Riki Inge creates fiber art with her hand dyed fabrics layered with acrylic paints and hand stitching to create depth and texture. Using her graphic design skills she launched her line of embroidery patterns, making stitching accessible for anyone.
How did you get started making art?
Have a Bachelor’s degree in Crafts. I wanted to get my degree in Textiles but I hated weaving so much that I ended up with a degree in metal smithing. I started doing full coverage embroidery art after I graduated. It is like painting but with only one or two strands of embroidery floss. My embroidery got me a Fellowship from VMFA for Graduate School for textiles. I loved the freedom to embroider all day and night but I realized that making a living from embroidery would be difficult.
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I found a job as an in-house artist for an art publishing company. Even though I had zero painting experience I grew with the company and made hundreds of pieces of art that were sold in big box stores and featured on TV and movie sets.
After having my twins I got very burned out from the job and wanted to work for myself. I started to get back into embroidery and creating a personal work. I gave myself some parameters. I had to use materials that I had on hand. I had tons of embroidery floss from my college days and hand dyed fabric that I had bean hoarding for many years. I combined these with stretched canvases that I had from a failed Etsy store.
I used the method of layering that I had used when working with acrylic paint and applied it to working in cloth and stitching. I started by layering stitched pieces of my hand dyed fabrics to create a base. I then add some decorative elements to give depth and texture. Finally I embroider the main design on top. The top embroidery is often larger scale decorative motifs from nature. My favorite stitch to use is a wide chain stitch so that the stitching below shows through a bit. Layering and using hand dyed fabrics give texture and interest to the pieces. This also gives them the feeling of existing in time.
How do you manage creative time?
It is very difficult running a product based business to have creative time. As I am shipping orders and sanding embroidery hoops, my mind is still sifting through ideas and images in the background.
I keep lots of references to ideas so that when I do have time to sit down and create I have a ton of ideas. I like print out or create mood boards to help keep my work on brand and cohesive.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating?
Yes! I just moved into my new workspace we built in the backyard. I love it so much and I am so appreciative to have such a wonderful space of my own. For the last 7 years I have been working from a room in our house.
My new space is a big room with bright windows. I have plenty of space for shelving and storage. I found a huge work table and a vintage bright orange office chair at a local thrift shop.
Can you tell us about the inspiration and process of your work?
When I got back into embroidery about five years ago, I started following lots of embroiderers on Instagram and realized that there were people selling embroidery kits. I thought hey I can do that! It combined my love embroidery and my love of design. I used my self taught skills in graphic design to create images to print on fabric. I pride myself on adapting images to be stitch friendly so that Rikrack kits are not only beautiful but fun and easy to stitch.
I try to produce two product releases a year. There is so much prep that goes into creating kits. I also use the designs to create other products like needle minders and stickers. Additionally, I incorporate art prints with my product line. After creating artwork everyday for decades for a living I just can’t stop creating art. I work in Procreate because it is so convenient when juggling work and kids.
Do you think creating is part of human nature or is something that must be nurtured and learned?
Because I have been a working artist for so long I can come across as a bit jaded about creativity. When I worked as an in house artist I had weekly quotas and worked in a grey office cubicle with no windows. I learned to always have lots of image ideas ready to go. I take a lot of ideas that interest me and group them into categories based sometimes on color, theme or style. Then I will assemble mood boards and make a list of images that I want to create.
What is on your someday creative wish list?
I hope to hire a production assistant so that I can spend more time on creating art. I would like to known for my art as much as the embroidery kits.
Tell me about your blog or website. What do you want people to gain by visiting?
I use my website not just as a retail shop but as a learning tool. Everyone who stitches a Rikrack kit is directed to rikrack.com to find a page dedicated to their kit as well as info for getting started, stitch guides and how to videos. I try to create an environment where I am right there with you to guide your embroidery experience.
Interview posted April 2023
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