Ep.48: Chloe Giordano about the art of embroidery and how to live from it

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Nov 09, 2017 •  Interviews

Chloe is a British artist, illustrator and graphic designer known for her animals embroidered with very fine details, so real that they seem to be sleeping on the canvas.

I began to sew in the last year of my illustration degree at the University of the West of England, and since graduating in 2011 I have continued to experiment with freehand embroidery, using sewing thread and hand dyed fabrics to make my work.

Her clients include Penguin, Vintage Books, Bloomsbury, Liberty, the BFI, and a range of private clients.

Get in touch with Chloe

Key Takeaways

“Just be willing to do the work and do what you love and be happy”

Resources mentioned

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Special thanks to Chloe for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Chloe Giordano, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Hello, everyone and welcome to the next episode of Art Side of Life where it’s all about how you can turn your creative passion into a profession. My name is Iva, and my guest today is super talented illustrator with focus on embroidery from Oxford, England. She’s best known for her animals embroidered with very fine details surreal that they seem to be sleeping on a canvas, she began to sew last year over her illustration degree at the University of West England. And since graduating in 2011, she has continued to experiment with freehand embroidery, using sewing thread and hand dyed fabrics to make her work. Her clients include Penguin, Vintage Books, Bloomsbury in the range of private clients due, she will be releasing her first book about the details of her work in spring 2018. So please welcome Chloe Giordano. And let’s get to the interview. Welcome. And I would like to start maybe with your background and kind of how you got to art Did you always knew that you want to be a designer,

Chloe Giordano  

loved art. And I’ve always loved painting. And I’ve always loved animals, I didn’t really decide I wanted to be an artist as a career until I was about 16 or 17. And it’s just because I didn’t realize it could be a career, I didn’t go to a school that I didn’t know anyone who was an artist making a living, I didn’t realize it was a it was a viable job. And then when I was about 17, I, I just realized it’s something I can work out, it’s like any kind of skill you put the work in will get better, and then you can do it. And that’s when I just decided yes want to be in office. The embroidery part didn’t come until the last year of my degree, I was doing a degree in illustration. And but up until that point, I was doing kind of very fine pen and pencil work. I wanted to do kind of golden age illustrations or folio society sort of work. But then I started sewing instead. And I just went off in a completely different direction for the last minute and terrified my tutors. But I really fell in love with it. Like I knew as soon as I started doing it, I was like, this is the direction I want to go in. And I’ve been very sure about that since then get a lot more out of it than I used to with my old work. And then

Iva Mikles  

do you remember like the first conversation with you had either with your parents or teachers or whoever you were closest with, you know about, like, oh, I don’t want to do the illustration. And I want to do full time embroidery.

Chloe Giordano  

I remember explaining it to my tutors at university. And they just looked very confused. I remember that I was quite kind of knocked back. I was I was really excited about this. And they were kind of like, Sure. So my, my parents have always been very supportive, like they’re not, they’re not very arty. And that sounds quite mean they’re not autistic, but it is not something they know a lot about. So I think they obviously they know me, they know that I’m willing to put the work in. So I, if I rock up and say I’m going to do this, I think it can make it work. So we’re like, Okay, sure. So that was always very encouraging. And yeah, like my friends were, as I like said it’s probably my tutors were a bit confused. I think they were worried because I as I say it was at the end of my degree. So that’s not a good time to suddenly change the way you work. So they did, it did knock me back a little bit, but it meant I had to sit down and really think about what I wanted to achieve what I could achieve. And I think that was that was a good thing. So I’m glad they did it. I’m not at all resentful that they were kind of like, Could you stop and think about what you’re doing? I think it was their right to make me do that. And I’m glad they did. Yeah, mostly, it was quite positive, very positive feedback. And again, really nice.

Iva Mikles  

Did you did you have to do some sacrifices when you decided to do this as a career?

Chloe Giordano  

I mean, not that many because I decided I wanted to be an artist be an illustrator years before that. So I was in that way of working. So there were sacrifices you have to make. I kind of already made them and I already knew what they were before I switched to embroidery. So it’s kind of not having terribly good. So short. I’ve just always working. I had to learn to become very self motivated. I used to be kind of the sort of person who I would lie in and I would only do like the bare minimum I would do everything late. And I think I sort of knew I had to accept that I had to become more disciplined. But yeah, I’d kind of decided that before I started doing embroidery. And that got easier when I did embroidery because I loved it more so it was easier to not lose focus and make myself work more. So it was just a lot more exciting for me so it didn’t feel like a sacrifice or anything. Yeah, and

