The Case for Off-Line Creative: Embroidery & Education

This post is fourth in a series of posts by Christina Crook.

Karen Ruane:

Contemporary Embroidery

For Karen embroidery is both a vocation and obsession. She sets her hands to work every single day. Mixing classic and contemporary techniques, her sophisticated white-on-white designs are in high demand.

“My work is born from tradition and respect. Respect for my female predecessors and a wish to continue the traditions of needlework taught to me as a child.”

In addition to creating, Ruane has exhibited her work all across England, offers online courses in embellishment, buttons and more and runs an Etsy shop. The Internet plays an important role in her instructional work, but she sets aside at least four hours a day simply for making.

For her it comes down to priorities.

Describe your relationship with the Web. I am amazed and totally in awe of the internet. It opens up so many possibilities for communication, interaction and learning and I wonder constantly how we ever managed without it. It's like when you have kids, you can't remember what life was like before. That goes for the web with me too.

What advice would you share with others regarding the interplay between the physical work of making and the online demands of the Internet? I try to make the internet work for me yet not take over. I don't want to be an administrator, I want to be a maker and a teacher. It is a conscious effort daily to set aside the time for both as separate aspects of what I do, embroiderer and online creative. Divide your time, prioritize, is your heart with making or do you prefer the interactive aspects of what you do....?

Do you try and restrict your time online? Why or why not? I try and control rather than restrict my time online. I have to have a certain level of online presence to work with students in my online classes but making is my passion and I set aside at least four hours a day purely for making. The internet time is decided by how much time I have remaining after making is planned.

What do you love about the Internet? I love that the internet gives me an opportunity to reach the world, for free in order to promote my work. I love that it allows me to teach in places like the US, Canada, Australia and Europe without leaving the house…isn't that amazing? Having access to the internet also allows me to keep up to date with contemporary art, see what is new and developing in terms of my peers.

What do you dislike about the Internet? My main concern about the internet is the misuse of images relating to creative work. I have seen numerous examples of images being used without proper credit given to the maker. I also think that as the internet is such an 'instant' media there is an assumption that creativity is 'instant' which in some cases can devalue the work of talented, original makers.