Describing her work as whimsical dark humor, embroidery artist and designer Lindsay Swearingen takes cross stitch to a level beyond traditional schoolchild samplers. Designed and stitched with as much precision as a family heirloom, Lindsay’s work embraces traditional cross stitch skills, creating fiber art with a nod towards the macabre.
How did you find yourself on an artist’s path? Always there? Lightbulb moment? Dragged kicking and screaming? Evolving?
I have always had a desire to create. I’ve dabbled in many mediums (mostly unsuccessfully) but when I am able to create something I love, it’s very exciting. So I would say my work is always evolving.
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What inspires you to create?
I think I’m most inspired by other artists. Two of my favorite artists are Edward Gorey and Christine McConnell, because both have a really wonderful dark whimsical style that I’m drawn to. Whenever I have the pleasure of enjoying their work, I am flooded with ideas of things I want to create.
Why cross stitch? How does that medium best express what you want to communicate through your art?
It was a journey to finally reach cross stitch as my chosen medium. I still dabble in other mediums, like pen and ink, but I finally landed on cross stitch after discovering that I could design my own patterns. I’d mainly worked in embroidery up until this point, but I wasn’t always satisfied with the outcome. (It was also very hard on my hands). Cross stitch came a bit more easily to me.
What is the main takeaway you want readers to gain from your new book, Creepy Cross-Stitch?
Creepy Cross-Stitch offers 25 spooky patterns designed to haunt your halls all year round. Stitch phantom felines, haunted houses, stylized ghouls, and creepy creatures. Anyone with an appreciation of the macabre will be sure to enjoy the patterns in Creepy Cross-Stitch.
When it comes to creating, are you more of a planner or an improviser?
It depends on what I’m making. I do occasionally “free hand” cross stitch (working without a pattern), which I would consider more improvisation. However, I sometimes do big projects (I’ve recently been filling house shaped picture frames with cross stitch designs) which require more thought and planning.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like?
My dedicated space is my living room sofa, which is very cozy, even when a bit cluttered.
What are the indispensable tools and materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
My number one most important tool (aside from the necessities, like needle, thread, fabric) is my needle minder and pin cushion. It’s important to keep needles in a dedicated place when they aren’t in use. Safety first!
·What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies? If so, what kind?
I tend to re-watch the same TV series and movies when I’m working, since it doesn’t require my full attention. I love to have the Great British Baking Show or Good Omens as company while I stitch. Recently I’ve had The Mummy on repeat.
Do you focus on one piece exclusively from start to finish or work actively on more than one project at a time?
I like to have multiple projects going. I usually have one very big project and a couple smaller projects working at once. When I feel like the bigger project will never end, I switch to something smaller and more achievable to feel like I’m making progress. It works for me.
Is there an overarching theme that connects all of your work?
I think my overarching theme would be described as “subtly spooky” because I like to create designs that feel just a bit off or strange. Also, I always want to have some degree of dark humor and whimsy.
Which artists do you admire? What draws you to their work?
My two favorite artists are Edward Gorey and Christine McConnell. Both have such a way with tongue-in-cheek dark humor and elaborate gothic detail. I’ve never been much of a minimalist; Both Gorey and McConnell have beautiful, excessive aesthetics that I think are dreamy.
Interview published October 2021
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