Who said that cross-stitching was old-fashioned? To some people, cross-stitching may refer to your grandma’s favourite hobby or the ancestor of the pixel, but let’s eschew these outdated notions. It is time to introduce you to the fascinating art (and I weigh my words) of Evelin Kasikov, who takes great delight in exploring the boundary between craft and print by incorporating stitching into printed works.
Born and raised in Tallin, Estonia, Evelin Kasikov graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts where she focused on printmaking and graphic art. But, after spending a decade working in advertising, she decided to move to London to enrol in MA Communication Design course at Central St Martins College of Art, from which she graduated in 2008.
As part of her MA project, Kasikov developed “CMYK embroidery”, a method of her own that consists in creating printed images with a needle and cotton thread. This concept is a handmade printing technique that highlights Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and black (=Key) stitches to mimic the patterns of offset printing.
Here is Evelin Kasikov’s first CYMK embroidery, have a look! (I wish my first attempts would look that nice!)
Front and back side. Photos by Sarah Roesink
Even though this work has been entirely handmade, it is extremely complex and rational. Taking a closer look, it seems that everything has been meticulously well-calculated to fit in its right place: even the colour varies depending on the number of strands. God, I don’t want to know how long it must have taken her to achieve this result!
Her approach is analytical, making use of every skill and knowledge that Kasikov has learnt and developed so far – typography, grid systems, offset printing and design techniques – to invent a system of her own that is very similar to offset printing but using embroidery!
If this “CYMK embroidery” was, at first, developed as part of an academic project at Central St Martins College of Art, most of Evelin Kasikov’s works are ostensibly based on it. Here are some examples to feast your eyes upon:
One of the pieces from series
The Process of Print
Evelin Kasikov is also working on many other very interesting projects in a variety of fields.
For instance, she has recently created this series of stitched illustrations on the theme of Spring/Summer 2014 fashion trends for the ELLE magazine Singapore. As you can see below, everything inspires and nothing scares her. Reproducing and stitching the patterns of the most popular fashion designers seems easy as a pie for her. The importance the graphic designer gives to the threads sheds light on the textile beyond the clothes, just like to remind us that fashion is above all a strain of art.
However, I first came across Kasikov’s pieces on an article dedicated to her Portrait Project which consists in a set of 12 stitched portraits. All based on the same grid, these images are created using different methods and thread thicknesses, allowing Kasikov to invent a cross-stitching technique that resembles her. Indeed, while the regular cross-stitching method means stitching in X shapes in order to form a picture, the artist uses all kinds of geometric forms such as stars, squares and diagonals lines of all sizes and colours to reproduce her friends’ portraits in addition to this traditional style.
Finally, I strongly urge you to consult Printed Matter, which is Kasikov’s MA final project at Central St Martins that mixes craft and graphic design, and her Analogue/Digital project, which is a tactile representation of our modes of representation. Still based on her CMYK cross-stitch technique, both projects bring together craft and modern technology and they are truly brilliant!
Evelin Kasikov is a hugely productive artist, feel free to visit her website!
All pictures © Evelin Kasikov 2006–2014.
/ INTERVIEW /
What is your first memory of stitching? How old were you?
My grandmother had a piece of my childhood stitching. It’s a small napkin with pre-printed pattern, probably one of those children’s embroidery kits. I don’t remember doing this but looking at wonky lines I must have been very young.
Do you ever think about how your life would have panned out if you hadn’t come to study and live in London?
I returned to study after having already worked in the industry for almost ten years. If I had not been accepted at Saint Martins I would have just continued on my art director job I guess.
What, do you think, are the skills you absolutely need to be able to realise such projects? Have you always been very patient or is it something you have had to learn?
Patience, definitely. Of course, embroidery doesn’t have to be accurate like mine is. But it would still take a lot of time to make. Personally I never had to learn any techniques. I come from Estonia where craft and making skills have a strong tradition. I think these skills are just part of my identity.
Can you give us an idea of how long you spend on a project?
It really depends on what it is. I recently stitched simple lettering on my print boxes, about 20 mins each. And at the same time I’m working on a long term personal project, kind of a stitched swatchbook. I started in 2011, so it’s in its third year.
Which of your projects are your most proud of?
My MA project Printed Matter, with this project the idea of graphic stitching started, back in 2006. I’m proud of it’s concept, originality and the scope of the project (I actually hand stitched books and posters). Although I had seen people doing stitched illustrations, it wasn’t such a mainstream back then, and no-one seemed to work with embroidery in such a graphic, analytical and ‘swiss-style’ manner.
What are you working on at the moment?
Many things: I work as a books designer and there are about five books in the works right now. On stitching side of things, I’m working on an experimental stitched book which documents colour swatches in CMYK embroidery. So it’s like tactile Pantone guide in a way. With over 500 swatch combinations it’s more like an exercise in maths than craft. In my commercial work book design and stitched illustrations are separate, but this project brings the two together.
You have already worked for big companies and well-known brands (The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, Wired Magazine UK just to name a few…), is there someone for whom you would love to work ?
There are so many things I would love to do: stitch an actual billboard, collaborate on a fashion collection, see my embroidery move in an animations…and I would really like to design a stitched cover for Eyemagazine! But, considering how shy I am at contacting people and reaching out for new work, none of the above might as well never happen.
Would you describe yourself as an “anti-screen” person? Is there any particular rejection of screens in general in your work or is it just that you are fond of craft?
No not at all, I work as a book designer. My computer is my main tool and weird as it may sound, I love InDesign. I’m not a crafty person at all, I don’t do DIY and I prefer to get my clothes from a shop, the simpler the better. Embroidery interests me in connection with graphic design, most exciting area being tactile typography.
Can we see your pieces somewhere?
At the moment, only on my website. Or if you are London based, feel free to contact me for a coffee and chat in Greenwich – I’m always happy to show the actual stitched works.
Thanks a lot for your time Evelin, and all the best with your embroidery projects!