featured artist :: hand & shadow

from the archives: 1.10.11

name: Georgie Russell
company: Hand & Shadow
links: web | blog | etsy

What do you make?
Screen-printed t-shirts and scarves

What or who inspires you?
I can find inspiration anywhere, but it is much harder when I’m looking. I read a good deal, fiction and non-fiction, look online, spend time with other makers of things… I try to be open to seeing things in the world. I also spend a good deal of time letting my mind wander until an idea forms itself.

How did you get started?
I went to Emily Carr and worked with printmaking. After school I worked as a screen-printer, which taught me some useful skills and showed me the way I didn’t want to do things. I was part of the Seamrippers Craft collective which was very influential for me. I was able to have a hand in the set up of the screen-printing area and taught some workshops. It was also a concentration of so many skills and personalities that it was impossible to walk away unchanged. I left the collective to begin screen-printing for myself, it just seemed the best fit for me at the time. It’s been hard at times, but I think that shows in the work I make.

What are your favourite materials to work with?
Discharge ink. It’s a bleach based ink and I love the variation of results that I can get. It prints clear, which can be tricky, and can be unpredictable, but I think I’ve reached a point of working with it where I can make its changeability work in my favour. I print almost exclusively on cotton, as the ink only works on natural fibres. I have been experimenting with wool and silk as well, but nothing concrete so far.

What is the hardest and your most favourite part of crafting?
I have trouble keeping focused. I work a full time job and there often isn’t time to go to the studio. It can also be hard to create new designs while constantly playing catch-up with the old designs. But I love the small successes, and that magical sensation when an idea starts to solidify in my thoughts and the moment when I finish a print and it is exactly how I pictured it in my mind.

Do you have any advice for those in the biz?
Celebrate small victories. Except for the very lucky and very few of us, it will be a long hard uphill climb. And it is an amazing journey, but every mention on someone’s blog, every delighted repeat customer and every bit of positive feedback helps. It’s hard work and one has to stay motivated somehow. So hold on to those good moments, hopefully the victories get bigger.

Do you consider yourself an artist or a crafter?
Both and neither. I consider myself a crafter, but not entirely as I still associate craft with a specific aesthetic that I’m not sure I belong to. I consider myself an artist, but I have an art practice outside the clothing that I make. So sort a midway point between both, and perhaps something else entirely.

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