Some quick questions to get started:
Mornings or nights?
First of all, for those who haven’t come across you and your work, tell me a bit about your creative process. What’s your main medium and materials?
I guess my practice is quite broad now – I’ve always described myself as a textile designer but now I think I describe myself more as an artist because my practice extends out of textile design now. So I’m a painter, clothing designer, textile designer, I’m a tattoo artist and I paint murals and I’m a workshop facilitator. So I do a lot in my day now, which is really cool because it keeps me interested and I’m able to do different things every day and meet lots of different people and do lots of different things. At the base of it all I’m an artist which is a big word to put on yourself. People are quite reserved in calling themselves that, but I think I hold it now and I want to call myself that above anything else.
I remember visiting your website a few years ago when you had just uploaded your first pieces, and then it just took off – has it changed much since then?
So much. I guess it took off two years ago now, which is crazy because it still feels really fresh but it does feel like I’ve been doing it a long time. When I started doing that I was just sewing and printing things, and it wasn’t really an artistic practice… it was a less vulnerable creative process, it was a way to put my ideas onto something and not say too much, whereas now it’s putting my whole mind, heart and body into what I create across different mediums. Now the clothing label doesn’t really exist anymore – it’s still kicking along, but it’s not what I put my time into. So it’s very different, but it gave me a platform to start from – that clothing label gave me a name so I can go and do all the shit that I really love as opposed to those things that are quite draining and repetitive. So much has changed in the last two years.
You also take workshops, correct?
My first workshop came up when Guild of Objects asked me to run a workshop on screen printing and I thought I’d never do that because it’s so scary having ten people have an expectation that you know what you’re doing, that’s really terrifying! But I did it because I needed the money at the time, and I thought it would be an interesting experience, and now I really like it! I like teaching people the thing I do in my day to day and watching something that seems quite mundane to me be quite inspiring to someone else and them get really excited printing and then they pull that screen up and look at what they’ve done, so that’s why I do it. And also, it means I have to be somewhere at a certain time and switch off from my brain whereas with my creative practice, I’m so in my head and I’m a really emotional person, so if I work five days a week in my studio, I’m very in my head and bogged down by that. So having a job that I can go to is not only very important for my mental health, but also lets me meet people and do something different.
What’s exciting you lately, creative or otherwise?
I was going to ask you about that! I’m seeing a lot of your tattoos on Instagram!
Yeah! That’s really exciting for me, I’ve only really been doing it for two or three months and I’ve done over 50. I like the physicality of it, the process of it… I’m hand-poking them so all the tiny pin pricks make up the shape and it feels kind of like you’re embroidering. And there’s a connection and intimacy with the person you’re tattooing. I tattoo all the people really close in my life and that is so beautiful that they have my artwork foever on their body when I’m not with them. And having people trust you, come into my house and receive artwork. I’ve done people’s first tattoos and that’s crazy. It has given me freedom to restructure how I live – I’ve just come out of a period of being really ill and tattooing has afforded me the time to do a couple a day and make more money than I’ve been making in a long time and still have time to live and be a person and not run myself into the ground the way I was before. Not only is that really exciting – the actual process of tattooing – but the way it’s allowing me to live my life right now. I’m able to foster relationships better than before when I was running 24/7 working.
Is there a lot of pressure putting artwork onto someone’s body?
Everyone asks me that – you’re literally stabbing into someone this artwork. It hasn’t actually terrified me at all – the first tattoo I did was on my housemate and he was really chilled and he was like ye, have my leg, go for it. I feel like I was creating clothing that people were putting on their bodies and this is the next step. Maybe one day it will hit, but I do acknowledge that it’s a very big deal and important thing – I’m not taking it lightly.
I like being creative because I find it really therapeutic and healing. When I’m stressed I want to go and be creative. Sometimes I don’t want to, but I know if I do something creative I’ll feel better. The best thing for me is kneading clay. Is it tattooing for you?
