Nature Inspired Embroidery

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‘Annie Lang is a contemporary embroidery designer inspired by nature, adventure and Northern Michigan.’

How did you get into textiles?
I feel like I really just fell into it. I’ve always been a creative person and constantly finding new ways to work with my hands. I went to college and graduated with a degree in graphic design but decided I didn’t want to sit at a desk job on a computer all day. I went in the complete opposite direction and started to work in the outdoor industry helping run an outdoor school for college kids. During my time there I was on the road a lot and lived in a tiny little cabin, so drawing and teaching myself the basics of embroidery was a creative thing that didn’t take up much room and I could easily throw in my backpack. That time I spent in that industry and environment is still a huge inspiration to my work even years later.

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What’s your process when creating embroideries?
When I first started embroidering more seriously I did it on the road or in the backcountry. I would sketch what I thought the landscapes in front of me would look like as a topographic maps. The time I spent embroidering those drawings was a way for me to reflect on my time in those areas. I still tend to lean towards that process especially when I am working on series of maps of places I know. I use colour palettes that remind me of that area. All the work that goes into those pieces make each of them very personal because I have so much time to think and reflect on my experiences in the place I am capturing in my art.

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What do you have as background noise when you’re working?
These days instead of working in the quiet of backcountry Utah, I work from my home in Northern Michigan. Background noise is usually my dog snoring, Netflix or whatever music fits my mood that day. My favorites lately have been Milky Chance, Glass Animals and Middle East. But Bon Iver will always be my go to artist as well.
Your embroideries are pieces of art. What other ways would you like to apply your textiles? Fashion, interiors etc.
I would love to work my embroidery into interiors but inspiration to do so hasn’t really struck me yet. The idea of creating art that does more than just hang on a wall has always been so intriguing to me. As far as fashion, I find couture houses inspiring, definitely from an embroidery standpoint, but that is such a disconnect from my life I don’t see myself breaking into that industry with my viewpoint.

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What do you like about embroidery?
I was first drawn to it because I could take it anywhere and it was something I could do at the end of the day to unwind. My hands don’t like being idle for long. Even at the end of exhausting work days, embroidery is a way for me to relax.

Your embroideries are bright and vibrant. Do you ever feel like using less colours or doing something more monotone? 
Until recently I was really scared of colour. My first pieces I did were white thread on white paper. I still love that monotone look but now I like working the colour palettes into a feeling I get when thinking of the area I am embroidering. I always have been a fan of minimal colour palettes so I know I will always bounce between vibrancy and monotones in my work.

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Tell me about your business and work you’re involved in with Maggie Mielczarek.
Besides embroidering I also use my design skills to run my business, Compass Paper Co. It’s a paper goods brand that is inspired by my life outdoors as well, but has a very different feel from my embroidery pieces. As a creative person it is hard to just have one outlet so typically the embroidery and Compass keep me satisfied and my hands busy. And if that wasn’t enough I also work for another textile artist, Maggie Mielczarek. She is a third generation artist that turns her paintings inspired by waterside living in Northern Michigan into fabrics for her company, Leland gal. I help her run her shop and do countless things behind the scenes. It has been a huge part of my education about what it means to be a creative business owner. Her store is geared towards interiors and it is such an inspiration to be a part of. She has such an eye for colour and is definitely the reason I am becoming more fearless when playing with colour palettes.

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What other types of textiles methods would you like to explore and why?
I love the looks of weaving but I know I don’t have time to fall in love with another time-consuming art form at the moment. Embroidery has so many stitches and processes I have been truly happy playing and learning as I go.

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What books would you recommend for lovers of textiles?
I honestly don’t have any recommendations as far as books. I don’t own any myself besides reference books about embroidering stitches but when I need inspiration I turn to my collection of art books. I always find myself flipping through books on graphic design, street art, paintings, interiors and my favorite nature-centric artist, Andy Goldsworthy, when I feel stuck.

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Plans and goals for the future?
Right now I am just enjoying how organically I am growing as an embroidery artist. Commissions have been rolling in steadily but I am hoping to start working on some larger scale pieces and maybe pick up some galleries to show my work. Until then I will be happily stitching.

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You can see more of Annie’s uplifting work here.

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