Kristy Bishop, Fiber Artist, Charleston, SC
Kristy Bishop is a fiber artist who works primarily in weaving, natural dyeing, sewing, and costume inspired work. Her weaving uses patterns that are normally seen in utilitarian textiles like scarves or blankets. She combines these patterns with bright warm colors, and shiny metallic fringe and tassels, to celebrate women's work. The tassels remind her of cheer leading pom poms, which are meant to get people excited, motivated, and supportive.
Kristy's jewelry is made of cotton rope that she hand sews into a variety of designs. They are then dyed using a combination of plant and animal dyes. Kristy's favorite dyes are indigo, cochineal, osage orange, and madder root. With these four dye materials she can achieve almost any color. All of Kristy's earings and necklaces are nuanced and unique. With this collection, she wanted to create jewelry that was bright, colorful, unique, and light weight. They are for someone who wants to make a statement and stand out, while feeling comfortable at the same time.
Have you always wanted to be an artist? What inspired you to start creating? I sure have. When I was a kid I always got lots of art supplies. I would sit around my house drawing objects that were on shelves and I would trace or try to copy pictures from my books. Luckily in high school, I had an amazing art teacher that had high expectations. That was when I really decided I was going to pursue art as my career. Of course, that means working lots of different jobs over the years to fill in the gaps. Every year, little by little, I spend more of my time in the studio. I've also always had an aversion for the typical work schedule. It freaks me out to only get two weeks vacation. So I chose a creative path that has very little stability, but gives me the freedom to travel and make art.
Where do you find inspiration? Most of my inspiration comes from visiting art museums and going down deep holes on Instagram. Sometimes it does come from doing research and experimenting when prepping for a workshop. This has led to lots of new ideas that bleed into every aspect of my studio practice.
How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?
I'm not really sure. I feel like I'm always trying to find it.
Where do you create your artwork? I have a home studio. It's a long addition on my house that is divided into two rooms. The large laundry room is my dye studio and the front room is my weaving and jewelry making space.
What is your typical day like? Everyday is different depending on if I'm teaching a class or working in the studio. I usually get up around seven or eight and make coffee/tea. After breakfast, I'll sit down to do computer admin work for about an hour or so. Then I move on to working in the studio. This could range from prepping for a workshop (washing fabric, mordanting, making dyes), dyeing yarn and fabric, weaving, or making jewelry. Usually whichever one I'm spending time doing is the one with a more pressing deadline. At some point in the afternoon I always take a break and take my dog for an hour long walk in my neighborhood. In the evening, I might keep working if I'm in a groove. If that groove is not happening, then I'll work on dinner and have a glass of wine. This time of year is so pleasant in Charleston so I do like to grab a happy hour drink with my husband.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people? Spend time documenting your work and take good photography. Definitely invest in a decent camera and tripod. That is the gateway to opportunities. If you have strong work and your images are representative of your work, chances are you will get that show, residency, or sale at some point. It takes persistence and good lighting.
How do you build community as an artist? How has the creative community helped you grow and share your art? In the past I've developed artist programs and curated shows in Charleston. That was very rewarding but I did get burned out. Now I try to share opportunities that I see with artists that I know would benefit from them. I think always sharing with each other can be so helpful. Its overwhelming to always be searching the internet for calls and opportunities so when someone drops one in your lap and can feel like a godsend. I also think that staying in touch with your advocates in important. It can be easy to slip and loose connections. The people that have supported your work in the past are going to be very important for your future. There are a few people specifically in my career that have pushed my work to people and I've been given amazing opportunities through that.
What artists inspire you? Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or social media accounts that you’d like to share? Tanya Aguiniga, Yinka Shonabare, Tara Donovan, Attukwei Clottey, Camela Guevara, and Sonya Clark.
What are you most excited about right now? I am very excited about my upcoming summer residency at the Gibbes Museum of Art. It's a five week residency where I will bring my loom and weave work inspired by their 18th and 19th century galleries.
All images provided by Kristy Bishop.