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TALKING TO ARTIST… MEGHAN WILLIS By Grith Stagaard Gough, Erotic Art Lover, 01 December, 2012.

EroticArtLover: How long have you been making art? Meghan Willis: Oh man, forever in some form or fashion. I come from an artistic family; my brother and I would spend our summers drawing or at various art camps. I don’t always consider my various projects as “art”, but I always try and make sure I’m working on something that gets my creative juices going so that I don’t get bored. I’ve been playing with my current mixed media art for the last year. EroticArtLover: Have you been to art school or are you selftaught?

Meghan Willis © Aaron Tsuru.

Meghan Willis: Half and half; I went to school for fashion design, so parts of my knowledge are from school, but the rest is a mash up from trial and error, and the internet.

EroticArtLover: Where is your studio? Meghan Willis: My studio is just my house. In my old house, I had a spare room with my sewing machines and supplies, but I just moved to Brooklyn, and so now my machines & supplies are just in my living room. We’re still in the process of unpacking, and hanging art work.

“Self Portrait” © Meghan Willis.

EroticArtLover: How would you describe what you do? Meghan Willis: I guess I’d say a “textile artist” or “mixed media artist”. EroticArtLover: Do you see your work as art or craft? Meghan Willis: A little bit of both. Before embarking on my latest work, I spent 4 years as a crafter; making leather accessories. When you think about the media I use, embroidery and appliqués, they’re definitely traditional craft mediums. Maybe I’m crafting art? There are definitely connotations to both terms that taken various ways can really be interchangeable. EroticArtLover: Preferred medium? Meghan Willis: Fabric, leather, thread, and paint (acrylic and watercolours).

EroticArtLover: What made you start working with textiles and what makes textiles special to you? Meghan Willis: I first learned how to sew when I was 6 years old and I just never stopped working with textiles from there. I ended up going to school for fashion design, and even now have a day job in the apparel industry. I love the idea of taking something that’s two dimensional and figuring out how to make it fit the body. With my art, now I’m taking that same 2D medium and painting it to look 3D, and embroidering the body to try and look like it has movement. It all seems like an extension of one another. I love playing with textures, and the tactile quality that my art ends up having. EroticArtLover: What tools do you use in your work process? Meghan Willis: Hand needles, scissors, rubber cement, regular

“State of Undress No. 6” © Meghan Willis

thread, embroidery floss, my sewing machine, and sometimes my serger. EroticArtLover: Where do you find inspiration for your work? Meghan Willis: All over! Number one source is probably my husband’s (Aaron Tsuru) photography ( I also love to search tumblr for images that spark something. Museums, books, friends, etc. EroticArtLover: How do you prepare a piece? Do you use a sketchbook? Meghan Willis: A couple different ways. Sometimes I’ll take one of Aaron’s photos directly and use that as a template. Or I’ll put together a collage of images that I find inspiring (for poses, colors, etc.) and then either have him shoot something specific for me, or I’ll shoot something specific. I don’t have a conventional sketch book anymore.

“Self Portrait No. 2” © Meghan Willis

“Kitsune” © Meghan Willis

“Just Forget Me” © Meghan Willis

“Year of the Bush” © Meghan Willis

“Cheeks as Sweet as Cherries” © Meghan Willis

“Lass Triptych” © Meghan Willis (embroidery), Michael Newton (watercolour), Aaron Tsuru (Photograph).

CREATING AN EMBROIDERY: Step 1: Convince a friend to pose for photos in various stages of undress. In this case the lovely & talented Cherry La Voix was up for the challenge! Step 2: I then print out the photo, and cut it out, to use as a template. Step 3: Using said template, trace it onto the leather, and cut it out. Step 4: I use rubber cement to glue the leather to the linen, and then machine stitch down the leather. I also use a fabric pen to trace where I want to stitch. Some times I do the hand stitching first, other times the leather, just depends on the leather to stitching ratio. Step 5: Hand stitching! For this piece I used 2-strands. You’ll also notice that I changed the angle of Cherry’s head. I tried the piece as per the photo, but due to perspective issues it wasn’t looking so good, so I went for a profile shot. Step 6: Paint it! I use acrylic paints. I then use a fabric pen to create detail line work. Then I add it to my shop!!

