Artist of the Week: Britt Hutchinson
This segment is when we let you in on an artist that really floats our boat, so we thought it was about time we introduced you to our latest obsession, Chicago based embroidering powerhouse Britt Hutchinson. We caught up with the Hutch to chat lazy Sunday's and being your own boss.
For those who don't know, tell us a little about who you are and the work you produce?
Well, my name is Britt, but my friends all call me Hutch. I'm a 29 year old, INFJ from Cleveland, Ohio, and I make some version of I guess what would be referred to as contemporary embroidery work.
Your pieces are all beautifully unique one-of-a -kind creations. When did you discover embroidery was your calling?
Hey, thanks! That's very kind. I figured it was what I was supposed to be doing when I realized that it was all I ever wanted to do. It gave me something to do, something to love, and something to work for; it made me happy and gave me purpose. I was a human trying to figure out how not to be a cog before embroidery came along.
We hear you're a self taught embroiderer, how did you make the leap and forge your hobby into a career?
True, although it was just a coping mechanism at first. I putzed in needlework just like I had a dozen mediums prior to that. Eventually I came to this critical point where I felt like I was living my life based on this vague societally accepted pattern, and I just couldn't seem to get comfortable with that... It was like wearing someone else's clothes. I was living in Chicago and surrounded by so many people who harbored this "yolo" mentality, but never seemed to bother to cough up any real introspective time to sort out how they could actually obtain a truly fulfilling existence. And even if they did, many of them lacked the fortitude to jump when the void came calling. It just sort of felt like everyone was like "You only live once (Saturday through Sunday!)" and the rest of the time you just have to convince yourself you're happy, and accept that as life because this is the modern world, you need a degree and a 'real' job, and 'money money money.' I don't mean to express any judgement by saying any of this either, as I am fully guilty in participating in that realm of existence for a time. Being broke scares people, it scares me too... I just didn't want to live my life like that. It may be cool for those folks, but it wasn't for me. I never really had much, and therefore I decided that I didn't really need much. I accepted that a happy life on the poverty line was way better than a half hearted existence above it, so I said "fuck it" and quit the rat race… been happily truckin along since.
How did you develop your unique embroidery style?
Addiction to tedium? I like puzzles, and trying to figure out how to translate a feeling in my gut, to an image in my head, to a composition on canvas. Manipulating the shapes of different stitches really just kind of gets me off creatively.
Each piece you create is so intricate and precise; you must have the patience of a saint?
For some things, sure. However that all took (and still takes) a hell of a lot of practice. I worked with small children for a long time and that certainly helped. Being impatient just sort of seems counterproductive, so I really try to implement a pretty rigid practice of patience in all things… save for waiting for food when I've gone too long between meals. I just hulk out with hangriness, there's no controlling it.
Most of your works feature eerily beautiful skeletons. Where do you find inspiration for your work?
My work is predominately based upon my emotional response to basically everything, and driven by a general need for consistent catharsis due in part by my rampant romanticism. Wow, that's wordy. True none the less. Anyway, my relationship with my partner is also an incredible force of inspiration for me… as well as literature, my personal studies of the Great War, my current addiction to Debussy, whatever. Basically, I'm just the type of person who feels a lot, and I have to channel that somehow. The gravitation toward skeletons came about when I saw a spine in a line of french knots when learning them. I just kept developing that technique because they're non-exclusionary. My work is based on human emotion, and all people regardless of age/sex/race/whatever are just bones at the core of them. Anyone has the opportunity to project their own emotions onto my imagery, and possibly find their own catharis in seeing what they feel projected back at them. It's like when you hear a song that "gets you," and you feel less alone in however you feel. I find a great deal of comfort and solidarity in those connections.
What inspired you to create tiny designs rather than larger pieces?
The idea of intricacy inside of a small space just excites me.
On your website, you state 'please don't bite my designs'. Do you find forgery a big challenge when putting your own work out there?
Oh, absolutely. I think that is an issue for anyone who chooses to share their work online. I could go into an absolutely irate rant about the internet's vastness and delivery of instant gratification imbuing the masses with a false sense of entitlement, but I've got work to do. Suffice it to say that with this type of work (which is predominately based around designs made from patterns) people do seem to ignorantly assume that they can just "borrow" someone else's designs. I really do hate thinking about this sort of thing, it makes my cheeks hot. I just wish folks would try to respect and understand things a little better. If anyone reading this has any desire for me to dig deeper on the subject, please just e-mail me directly.
What does your perfect lazy Sunday consist of?
My dog not kicking me out of bed, thunderstorms, edibles, a great deal of kissing, and my boyfriend bringing me my coffee.
What can we look forward to next? Any exciting projects on the horizon?
I've got something in the works with Canadian artist Kelli Kikcio involving some quite sexy garments. That's about all I'll let slip for now, but if you follow either of us on Instagram you'll be privy to the slow roll out we will have on that project over the next year or so.