Vancouver-based artist Sean Alistair is self-taught and in constant pursuit of elevating his craft. He specializes in embroidery artwork or ornamentation – a skill first picked up in a high school textiles course. Now, the 28-year-old is always with a needle in hand, thoughtfully weaving each embellishment to tell a story:
7 How did you pursue art as a self-taught artist?
I started by creating art every day after work and on the weekends. I revisited older pieces I had created by doing a series inspired by them. It was with this constant work that I found a style and a medium that inspired me the most. I then created a website to showcase my work and dedicated my Instagram to my artistic voice. Through these little actions my friends and coworkers found out about my passion and started to invite me to gallery openings and art shows. With these experiences I started to network and meet new people in the art community. I soon realized how many people I knew that were artists and were always willing to lend me words of encouragement and sound advice.
6 What is embroidery art and what got you interested in it?
Embroidery art is the use of threads or yarns sewn into fabric or paper to create an image. I learned how to embroider in a textiles course I took in high school and instantly fell in love with it. However it wasn’t until recently that I picked it up again and started to explore this medium. I love embroidery because it adds a tactile interest to my abstract pieces that I can’t get otherwise. There is something so romantic how the humble thread can create so much power and movement through the use of simple stitches.
5 What other styles of art do you practice?
Besides multimedia and embroidery, I actually originally wanted to be a fashion photographer. I spent the first many years after high school only taking photos and setting up elaborate shoots.
4 Does your work fit into a genre or theme?
I like to combine an abstract approach with couture techniques to my pieces. I often imagine how my stitches or paint splatters would appear on a gown. I am constantly looking towards fashion houses like Chanel, Dior or Elie Saab for inspiration. I’m not entirely sure if my art fits into a genre, because I consider them to be a contained moment, almost like a cropped in detail of a garment.
3 What goes into your creative process for design?
Usually halfway through my current piece I have a lighting strike of inspiration, that I then sit on and scribble down in my notebook that I carry everywhere with me. Sometimes I am inspired by a texture, or pattern, or even an emotion. Once I have a faint idea of what I want my piece to look like I then think of the colour that most moves me in the moment. Other than that I leave my pieces up to chance and pure intuition. I am constantly hanging my pieces up on a wall, standing back and assessing. Sometimes they turn out exactly how I imagined them to look, and sometimes they are completely different.
2 What does art mean to you?
Art is the only way I am able to articulate my thoughts, ideas and fears. For me it is like breathing or running. It is something that I have to do everyday in order to survive.
1 Advice for aspiring self-taught artists?
The best advice I have is to never give up and practice everyday. Make art because you love it and remember that not everyone is going to understand or appreciate it. However if you open yourself up and share your voice you will inspire someone out there. And the reward is not in the commissions but the messages from strangers saying how much they love what you do. I think if we spent more time trying to inspire others, the world would be a more beautiful and peaceful place.