Iva Mikles  

Do you remember what it was maybe like the best advice you ever received,

Chloe Giordano  

um, it was probably my tutors actually. Because I, as I said, they were quite skeptical. And one of them told me that I shouldn’t feel I have to turn into a production line like, because at the beginning, I was doing soft sculptures and things like that. And I would just make repeats of the same piece to sell. And she was like, you know, you’re an artist, you’re not, you’re not a textiles factory, she was just focused on doing what you want to do and not feel we have to keep meeting the demand. And that was really important with me, because I did worry about that as like, it’s very hard to make a living, if you’re trying to keep up with like a sewing machine or a company making things. So it has made me focus on making my work, it’s more about me and about being a special one off piece of art. Rather than something I just repeat and repeat. And today, especially I like I really, I won’t go back and repeat a piece, if you could say love like and have another one, you don’t want to go there again. And it’s gonna pick up. So that is it. Definitely a much more enriching process. And I’m really, really glad that they actually pointed out to me for something like this before I graduated. So it’s a good mindset to get into. And I find myself saying the same thing to other artists who want to do similar work, because I just don’t feel like you’re a machine, just do. What you want to do, and keep moving, keep changing and learning just leads to a much more enriching career, I think.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And also, it’s probably helped that you are really good in drawing and sketching, like, in the process of designing the embroidery. Yeah,

Chloe Giordano  

yeah, I rely a lot on my, my painting and drawing experience. Because before I started doing embroidery, I did want to go into work that was quite realistic. So I studied a lot from those sites I studied from the old masters and, and I think it’s invaluable to how I work now. So it’s quite often when people ask how to do embroidery, like you tell them to work on their drawing skills, which isn’t normally what people want to hear. I think they want a step by step process. But it’s, I couldn’t Yeah, I can do my embroidery, if I couldn’t draw the way I do. And I rely on it a lot. I still do a lot of Sketchbook work, I do a lot of observational drawing before I’ll go anywhere near an embroidery. So yeah, it’s really integral.

Iva Mikles  

So how do you kind of approach the process because then you say you maybe look for references, or do right away, have something in mind, and then you do the sketch, and then you start the embroidery?

Chloe Giordano  

I’ve been thinking about this recently, because I’m one of those people that doesn’t think about what I’m doing until I have to explain it to people. And I realized what I do is I have an idea in mind. First, I come up with a strong silhouette of how I may be one particular animal to be standing how I want the proposition laid out. And once I’ve decided that I do some loose sketches. And it’s only at that point and then look at reference. So I’m finding reference my idea rather than getting my idea from reference, and it’s, I think that’s much better, but you’re not copying anyone that way and your everything is is much more original that way. Because it’s I’m just trying to find something to help me carry my idea through with reference rather than just copying from it. I will sometimes do a selection of drawings from reference beforehand. It’s just if it’s an animal I’m not that familiar with, I’m just trying to understand how they work. And then I’ll go into a final drawing and why I want to do where I’m not really looking at one single reference. It’s just blending things together. No real imagination.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Because when I saw first time your work, I was like, oh my god, this is amazing. Like, how is this possible? And then also like your colors of the animals like how you do the shading, that’s really amazing. So do you how do you choose the colors when you do the sketch, then you kind of lay out the materials.

Chloe Giordano  

It depends the colors for the animals I normally pick after the sketch. And again, I normally have a very strong idea what I want. So it is a case of I just get all my my friends out. And I kind of sit there picking and choosing and going through them. And it’s it’s a case of trying to find enough colors that will bend smoothly but not using so many that it becomes muddy, and undefined. So it’s an anomaly. I’m about eight, I think seven or eight colors on animal. Whereas with background colors, I will think about it more beforehand and I do little paintings in my sketchbook or sometimes I’ll do a little painting on Photoshop try and work out. I don’t tend to do that with the animals themselves. I normally kind of know I want one of them and get the colors out. I have a huge collection of red colors now. So it’s really just a case of I kind of append everything on my desk and then I just play around and just until it feels right you know, you can see the graduation in colors that I want. So it’s just until I find something that works.

