Clara Pinto is textiles designer originally from Buenos Aires now living in East London. Before moving to London she studied Fine Arts specialised in Painting at the National University of Arts in Buenos Aires (UNA) and then got her BA degree in Fashion womenswear at ABM.
How did you get into embroidery?
A few years after my great-aunt passed (which I didn’t really know that well) I got contacted by a friend of hers. It turned out she used to embroider for Armani and I received all her possessions. A room full of everything you can think of regarding embroidery; threads and sequins I’ve never seen elsewhere. With that in my hands, I started attending an embroidery workshop. Every Friday at 7pm a group of talented, beautiful and incredibly diverse women got together to drink red wine and learn how to embroider. The workshops were in an art gallery in Buenos Aires called Formosa Galeria – Guillermina Baiguera is the teacher and owner.
What other textiles have you explored or would like to explore?
I’m as devoted to felt as I am to embroidery. They are crafts that require a lot of time and patience. I’m not precisely a patient nor meticulous person so all my felts and embroideries are rough, impulsive, a bit animalistic. Contrary to embroidery, making felt involves your whole body and the process is quite dynamic. When it comes to new things to explore, I’m getting involved in millinery lately and it’s functioning as the perfect canvas for my work.
What are your plans and goals in terms of textiles, what kind of job would you like?
I moved to London from Argentina to work in the fashion industry. After working for these high-end brands I’ve always dreamed of I realised I wasn’t really getting a thrill of it and I could potentially spend long years in the industry if I didn’t make a decision. So I decided to do my own thing, which doesn’t necessarily involve having your own label. I have lots of different projects and collaborations which keep me busy and very happy. You just need to work really hard, be focused and active.
How do think people perceive textiles?
I believe anybody who is sensitive enough to appreciate any type of artistic discipline is perfectly able to acknowledge the quality, work and beauty of textiles. But we all know textile design is not that ‘popular’. I‘m not surprised when people don’t even know what textile design actually is.
Who would you like to work with and why?
Bjork! Helping James T Merry for one of her head pieces would be a pleasure. Working with up and coming designers and artists is always very interesting – Molly Goddard, Masha Reva, Hyunmi Nielsen, Cecilie Bahnsen to name a few.
What else would you like to learn or use?
The kantan needle. It will get my tidiness and speed going!
Do you ever get aches and pains when you’re embroidering, if so where and what do you do to help them?
My thumbs are already numb at the amount of times needles went deep into them. It’s really important to be conscious of your back and neck while working. If you are not, then ibuprofen will do.
How do you apply your textiles?
Most of my embroideries are for fashion collections. I try to include various techniques in the same textile, such as digital print, screen-printing, felting and embroidery.
What would you like to create that you haven’t before?
Hats, I’m quite excited to see how that goes.
How do you feel about sharing your work on social media?
Social media is very useful, but it’s only useful if you put a lot of time on it and you play the game right. Being in a creative industry, it’s really concerning how people spend too much time looking for inspiration from the Internet. I would recommend looking outside, that’s where all the data comes from.
What do you love about textiles?
In my opinion, it’s the strongest form of expression. It’s right in your face, it’s everywhere, it carries information and it’s versatile. My work is usually really conceptual and extremely personal; I’ve collaborated with anthropologists and sociologists to develop all my collections. I’m not happy with just a nice print and cool shape. I believe humans need to open their eyes, absorb and react to the world we live in. Textiles are my ground.
Follow Clara here
If you’re interested in learning a form of textiles. I’ll be running an embellishment workshop at Boxpark Shoreditch on Tuesday 12 September. You can book a ticket here.