver to finally see it in person. Alas, our lives don't have many opportunities to cross paths but mailing art is a lot cheaper than a plane ticket. Who knows, I feel like 2014 will have lots of exciting things in store for both of us.

On a final note, I wanted to say that Oliver and I met through us reaching out to each other via e-mail, phone, and social media. If I can offer any nuggets to chew on, I want you to not be afraid to reach out to someone you found on the Internet that you admire. Express your enthusiasm, ask questions, or just say hey! You never know what kind of response you'll get back but I find that those who look like huge successes are also just people, making it through their day-to-day. And you can create a fabulous website but it doesn't mean you have any idea who is actually looking at it. Many have warned about the isolation that can come from the computer, but I also see the potential to connect to people with similar interests that you would otherwise never get a chance to meet. Hey, you might even find a new friend :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I finally took the suggestion people have been telling me to do for years and open an Etsy shop! Well, opening the shop is pretty easy and apparently I did that a few years ago BUT STARTING TODAY I am actually offering things for sale!! The prints I had made for my show earlier this year are now available for purchase -- some in larger quantities than others -- and if anyone has any feedback for me about what kinds of things you would like to see for sale, I would LOVE to hear them! I was thinking I could put original knittings up... 

Definitely have varied projects in the works that will be getting put up as soon as they get finished. I've been working with Spoonflower to get some fabric printed and, well, y'all just hafta wait and see!

Thursday, December 5, 2013


what do these titles mean to you?

SO, I had a bit of a personal revelation this year, and it had to do with these two titles. I grew up focused on drawing and painting, they were my idea of fine art and I defined myself within their terms. I enrolled at Savannah College of Art and Design under the impression I would continue into Painting and Illustration but quickly got turned on to the Fashion and Fibers departments. My thought was always that an artist shouldn't have a problem designing and designing was like "product art" or something. When I found myself responsible for designing clothes, I looked to my inner artist for creativity. 

Sounds pretty straight forward, right?

Well, not exactly.

I discovered a real anxiety would come up through my system every time I had to do my 50 fashion croquis a week; it didn't flow like the way art would for me. The illustrating, that was the fun part. Rendering designs and embellishing my sketchbook was where I felt confident. These pains still didn't tune me in to the inherent differences between artists and designers or how I defined myself by them. Maybe I just thought that I needed more practice designing before those feelings went away. 

Obviously they share a mutual base, heck, the school says in its name that it's for art and design! They both benefit from color theory, art history, business classes, interacting with and inspiring each other. What's different is where their motivations are coming from and the end result they seek. And good lord, you can find yourself some damn opinions on this topic when you google it (I like these guys' thoughts the most)! For me, design is more product-driven, more clearly defined in the message it wants to convey and its purpose. Art is more free-form, more expressive-based.

I came to the conclusion that I am an artist and not a designer, and it felt very relieving to understand that about myself. I probably could be a good designer with practice but I like this inherently-good-already art stuff, ha! Design doesn't do it for me like the way art does. And now I feel like I can 'let myself off the hook' when I think I can just sit down and design a poster or design a dress line. I at least understand not to approach it like the way I approach my artwork. Ironically enough, the knit art I've been working on for the past year feels more like design than any other art I've made, but I would still consider it art. Confused yet?

Alls I'm saying is it felt good to define what they meant for me and how I viewed and understood myself. I know everyone's always getting scared of getting older but I kinda love some of this growing up.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A little snippet from my family's Thanksgiving festivities in Durham. Sister-in-law, Jess, snuck an awesome shot of me showing off my latest filet crochet endeavor. Getting mixed reviews on my choice of words on this one. How do you explain to your mom the artistic reasoning behind "Tig Ol' Bitties"?