Embroidery: Twin Talents

Some years ago we profiled two talented embroiderers, graphic artists who interpret their designs in stitch. We revisit the story as they will be joining us at the Melbourne Craft & Quilt Fair as special guests and to teach hands-on workshops.

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Maricor and Maricar are designers that illustrate and illustrators who embroider. They’ve made the most of their slightly obsessive compulsive impulses by taking up needle and thread as their tools of choice.

The duo are featured artists at the Melbourne Craft & Quilt Fair, where they will be displaying their fresh and funky designs and teaching mini stitching workshops which are sure to draw a crowd.

They have handcrafted tactile graphics for clients such as Myer, Vogue Japan, Washington Post, West Elm, Land of Nod, Oh Joy!, Design*Sponge, Wired Magazine UK, ESPN Magazine, British Council Australia, Havas Worldwide, Clemenger BBDO and TOMS Shoes. They were awarded a British Council RYD award in 2010 and in 2012 they were selected as Art Directors Club Young Guns.

We had the pleasure of getting to know the pair, and found out what inspires them and gained some insight into what they will be teaching in their mini stitching workshops at the Melbourne Craft & Quilt Fair from July 28-31. Here is our interview:

  1. When were you both first exposed to the world of craft?

As children we were encouraged to make and play – if we didn’t have something we made it ourselves; for example we crafted our own dollhouses and diorama sets using material, paper and cardboard boxes.

Professionally, we both started dabbling in craft when we were employed as graphic designers, specialising in projects for the music industry. The band, Architecture in Helsinki, wanted to create a point of difference to an animated music video for their new release ‘Like it or Not’. We were both keen to add an element of craft and were excited to create a stop animation of embroidered graphics. Watch the video here.

  1. What was the first craft you each learnt?

As mentioned, we were quite hands on as children and did a lot of paper-based craft. We both have fond memories of making paper flowers with our mother.

We’ve always been enthusiastic about learning hand generated graphics as we love anything hands on so have dabbled in various crafts over the years. But professionally, the first craft we both learnt was embroidery. Before that, for fun, for a personal project we had dabbled in tatting.

  1. Where do you find inspiration for fresh designs, eg do you draw influence from any cultures or your surroundings?

For us both, music is a big inspiration. As we do a lot of lettering and typography, we create a lot of our phrases based on song lyrics we have stuck in our head or words that strike a chord with us.

We surround ourselves with art and found objects from different countries and that subliminally comes through in different patterns and designs.

  1. I heard you have lived overseas –has this influenced your work?

Yes it does. We lived overseas in London for just under a year when we started to take embroidery seriously as a professional career. It exposed us to a lot of work in design and art direction that utilised three dimensional and hand crafted graphics.

  1. How long have you been doing craft?

We have been embroidering seriously and as a career for six years. Prior to this we were graphic designers, where we were responsible for developing poster designs, music videos, website designs and animations.

  1. What are your top two career accomplishments so far?

Our biggest career accomplishment is definitely the Myer’s Mother’s Day project this year (2016). This was special to us not only because our work was being exposed to a national audience, but because it included our own mother and was the first time our parents saw our work out in the open.

Another accomplishment we’re both still really proud of is the project that started it all, the animation we did for Architecture in Helsinki’s song ‘Like it or Not’. We really threw ourselves in the deep end with this project and didn’t know what to expect. But it ended up being a really enjoyable experience for us both and was the start of the next chapter of our careers.

  1. How did you learn embroidery?

We bought a book of embroidery stitches, which we now refer to as our bible. It covers all types of stitching and we have learnt all the different styles of stitching we use day to day from this book. Apart from that, we are always researching different techniques and fresh ideas online. Although we didn’t take any classes or tutorials we were resourceful. Whenever we were curious about learning a new technique we would find a way to do so.

  1. As graphic designers, why is it that you have chosen to interpret your designs in stitch – rather than paint etc?

We love the dimension and textures of stitching and embroidery. We love working with light and shadow and exploit the textures in many of our artworks. We recently created a whole work in white, using white thread on white fabric. So the lettering was created by building up texture. Shadows, light and the tactility of fabric made the graphic visible.

  1. What other handcrafts do you do?

At this stage embroidery is our main focus but we are looking to implement other crafts and utilise various techniques to add elements to our work. We are both interested in learning more about weaving and patchwork as we think that both of these crafts would work really well with embroidery.

  1. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully we will still be doing what we love and would have expanded our business. We love the freedom of working for ourselves so would like to be doing that still and also collaborating with other artists. We are eager to explore product-based art with furnishings and materials we haven’t yet had the opportunity to work with, so we’re hoping to build a portfolio of work in that area.

  1. What are you most excited about seeing/doing when you attend the Craft & Quilt Fair?

We’re excited about teaching our workshops that we exclusively developed for the fair. We’re really eager to meet everyone who has signed up to participate in our workshops and share our knowledge with them. We’re excited to be around like-minded people and those who are enthusiastic about crafting and open to learning new techniques.

  1. Can you tell us something about the work you will be displaying at the fair?

We’re bringing a large amount of our commercial work archive that we have been able to retain. These artworks will display the versatility of embroidery. In our commercial work we’ve stitched anything from sushi to anatomical drawings.

We will also be showcasing our personally driven artwork which is a more modern take on embroidery. We bring a graphic approach to embroidering, which is more organic and rather than being straight embroidery, is a combination of paint and embroidery.

  1. What can visitors expect to learn from the mini-stitching workshops you will be hosting?

We are teaching four different workshops that cater for all different skill levels and that take a light hearted approach to embroidery. Workshops ideal for beginners include our I Heart Pattern samplers which are designed for people new to embroidery and want to learn the basic stitches. Our other beginner’s class is our Thank You Letter workshop where participants will create a modern monogram. This class will take inspiration from water coloured lettering for a more organic and freeform approach to embroidery.  Our third workshop is a tongue in cheek beginner’s class where participants can sew their own Subversive Stitched phrases. Our fourth workshop ‘Sweater Letters’ is ideal for those who have some experience with embroidery where we share tips and tricks to craft more detailed and patterned monograms.

We’re so excited about showing that embroidery is a great craft to learn, where you don’t need years of experience or to be highly technical. To us, embroidery is about being creative; it can be loose, organic and experimental.

Maricor and Maricar will be showing their embroidery and teaching short workshops at the Melbourne Craft & Quilt Fair from July 28 to 31, 2016 at Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

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