Probably tattooing, yeah. For the most part my entire life is creative so I use things like yoga more as therapy than my creative process. Writing, too. Yoga and writing are the two things I go to when I’m not feeling good within myself. I go to something outside my creative practice.
Does that mean being creative ever feels like work?
No, it never feels like work. Sometimes I think the way I live my life is too linked with my creative process and it feels too much. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I just quit my job and got a job doing something else. But it never really feels like work, but can be draining.
Often people say ‘I’m not creative’ and as a result, they’re too afraid to go out and explore their creativity. So many people lack creative confidence. Would you call yourself creatively confident?
Yeah, I guess so! I’ve never thought about it like that!
Is creative confidence something you worked on?
Yeah. When you knew me in high school, I wasn’t really that into art before we took that Design Tech class. I neglected that part of my brain, didn’t really want to explore, but now I’ve worked on it and gotten to a point where I’m not afraid of what everyone’s thinking. There’s no need to actually consider what people are thinking, because for the most part, half the people won’t like it, understand where it comes from, and others won’t give it time… What you do can’t be for anyone else, and you need to acknowledge that and accept that the creative process is only for you, and if someone gets something out of it, amazing. But if you get bogged down with why your work matters and start thinking about why it matters and what importance it has, you’re never going to get anywhere. So you might as well just do it and stop being concerned about what other people think. That whole thing about drawing… everyone can draw! You just have to pick up a pencil and do it over and over again and that allows creativity to flow and increase your confidence.
So doing… is that how you would encourage people to explore their creativity?
Is collaboration important for exploring creative confidence?
Yeah, my first big collaboration was with a boyfriend and we were just making work together. We discussed our process and we naturally began creating work together. It was just an extension of who we were together and as ourselves. Then I did bigger collaborations like a ceramics collab with ----- and frances Canon with a clothing line – stuff like that has been a little more difficult in terms of discussing money and what role we each have. But it is integral and I love learning from someone else. We each have something we can bring to a situation that has taken years to develop. You’re never going to be able to do all the things you want to do because it’s just too much, so why not lean on someone else's set of skills and brain and create work together or learn together? They are daunting sometimes, but when you’re just making work together for the hell of it, it’s beautiful.
The new year is coming up – do you have any big plans or resolutions you can share?
It’s all a mystery, really. I’ve only just really gotten back on my feet, I had close to three months off work this year, so a lot of work… I just didn’t think about it. So I haven’t got much planned for next year, but things come up. I’m doing fashion week in March, and we’re doing a show, and otherwise there’s not much planned, which is unsurprising really because for the last two years I’ve been going with whatever comes my way, I feel like if I planned it then I would never have done any of the things I’ve been lucky to do. I’ve got nothing tying me down, so I can take opportunities. I’ve contemplated the idea of doing some work overseas, but I don’t know. I’ll wait and see what happens.
Do you have any tips for someone to get the confidence to start putting their art out there in the world? And how they can be less critical of their work?
Well that in itself is a thing – be less critical, but don’t stop being critical. But try looking at things in a different way. Try to work out if it’s saying all the things you want to say, because that’s enough. It doesn’t have to be finished, it doesn’t have to be perfect, there’s always going to be people who are better, that’s just how it is. The comparison thing… you’ve got to forget about that. And a lot of people talk about social media and how bad it is to constantly compare yourself with this, that and the other… but it’s like that in real life anyway. Everyone’s always going to be comparing themselves, and the moment you stop doing that, is the moment that you’re actual to let go and actually create work. If I was really thinking about how good my work was? Nothing would be out there. To be honest, I don’t really ever think my work is any good, but I think that my work is saying what I want to say and it is doing something different to someone else, and that’s what I got the following that I do, because I’m not afraid to do it, and I work hard at it, and that’s the bottom line of everything. Get rid of that fear and work hard at it.
Finally, where can people find you, online and otherwise?