Maricor/Maricar: Go Play
Sydey based design duo Maricor/Maricar are sisters Maricor and Maricar Manalo. They describe themselves as ‘makers of things’ combining typography, illustration and intricate hand embroidery to create their playful work.
Since establishing their design studio in 2010 they have worked with clients including Wired Magazine UK, Esquire Magazine UK, ESPN Magazine, British Council Australia, Hong Kong Airport, TOMS Shoes and GOOD Magazine.
In our interview with Maricor/Maricar we talk about their unconventional route into embroidery through graphic design and why they think of their style as ‘painting with stitches’.
Surface and texture
TextileArtist.org: What initially captured your imagination about textile art?
Maricor/Maricar: The playfulness we could bring to embroidery was the initial reason we started. Since then it’s the colour and tactility that has really inspired us, playing with surface and texture.
What or who were your early influences and how has your life/upbringing influenced your work?
Our first introduction to embroidery as art or illustration came through a book called Illustration Play. Amongst the artists featured was Megan Whitmarsh and her embroidered characters. It was exciting to see a contemporary and graphic approach to embroidery.
As children my sister and I were good at making our own toys. We didn’t have a dollhouse so we made our own dioramas out of cardboard boxes and cut out pot plants from magazines. That sort of resourcefulness using what’s around has been a constant in our work.
What was your route to becoming an artist? (Formal training or another pathway?)
We graduated together from a Design (Visual Communications) degree at the University of Technology Sydney where we studied graphic design, animation and bit of photography and illustration. Our path to becoming embroidery illustrators was quite unintentional. Our boss at the time suggested making an animated music video out of embroidered graphics. We thought that would be a fun project so took it on and learnt how to embroider while we were designing the characters. Our training was in the form of a Readers Digest book of embroidery stitches and youtube videos.
What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?
We do an improvised form of crewel embroidery, we like to think of our style as painting with stitches. We normally embroider onto quilters cotton but have begun to experiment with embroidery onto paper.
Most of our work is for commercial clients in advertising and publishing so we aren’t comfortable describing ourselves as textile artists. More so because of our graphic design background.
Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?
We don’t have a dedicated work space but work from my house in our large open plan living space. We take up a huge table that houses our threads, computer station, tools and sewing paraphernalia.
Signature patterned style
Do you use a sketchbook?
I’m a bit all over the place with my sketches and ideas and tend to write or draw them down on loose paper I have lying around. At the moment I have 3 half filled sketchbooks with a lot of bits and bobs tucked in until I sort them out.
What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?
At the moment I seem to be looking at a lot of ceramic artists, I’m drawn to the painterly glaze work of artists like Jennie Jieun Lee and William Edmonds. I like how there is an intersection of different modes of art in their work. William Edmonds also has a design background and it’s interesting to see how he translates his graphics into ceramics.
Tell us about a piece of work you have fond memories of and why?
Our first commercially commissioned embroidery ‘Go Play’ is still one of my favourite pieces. It was for ESPN magazine and we’re really grateful that the art director their saw potential for embroidery to be used for a magazine that would be the farthest from your mind when you think of embroidery. We were commissioned to illustrate the words Go Play and in our signature patterned style. It captures the sort of joyful energy and whimsy that we like to communicate in our work.
How has your work developed since you began and how do you see it evolving in the future?
When we first began embroidery our subject matter tended to be lettering because of our design background. Lately we’ve started to be a bit more abstract and really experiment with the form of embroidery. As opposed to applying the thread onto fabric we’re excited by the idea how the embroidery can be worked into the fabric, we’re looking at using different unexpected materials as well, so loosely woven fabric, paper even plants.
What advice would you give to an aspiring textile artist?
Our career path has been pretty unconventional so my advice would be that you don’t have to be traditionally trained. There’s a lot of different avenues for showcasing your work and its ok to be a ‘/’ something. Having a different training has fed into our textile work and it’s been great to have different sources of inspiration.
Can you recommend 3 or 4 books for textile artists?
Sorry not much help here, we have some dry manuals for learning embroidery and Goldwork techniques but in terms of sources of inspiration we mostly look at online resources.
What other resources do you use? Blogs, websites, magazines etc.
What piece of equipment or tool could you not live without?
We would be lost without out floor stands. It’s probably saved our backs, shoulders and hands and allowed us to work twice as fast.
For more information please visit: www.maricormaricar.com
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