The A-Frame pattern cover was created by my friend and excellent artist, Andrea Sherrill Evans. Andrea and I were at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at the same time - I was doing undergrad and she was in grad school. We had mutual friends and frequented many of the same art events, but really got to know each other while our now husbands were in the same grad program.
Aside from hanging out and eating awesome enchiladas and pies (Andrea is from the southwest and is an excellent cook and baker), Andrea and I both work together in the craftivist art collective New Craft Artists in Action.
Andrea and I have often talked clothing, sewing, and style. When A-Frame was in development, I knew she would be a perfect fit for the project.
I interviewed Andrea about her work, her process, and her personal style below:
T: Let's start with a little introduction to you and your work. What are you making, where is it going, and what do you do when you're not making art?
A: Right now, I am in the midst of research for a new project revolving around natural spaces in city and urban areas, specifically focused on Jamaica Pond in Boston's Emerald Necklace, a set of parks designed by landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted in the late 19th century. Much of my recent artwork has looked at the overlap between the human and the natural, often drawing from images and experiences from my travels. For this project, I am looking close to home: at just a 10 minute walk from my apartment, Jamaica Pond has been my unofficial backyard for the past 9 years, and seems to be just as interesting in its juxtaposition of the natural and manmade. I am researching the history of the pond and surrounding spaces, as well as spending a lot of time there watching, listening, walking, and drawing. I'm not yet sure of what form the project will ultimately take; right now I'm allowing myself to follow many different trajectories and stay open to possibilities.
When I'm not making art, I usually either teaching, cooking, baking, or eating, listening to my favorite podcasts, learning how to make something new, or hanging out with my sweet artist husband and noisy kitty.
T: What sorts of inspirations or concerns inspire or inform your work? What motivates you as an artist?
A: My surroundings largely inform my work, everything from my indoor garden that I try not to neglect and the small weeds pushing up between the cracks in the asphalt on my walk to my studio, to my travels throughout New England, the Southwest, and Nova Scotia. I am drawn to seemingly natural things and spaces, and yet aim to remain alert to the ways in which this sense of the natural is constructed, both literally and figuratively. As an artist, I am motivated by the desire and need to make something that is meaningful: to take ideas, time, effort, and materials, and transform them into something new.
T: What was it like to create a drawing for the pattern cover - a specific commission - and how did it differ from your usual creative process?
A: I have done a few commissions and illustration work in the past few years: an outdoor mural for the Brattle Bookshop in Boston, and illustrations for the New Craft Artists in Action book, Networks. I was excited about doing the drawing for the pattern cover, as it really touched on some of the ideas and imagery within my current and past work. It was fun to research A-frame houses, vintage pattern covers and clothing styles, and to play around with different compositions; the hard part was figuring out the style in which to make the drawing. I wanted to do something more graphic that still felt like my own hand. I frequently work from photographic references, and I had to make some pretty funky photoshopped images to work from that combined my poses with the sample images you sent me of the skirt. I actually made 3 different drawings (and a number of pretty awful in-between sketches), and was really only happy when I got to the third version. I am pretty detail-oriented and obsessive with my own work, and even though you gave me a lot of freedom with the design, I was still concerned with it being a good fit for your pattern.
T: What are your favorite things to draw and why?
A: Trees frequently appear in my work; I am drawn to their individual character and form, the intricacy of their bark and branches, as well the way they can become an instant signifier of the natural.
T: Many of your drawings include people interacting with unusual clothing items in different environments. What role does clothing play in your work?
A: In earlier pieces that explore human interactions and relationships, clothing is used to create a kind of second skin that can connect, separate, hide, and highlight bodies. Pattern plays a large role in these pieces, in order to both bring a focal point and create a larger context: for instance, the way a plaid flannel has an "outdoorsy" association in contemporary American culture.
T: You're also a knitter and have created whimsical knits for live and documented performances. What are your thoughts on knitting, or creating wearables in general, as a performance within as well as outside an art context?
A: I started knitting unusual garments as part of my art practice while in grad school. I had been working with items of clothing and using them against their normal use, such as two people attempting to wear the same shirt together. Knitting allowed me to create garments intended to be worn by two people at the same time, creating an equally ridiculous situation. The act of knitting also carries a level of craft and meticulousness that I employ in my drawings, so it was a natural fit within my practice. I think it is also incredibly empowering to transform a a long piece of yarn (or any material really) into something with a use and purpose. In my ideal world, I would make everything I wear.
T: How would you describe your personal style?
A: My personal style is a bit mishmash. I have minimalist intentions but a love for pattern and the occasional funky item. I wear jeans just about all the time. I generally lean toward low-maintenance and comfortable clothing that can go from the studio to the park and then out for a drink or art opening.
T: Do you feel there is a relationship between your aesthetic as an illustrator and your personal style in terms of clothing?
A: I feel more confident in my aesthetic as an illustrator. I'm still trying to nail down my personal style as an adult; that subtle balance of something that feels both artistic and professional. Within both my aesthetic as an artist and personal style, I am for the most part subtle, with small details that create an impact.
T: What is your favorite outfit right now and why?
A: I am transitioning from the semester of teaching outfits (black jeans, collared blouse, and short boots) to summer clothing. It is always a bit awkward. Right now, I am happiest wearing a simple black and white patterned sleeveless blouse I made (from Colette's free Sorbetto pattern), dark jeans or maybe even jean shorts, and a pair of leather huarache sandals my husband bought for me in LA a few years ago. But if I had a uniform, it would be a gingham collared blouse, black jeans, and boots.
T: What article of clothing represents you? (Be as literal or abstract as you like)
A: I'd say my pair of men's dark brown ankle boots I got at Bobby from Boston best represents me. They are likely the coolest thing I own and I will probably destroy them. They are tough, but subtle, and a little funky, with a rich history; they aren't a perfect fit but I love them all the same.
T: What other projects have you finished recently or have coming up? What potential future projects are you planning for/dreaming about (if any)?
A: I am in a bit of transition right now as I will be moving later this summer from Boston, my home of 9 years, to Baltimore. I am hoping to get as much research done towards my Jamaica Pond project while I am here, and that I will be ready to shift into the next stage of the work along with my move. But as my work is so influenced by my sense of place, I am really looking forward to exploring Baltimore, and I anticipate that it will play a pretty large role in my work to come.
If you would like to see more of Andrea's awesome work, check out her website!