We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Gwen Rucker. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Gwen below.
Gwen, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Can you talk to us about a project that’s meant a lot to you?
This year I began working on a quilt in hopes of using up some of the scrap fabric I have accumulated over the years. I have been working as a textile artist for about five years but up until recently all of my projects involved purchasing new fabric, not long ago I looked around and realized how much waste I had accumulated. With this project I have challenged myself to use only fabric and supplies I already had in an effort to reimagine waste as an element in a work of art. The main blocks of the quilt are made from embroidery hoop lining that has been stitched back together and patched using scrap from embroidered dolls. The batting layer will be towels and old no longer worn clothing, which in the past would have been donated and most likely ended up in a landfill. The events of the pandemic really forced me to take note of the areas of my life in which I’ve been wasteful and while this is only a small step, I’m proud of this project because it feels like a small way in which I can change my daily habits and begin to be more mindful about waste and repurposing.
Gwen, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
My name is Gwen Rucker and I have been an embroidery digitizer/textile artist for a little over five years. My background is in graphic design and I use those skills to first draw a piece of art on the computer and then design stitches for machine embroidery patterns. I make colorful embroidered dolls, wall tapestries, tote bags, ornaments, baskets, and now recently quilts and quilted bags. I really enjoy the tactile nature of working with fabric and exploring new ways of using it in art pieces. I’ve also had the fortune of collaborating with other artists such as the band Lucius and had dolls featured in an independent movie. My work can always be recognized by striking color combinations and vintage inspired designs.
What can society do to ensure an environment that’s helpful to artists and creatives?
If you would like to give more support to creatives and artists consider searching for a handmade version instead of manufactured gifts. You can also take the time to write reviews as they can really help makers reach a larger audience or inform future buyers. Spread the word by suggesting someone’s work to friends or sharing on social media, that’s free marketing for them! Get out of the immediate gratification mindset and focus on purchasing less often so that when you do you can afford to support an artist instead of visiting a big box store. It is true that each time you buy from a creative they do a happy dance, supporting artists and creatives keeps the world a happier place.
We’d love to hear the story of how you built up your social media audience?
When I first started my Instagram page I really didn’t know much about photography or social media. The best piece of advice I got in the beginning was to edit my photos to keep them bright and eye catching so that my page looked more cohesive. Once I did that I started following a bunch or like minded artists who were doing what I wanted to be doing. I would support their pages with comments and likes and shares which made them want to engage with my page in return. Now I’m not saying you should go like every post of a thousand people in hopes that they will follow you back but polite and genuine interaction is good for everyone, it gives other people a boost and gets you seen at the same time. Lastly, I like getting my audience involved by asking opinions, taking polls, or just sharing a random story about myself. This gets people interested in your content and hopefully makes your art more meaningful.
Christina Childress Photo