Stephen Wilson uses modern technology to create contemporary artwork rooted in traditional craft. He uses fabric and thread to create his images in the same way a painter might use oil and canvas.
Why textiles? Why digitized embroidery? How did you get started?
When people think of embroidery, they think of handcrafts and embroidery. But I wanted to remove that from the equation and think of it in a canvas form and how does this look on a wall. It became a medium for me, just like paint would be for another artist.
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How has your creativity evolved over the years? What triggered the evolution to new ways of working?
My way of working is constantly evolving. So I find it very important to adapt to what works best and analyze the process time and time again to improve.
What inspires you? Are there recurring themes in your work?
The brands influence the pieces, because I’ll take Chanel or Hermes or Dior — which are very traditional luxury brands. The designs that I apply to them will have a traditional angle but with a modern touch.
How do you make the leap from an idea in your head to the art you produce?
It all starts with a luxury box. So first I have to find those boxes through all different avenues from eBay to flea markets, etc. The inspiration then comes for a specific color palette so all pieces will fit together seamlessly. Then I’ll start sketching just to get an idea down on paper. After that process, I’ll start digitizing each design, then stitch the pieces and finally construct the design.
What do you do differently – your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
Every element in these designs is created at my studio. When you see little sculpted items they’re 3-D printed in the studio, laser-cut pieces are done here, yarn stitched through a box is all done in the studio.
Are there indispensable tools and materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
If you took a tour of the studio, you would find anything from simple glue guns to huge embroidery machines and everything in between. Every element in the artwork is made in the studio — so you can imagine the amount of supplies and tools that are required.
Do you use a sketchbook or journal? If so, how does that help your work develop?
A sketchbook is one of those simple tools that I use everyday. So there are failed ideas to some of the most successful designs in all of my sketchbooks. My studio has an entire shelf devoted to my sketchbooks. The design might start out a particular way, but as the process develops, it can change dramatically. However, the original intent will stay true to the design.
Do you think that creativity comes naturally to people – or do you think creativity is a skill that people can learn?
I am in the mindset that creativity is a natural skillset — but a skill is learned and improved upon if you practice. It’s similar to music or athletic ability, so with training and focused practice, you get better.
Which artists do you admire? What draws you to their work?
That is a challenging question because there are new artists all the time that I find. But I really find a lot of inspiration in the traditional techniques that have been present throughout American history. Also, embroidery is practiced all over the world and it is important to look at that.
Where can people find and purchase your work?
You can purchase my pieces online as well as at galleries across the country.
- Art Angels, Los Angeles, CA
- Axiom Gallery, Winter Park, FL
- DTR Modern Galleries; Washington DC, Palm Beach, Boston, New York City
- Exhibit by Aberson, Tulsa, OK
- Gefen Fine Art, San Francisco, CA
- Lori Karbal, Birmingham, MI
- Miller Gallery, Cincinnati, OH
- New Gallery of Modern Art, Charlotte, NC
- Parlor Gallery, Asbury Park, NJ
- Revel Art, Japan
- Roman Fine Art, East Hampton, NY
- VW Contemporary, Greenwich, CT
Interview posted September, 2019.
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