“Cherry Lounging on a Settee” © Meghan Willis


EroticArtLover: Embroidery is a very traditional type of craft. What is the most common reaction you see when people are faced with the sexy motifs of on your embroidery? Meghan Willis: The reactions have been really positive. One thing I find amusing about my embroideries, is that I’m taking images that as photos would be NSFW, and not allowed to post to Facebook, turning them into embroideries which are then perfectly acceptable to post. I have friends who are really conservative who find my work beautiful. There are those that are offended by my work, but I define my work as more sensual than anything else. I’m not making it to shock people. If people think nudity in and of itself is shocking then that’s their own issues and prejudices that they’re labeling my work with. Other reactions are just how lovely things look in person versus online, which is nice to hear; and in person, there’s that need to touch the work – which is perfectly acceptable!

“Kate” © Meghan Willis

EroticArtLover: You seem to only show women in your embroidery. Is it harder to embroider images of men or are sexy images of men uninteresting? Meghan Willis: Haha! Part of the reason is that my husband photographs mostly women. I find women very beautiful and love being able to capture and share that with my work; celebrating women’s bodies. I do have some ideas for some men themed embroideries that I need to get working on! “Oral fixation: Firecracker” © Meghan Willis

“Josephine Baker” © Meghan Willis

EroticArtLover: Have you made any embroidery of couples? Meghan Willis: Not yet, but that’s definitely something else that I have some ideas on. EroticArtLover: Is it okay for an artist to create works that she/he knows will sell well instead of creating more challenging and difficult works?

EroticArtLover: Favourite type of music?

12 hours.

Meghan Willis: Indie pop and old school soul.

EroticArtLover: What’s your most challenging work to date and why?

EroticArtLover: How long does it take to make a work of art from start to finish?

Meghan Willis: I think anytime I’m trying something new, trying to push my boundaries, it’s always a challenge. “Perspective No. 1” was probably the first one

Meghan Willis: This can vary by piece, anywhere from 2 hours to

Meghan Willis: I think there needs to be a balance. I rely on my day job to pay my bills, so that allows me to create work that’s satisfying for me. But I’ve also run a business that started off as a creative outlet that turned into pure business. In a perfect world, people would create work that makes them happy that people respond to. EroticArtLover: What’s your favourite colour? Meghan Willis: Pink! EroticArtLover: What is the last book you read? Meghan Willis: “The Study Series” by Maria V. Snyder. EroticArtLover: Do you work with music or in silence? Meghan Willis: Either music, or Netflix in the background. Today it’s the Mamas and Papas channel on Pandora.

“Peek-A-Boo” © Meghan Willis

where I felt like, is this going to be worth it in the end? I worry that I’m going to waste my time working on something that I won’t love, forgetting that sometimes that’s part of the process.

EroticArtLover: What do you prefer; Textiles: Silk or cotton? Buttons: Wood or plastic?

EroticArtLover: How do you relax?

EroticArtLover: Where would you most like to see your embroidery displayed?

Meghan Willis: Conveniently enough, I find embroidering really relaxing. Also, reading, hanging with my love, going for walks, scrolling on the interwebs, haha!

Meghan Willis: Cotton, I’m a casual girl at heart. Wood.

Meghan Willis: I’d feel honored to have it displayed anywhere. I’ve been really touched to see friends hanging my work in their homes.

EroticArtLover: Which past artist(s) do you admire?

EroticArtLover: Where would you like your next holiday to be?

Meghan Willis: Degas, van Gogh, Klimt, Alexander McQueen, Frida, Gil Elvgren.

Meghan Willis: Japan, hiking parts of Mount Fuji.

“Bend” © Meghan Willis

EroticArtLover: What is you next embroidery project? Meghan Willis: I plan on playing more with incorporating water colors onto the linen on my work. I also have some ideas of printing photos on fabric, and then embroidering on top of those. I’ve also thought about creating a piece incorporating an “I <3 NY” shirt, to auction off for charity. EroticArtLover: Can people commission you to do a piece of embroidery? Meghan Willis: Absolutely! EroticArtLover: Where can people buy your work?

Meghan Willis:

EroticArtLover: Thank you for your time in answering my questions. I look forward to seeing your new work in 2013.

“State of Undress No. 5” © Meghan Willis

Article: Talking to artist Meghan Willis