Abigail Brown interview: Nature, colour & form
Abigail Brown’s work as a textile artist and designer focuses around animals, which have been a constant source of fascination and inspiration. Abigail has become well-known for creating contemporary fabric art in the shape of birds and creatures. Each one is hand-made, lovingly crafted and unique; although pieces may be replicated, no two will be the same. It is this attention to detail that attracted us to Abigail’s work. Her creations are intricate, vibrant and full of charm.
Having studied a BA in Surface Decoration and Printed Textiles, Abigail has worked as a designer and illustrator of children’s books, children’s wear, stationery, and greeting cards, and produced work for the advertising industry. Her contemporary textile art has received coverage in publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, Selvedge, Vogue and Elle Decoration, and has been sold in Liberty (London), Takashimaya (New York), Paul Smith (London and Paris) and Bensimon (Paris).
We’re grateful that Abigail has taken time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for TextileArtist.org.
Following my dreams
TextileArtist.org: Why are you an artist?
Abigail Brown: I took to art straight away as a child, always drawing, or cutting and sticking, or sewing things quite badly in fabric!
Growing up through school it was really the only subject I felt a connection with, the one I enjoyed the most and looked forward to all week. As I neared the end of school it was clear there was no path for me other than art. I hadn’t enjoyed any other subject as much and life without it didn’t feel like an option I could go with.
I trained as a designer really but hadn’t feel satisfied enough with that and so following my degree I started to make things and approach galleries with them and it all built from there. I still couldn’t be anything but what I am.
Did your family nurture your creativity?
My mum always felt it was important to follow your dreams and never regret what you could have done. She didn’t feel the nervousness that my dad felt about me embarking upon a career in the art world. They always told me I was good, encouraged me and did what they could to help me along the way, but as they are not creative themselves there was a limit to what they could do.
My grandma can be thanked for my interest in fabric; as a seamstress it filled her house and was very natural to me from a very early age. Sadly she is no longer around to see what I am doing now and enjoy seeing the love of fabric that she passed on to me.
What inspires you?
Everything! I love illustration and character creation and collect beautifully illustrated children’s books. They don’t inspire the birds so much but when it comes to the creatures I create it’s the worlds in those books I look to first.
Nature and colour and form are what excite me in my work as a whole, and there’s an endless amount of it out there to keep me inspired forever.
Do you ever suffer from Artists’ block?
Of course, I think that happens in all fields. Taking a break for the day to seek out something inspiring, or a walk in the park… a bit of space to relax and find your path again is usually all it takes.
Do you use a sketchbook when creating contemporary fabric art?
I do but not regularly. Generally now I only use it when I’m specifically working on something new. I’ve got out of the habit of carrying one round and drawing in it constantly. Sad really but I struggle for the time.
Do you work in silence or with music?
What are your other interests besides modern fabric art?
I love reading, especially books by authors with unusual styles. I am just getting into running and enjoy starting my working day with a visit to the park. Film, music, theatre, dance… I’m generally interested in most things.
What is the best decision you have ever made?
The decision to travel round the world with my friend Polly for 7 months after university. That trip gave me such tremendous confidence about what I could do for myself and it opened my eyes to so many wonderful things out there. Coming back to Leeds after that trip I suddenly felt I didn’t have enough in my life and made the decision to move to London. A few years later I decided to quit my job and make my own living as an artist… but I couldn’t have been that person without the world trip I don’t think.
Make textile art for yourself
What is your favourite place to get away from it all?
On my doorstep it’s Victoria Park, but further afield would just be anywhere where the sights and sounds would switch me off my thoughts and worries.
What advice would you give to an aspiring textile artist?
There is so much copying that goes on and it’s so sad when we can all have such different responses to what is around us. I think being true to yourself is the most important thing. Making work for yourself that is full of your passion and experience, that’s what people want to see.
To find out more about Abigail and the contemporary fabric art she creates visit http://www.abigail-brown.co.uk
Why not let us know what you think about Abigail’s exquisite work by leaving a comment below.