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Meet the maker – Alicia Sivertsson

Published September 6, 2017, by Stina Axelson

Tell us about yourself, who are you and what do you do?

I am a creative multi maker active within most techniques and materials, and especially embroidery and painting. I’m impulsive, impatient, curious and tend to work at ten things at the same time. I make stuff, photograph, write and blog most of my free time and a bit too late into the night for my daily rests sake. During the week I work as an art educator and teach students between the ages of 6 and 22 years.

Photo by Alicia Sivertsson
Photo by Alicia Sivertsson

How would you describe yourself?

For some years now I’ve used the word multi maker to describe myself, but today I might even say “artist”. That word felt very distant from me until quite recently, partly because in Sweden women’s creative work is often diminished to “pyssel”, which translates as craft but is also used to describe the makings of very small children (but never adult men). I place great emphasis on the choice of words, especially in the conversation with children. To me it is important that those who create learn the right terms for different techniques, it is part of developing an understanding and respect for their own work. If you, as a woman, never get to grow out of the “pyssel phase” it is very hard to learn to value and prioritize your creative time.

I do both traditional “art” techniques and those which are classified as “handicrafts”. An issue to which I personally am very committed, is to blur the boundaries between the two and pay greater respect to historical female expressions (especially textiles).

Photo by Alicia Sivertsson
Photo by Alicia Sivertsson

How would you describe your style?

My style when I paint and draw is fairly realistic but drawn towards naivism. I like to enhance emotions in an image, both in terms of the mood of the subject and with shading and colouring.  My images often contain dark green, blood red, mustard yellow, rust, navy blue and warm earth tones with black matt shadows.

I interpret nature, animals and people with a particular preference for decay. My nerve is where humanity meets nature and in the perishability of this relationship. I love when nature over time recaptures places from us humans and I could devote a lifetime to interpret overgrown buildings, decayed statues and cracked facades.

Photo by Alicia Sivertsson
Photo by Alicia Sivertsson

What do you try to achieve with the work you create?

I create partly because I can’t go without it and it makes me feel good doing so, but also because I want to share my view of the world. I want to make room for reflection, make people stop and admire the beauty of everyday life around us.

I want to capture disappearing places for the afterworld and, at best, feed the viewer with new interests. I also want to emphasise on female expressions and to talk about the working hours, the craftsmanship and the aesthetics they require but rarely get recognition for.

“I want to spread the message that all people are creative and have both the need and the ability to express themselves artistically.”

That artistic skills require practice, just like playing the violin and various ball sports, and can also be significantly improved by those willing to invest time.

What other mediums did you work with before evolving to your current style?

I have tried most materials and techniques and am always curious to learn more. My experience is that knowledge within one medium often can be used in another.

Painting and embroidery are my prime means for expression but I experiment and have periods of knitting, crocheting, sewing, collaging, animating film, working with wood, writing poetry, printing, and more. My most recent love is book binding.

Photo by Alicia Sivertsson
Photo by Alicia Sivertsson

How do you get in the right ”creative mode” – what does your happy place look like?

I’m spoiled with almost always having a creative flow. It was a long time since I felt uninspired. I constantly find new ideas and motifs in my everyday life and get a lot of inspiration from the interaction with other creators – both students, colleagues and artistic friends.

A visit to a beautiful wild garden, a museum or a conversation with a friend always attracts new project ideas within me. At home, it’s important to have all the material readily available to start as soon as I feel an urge to.

What does your desk look like?

My desk is a constant mess of ongoing projects, important receipts and dirty coffee cups. I can clean it spotless but the next day it is a mess again. It seems impossible for me to keep the surface free. The only thing I don’t leave laying around is yarn, because it quickly get knicked by the cats.

If I would like to get going with my creativity and try embroidery, whats your advice?

Choose a needle that slides through the fabric effortlessly and a yarn that fits well in the needle. If the fabric gauge, the size of the needle and the thickness of the yarn interact, it is possible to embroider on anything with anything.

Photo by Alicia Sivertsson
Photo by Alicia Sivertsson

If I need to get out of a creative rut, whats your advice on how to get back on track?

Stay off Pinterest! I find that the internet can be totally overwhelming with its many projects and that my performance anxiety will shoot through the roof. It’s easy to get stuck for hours without it leading to you creating anything.

“My best trick if I’m uninspired is to go through my material. Often I am reminded of an idea I have not yet implemented, or the material itself will lead to new ideas.”

If I’m feeling anxious to get started, restraining myself to some boundaries will work. For example, try a new technique that you do not already master, where you are allowed to make something “wrong” or “ugly”, create around a theme, colour scheme, or begin by just messing up the white, clean surface.

Please share 3 sources of inspiration

Right now I’m very inspired by Beatrix Potter’s illustrations. I recently discovered the surrealist artist Kay Sage who makes my heart turn in a way that only surreal art can.

I also listen to Frida Hyvönen’s album “Kvinnor och barn” where she paints with words in a way that I wish to master a brush.

Photo by Alicia Sivertsson
Photo by Alicia Sivertsson

Do you have a motto that you live by?

Jamie Oliver once said that homemade food should look homemade and I think that goes for all things done by hand. Irregularities gives a soul to an object and tells the story about the work process in a way that perfection cannot.

A certain crookedness in the subject or a stain of colour from the artist’s hand adds dimension and tells a story of the person behind the piece. I´m not particularly interested in perfection that might as well have been created by a computer.

What do you have planned for the future?

I have a very loose idea of an illustrated children’s book. The story isn’t finished, but I have pieces of a storyline and images in my mind that wants to come out. I’m also looking forward to catch the nearest future in watercolour. I have made a hand bound sketching book with thick pages to bring with me. With that, my grandfather’s old watercolour box and a coffee thermos I long to make little painting hikes to the waters, the woods and my mother’s yellowing garden.

Make sure to check out more of Alicias work on her website  and on her instagram

Thank you Alicia for this interview, and good luck on all your future endeavours.

// Stina – Craft Space

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Stina Axelson

Stina Axelson

Always making and creating and fun to hang out with. She finds it hard to follow instructions and keeps a box of treasured papers.