Inside Artists - Issue 16

Page 46

46 ARTIST INTERVIEW Stephen Wilson

Stephen Wilson

Q

uestions around appropriation, conspicuous consumption and brand worship are explored by Stephen Wilson; his background in fashion and home design informing his sculptural, textile-led work, where heavily embroidered modular blocks combine into large-scale images. Part Pop-Art, part high-fashion editorial, themes of Americana, luxury and excess are playfully represented in a collage of iconic symbols, text and photography. The techniques and materials the artist selects for each artwork is an important part of his studio process, taking a special interest in the intersection of traditional craft and contemporary culture. From machine embroidery and painting to 3D printing and laser engraving, his mixed media assemblages take on many forms, although most often created from millions of stitches which take hundreds of hours to complete. Wilson is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, a former mill town and textiles hub. He is represented by major galleries across the US and has had several solo shows, as well as group exhibitions and art fairs internationally.

How did your background in fashion and home design evolve into your current artistic practice? I’ve always been in a creative setting but I wouldn’t say I set out to be an artist. My background as a freelance embroidery designer lended itself to the work. Being immersed in the embroidery world for over 20 years allowed me to master the knowledge of the traditional techniques. What’s your process for starting a new piece; do you have a research stage? Where do you draw inspiration from? Much of my inspiration comes from the very boxes that I use and the brands they exemplify — Gucci and Hermes are among the classics when it comes to designer boxes. They’re steadfast and have truly become iconic. When it comes

to process, the first stage includes sketching the design with a simple concept drawing. The information involved in the initial design is vital; it’s where I decide the compositional details. Then comes digitizing the design which is programmed to the embroidery machines software — each stitch gets hand-placed within the program. Thousands of stitches go into one single piece of work. There are several refining stages that I go through but each piece of art has its own story and intention. Your work is often a combination of traditional crafts combined with contemporary techniques, mediums and technology, is this blend of the old and new an important aspect of your practice? The combination of traditional crafts combined with contemporary techniques is certainly an


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