Featured Artist - December - Erica Mansfield from Gypstitch Embroidery
Have you ever seen my custom made Aries Moon/ Voodoo Child// Kozmic Ryder jacket? The creatrix behind this jacket is Erica from Gypstitch Embroidery. I came across her Instagram one day and gasped at her beautiful upcylced and chainstitch jackets and patches, so I had to have her help creating my dream jacket! I’m very glad I did - Check out this mama’s magic and process!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hey! I’m Erica from New Jersey. Fashion and art have always been a huge part of my life – I have always felt most like myself while creating something. I have always wanted to own my own business. I first fell in love with the swimwear industry, where I interned for Mara Hoffman and learned the in’s and out’s of the business – from production to sales to design. My vision was to create my own bikini line, and I spent my spare time creating patterns and designing different styles. I ended up working for various swimwear companies over the years, where eventually I was getting burnt out from sitting in front of a computer for 40 hours a week.
After a very transformation period in my life back in 2014, I fell out of love with swimwear and started to experiment with different types of textile work. No medium ever clicked with me to where I felt 100% fulfilled. I was very drawn to macramé and started designing my own patterns for macramé wall hangings. After watching a few embroidery tutorials online, I decided to take a few pairs of vintage shorts that I had lying around and I drafted some embroidered designs for them. It was the first time I ever felt really connected with a medium, unlike anything I had ever felt before. I started posting my work on my personal Instagram account, and I was selling everything. I knew I had something going, and after months of hand embroidering elaborate jackets and shorts, I knew I had to invest in a machine to speed up the process. I started looking at computerized embroidery machines and I hated that it lacked a personal touch. I ended up coming across chainstitch embroidery, a specific type of embroidery stitch created by a machine called the Singer 114w103. These machines were made in the 1930’s and are manually hand cranked – think of it as painting with thread. I purchased it off eBay and Gypstitch Embroidery was born.
What inspires your work and creative process // What moves you the most? // What does creating do for you?
A lot of my work is inspired by nature, pop culture and spirituality/occult imagery. Until I quit my corporate job and started to solely focus on embroidery as a full time gig, I have gotten to know myself more when going through my creative process. I journal and I meditate on a daily basis, and a lot of my ideas come through when I’m in that headspace.
Creating keeps me sane. I know it sounds cliché, but I knew that embroidery was my calling when I had to do it daily in order to function. Everyone needs a day off, but it’s not just my work, it’s something that I enjoy doing as a hobby as well. What moves me the most is creating things that other people can enjoy, while educating those on embroidery techniques that they may not be aware of other wise. I pride myself on not mass producing or wholesaling my products and I’m always trying to stay as eco-conscious as I possibly can. A lot of chainstitcher’s do on site stitching at events and I actually did my first one this past weekend. It was so exhilarating to stitch in front of a crowd, and everyone was so interested in finding out more about the process and the history of the machine as well. There really isn’t a better feeling than to be able to share what I love to do with others, and them have an equally positive feeling about it.
Do you ever feel vulnerable putting your work out there? How do you overcome it?
Always. I think on some level I will always feel like a fraud, I’m not good enough, it’s not “cool” or “new” enough. I think this is something that most creatives fight with every day and it’s part of the creative process. However, what differentiates everyone is how they deal with it. I like to pull myself back into journaling or meditating, and I always tell myself that there is room for me in this world. There is a stigma with artists hating their work, but I believe you have to be able to be your biggest fan. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?
Do have any advice or words of wisdom for other creatives?
Don’t give up. It’s also a journey that never ends. After transitioning Gypstitch from hobby to business, I have constantly been waiting to get to a point where everything kind of starts to coast and I don’t feel this cloud of hectic energy around me. I don’t think that ever goes away. You have to be involved in every part of your business, all the time. You have to continually work to form new ideas to keep things going. There have been times where I’ve considered going back to a cushy corporate job, but I know that’s not who I am or what I want. You just cant give up. One of the most important traits in successful people is perseverance, more so than true talent. Those who continue to stick it out eventually come out on top.
What do you want your art and products to do for those experiencing it?
I have always loved fashion because it’s one of the best ways to express yourself as an individual. I want to create pieces that make other people’s head turn and wonder where that person got it. When you put on a custom jacket that I made, it’s tailored to that specific person, and the feeling of them knowing they are the only one in the world who has what theyre wearing, it’s a beautiful thing. I also do a lot of work in the wedding industry with custom wedding jackets and I am always so fulfilled knowing I contributed a small portion to the best day of someones life.