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An Interview with Fiber Artist Lynn Krawczyk

LynnKrawczkiWhen Lynn Krawczyk worked in the corporate world she found herself working so much, and so hard, that she never slowed down long enough to do anything outside of work. Then one day, while recovering from a back injury, she decided to fill her days with creating.

That was twelve years ago, and she’s been creating ever since.

Alyice: For those who don’t understand, what’s a fiber artist?

Lynn: The term “fiber artist” is a very broad idea.

It includes weavers, quilters, knitters, felters—anyone who incorporates some form of fiber in their work. It can be wool, fabric, yarn.

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Alyice: How does creating art with fiber differ from creating art with other materials?

Lynn: Fiber is unique in that it is easily manipulated into many different forms. It responds easily to all kinds of processes, including dyeing and painting. It is very versatile.

Alyice: Do you have a particular type of fiber you like to work with?

Lynn: The niche that I work in revolves around fabric as the primary medium.

I began making Victorian-style crazy quilts and progressed into art quilts. After working in art quilts for several years, I became interested in surface design after dyeing some of my own fabric. From there I learned screen printing, mono-printing and several other methods to create my own patterns on fabric.

Alyice: When shopping for fabric, what do you look for?

Lynn: I tend to buy solid fabrics since I print my own patterns. I like having a clean slate to work on. I do buy fabrics that already have prints on them but they are minimal so that I can continue to build off them.

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Alyice: What is the most challenging part about working with fiber?

Lynn: Since fabric is my medium, I don’t find it challenging to work with.

The part that I do find challenging is trying to convey that its art. Often when people hear that you work with fabric, they automatically assume that you are making queen size bed quilts. While that is an art form I truly respect, I am no where near that. So I carry pictures of my work around on my iPhone to show them what I do and if they’re interested, talk about the kind of work I do. It’s really quite a lot of fun to have those discussions!

Alyice: Do you prefer to hand stitch your pieces, or do you use a machine?

Lynn: I prefer hand stitching. I feel as if I have more of a connection with the piece when I hold it in my hands for the long hours it takes to complete it.

I really believe this personal mark shows in the work in a way that machine stitching can’t. However, I’ve begun using straight machine stitching as a way to add more layers to my surface design. Typically, though, it is not used to hold the work together but rather to add texture and then I print over the top of it.

Hand stitching is portable and less expensive then machine stitching so I appreciate that aspect of it as well. I almost always have something small in my purse to work on so when I have spare moments, I can put them to good use.

Alyice: What is your creative process like?

Lynn: I don’t do studies or assign myself a schedule for working. I’m a dweller. I tend to think a project to death before I begin.

I keep a sketchbook but its all black and white, I don’t add color to anything in there because I don’t want a preconceived notion of what the work should look like.

My work normally begins with a single idea such as using a particular surface design technique or a color. I work with intention, I make active choices about the direction of the work but its important to let it be organic and evolve during the process. Once I do begin working, I move quickly. It’s not unusual for me to spend two weeks considering a piece, then complete it in one day.

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Alyice: How has your style changed over the years?

Lynn: My work has moved into complete abstraction over the past five years.

I find myself wanting to create emotion with the work rather then a specific image. Its been a process that has really held my interest because it revolves around adding layers and layers of detail.

It’s fascinating to step back and watch how all the tiny bits come together and work as one. I am more connected to my artwork now than I ever have been and I feel like that really shows through in the work.

I plan to continue to with the collage work. It feels as if it has a hundred different paths to choose from and that’s exciting. I want to try combining other mediums into it and see if they play well together, its really quite thrilling to have a series that feels so open ended and willing to accept manipulation.

Alyice: Aside from creating fabric collage pieces, you also have a column in Quilting Arts Magazine. How has writing about your craft helped your business?

Lynn: I love writing as much as I love creating visual art. I think the two have really influenced each other.

Writing is about introspection, it really makes you examine how you feel about something and then you have to force it into words. Creating the collages is much the same way, an attempt to capture something intangible in physical form. They aren’t very different from each other and I’m really happy that I get to do both.

Learn more about Lynn Krawczki at www.fibraartysta.com.

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