Iva Mikles  

And so for the gradient, you usually use maybe if we have for example, the bunny and then you have a brown there, they use maybe three brown colors or

Chloe Giordano  

something. What I’m using right now actually is I’m turning the phone at the moment, and I’m just looking here I’ve got I’d say free Browns And then it goes into gold. So I’ve got about three Goldy cream colors. And there’s about two tones of cream. Quite often I’ll start off with more, and then I’m not quite out, I realized I don’t need it. So yeah, it’s normally if we’re just yet if we’re talking about like a section of Browncoat, we’re normally looking at two or three shapes. Maybe. It depends what animal it is where it’s going. Yeah, again, I try not to use too many sounds. Do you think there’ll be absolutely loads in there? It’s normally any free, just blended? Well,

Iva Mikles  

okay. Because it’s really fascinating as well for me, as I usually just draw, and I never tried embroidery. So it’s, well really detailed. And so what fascinated you on embroidery? Why did you like Go for it?

Chloe Giordano  

I, I was actually trying to embroider how I draw, I, I fell in love with the actual embroidery, and I love the tactile nature of it. But then I still wanted to create work like my drawings and like my paintings. So that’s why I ended up going down this road of developing this very detailed and specific way of working. Because I was just I was just trying to replicate my drawings. And that’s why I ended up switching from sewing for it rather than using embroidery floss, which is a lot thicker. And it’s just because the way I was working, I used local, quite a sharp pencil and quite small. So it’s it’s yeah, it’s just one replicating that I didn’t quite realize that’s what I was doing at the time. It was just looking back I was I can see here, I’ve just been trying to copy my sketchbook and eventually found a way that works. And that’s why they come out the size they are as well. I think it’s just the way that Fred and that level of detail comes together. Rather than thinking I want to make a tiny animal. It’s just it’s just the scale that works up locally.

Iva Mikles  

And if you think about the all your words, do you have like a vision we do go through all of your work?

Chloe Giordano  

I think so again, it’s not something I’ve sat down and fought, prove. It’s just a thread that I when I look back, I can kind of see that I’ve always been aiming for a certain amount of realism with a certain amount of kind of whimsy and imagination and detail in my work whether or not whether it was drawing or painting or embroidery. And I was always trying to push myself just to get to that next level when that next level. So when I think like where my work is going, it’s just I really love with the process of how I work. I think that’s why I do it. And it’s just about refining that and pushing it over every time and kind of trying to take it a little bit further each time. And I think that’s it. Like I said, if you look at my work, it’s just me trying to go push it a little bit further, every single time I’m trying to do something, it’s just trying to make it a little bit better every time. So yeah, there is a kind of vision, but it’s not one I can really articulate. Like I know, in my mind what I want to achieve. quite sure what it is your sense.

Iva Mikles  

And then when you think about the inspiration, and because you’re like animals and like maybe plans, is there something which is strange, or people find strange, you’re inspired by

Chloe Giordano  

I think I look at a lot of taxidermy, which I think freaks quite a lot. I’m surprised at how many people find it very odd because to me, it seemed like a very sensible kind of reference, like when I say when I like to draw, and I like to draw from life. But quite often I go to natural history museums over in London and Oxford, and I draw from the skeletons and the taxidermy animals and things like that. So to me, it seems like a very sensible thing to do. But I found when I then share it on social media people are they’re so sad, it’s dead. And that’s really when I’m sorry. Like, I’m sad the animals dead. Because I have like a collection of schools as well I like to draw from just because it’s, in my mind, it’s the best way to understand what you’re looking at is to understand the bones underneath the animal. But yeah, some people do find it very morbid. They’re hit or miss hit or miss. I mean, there’s a lot of artists that are making that work for them. If you think of people like Mr. Finch, she’s doing a lot of animals that you can tell are inspired by dead animals. And it’s, it’s beautiful. So I think it depends on how the person has it across I guess. Yeah, but I think a lot of my friends would prefer live animals so I’m trying to

Iva Mikles  

but I mean, if you think about it, as well, on the art schools, you study the anatomy and basically that’s how you build the you have the skeleton. Yeah, the muscles and then you have the live animals. Yeah,

Chloe Giordano  

exactly, as I say, accommodate, like I draw. And that’s how I learned to draw people we learned, you know, we studied muscles we studied, we studied the skeleton, and then we moved on to drawing from life. So to me, it’s just a very, it’s just the way I learned. But I think, I guess if you’re coming at it from a non art school perspective, I can see how it’s, it’s a little bit odd. Yeah, have a school collection. Yeah, I try to keep the bare minimum.

Iva Mikles  

And if you think about like, if someone wants to start what do you do now? What would you recommend them to to start maybe mediums, tools?

Chloe Giordano  

I mean, I, as I said, I’m self taught and I didn’t. I started out trying to learn traditional embroidery stitches now. I just found myself alone. are a bit bored, which is why I then started just trying things out i That’s mainly what I tell people to do as I honestly, I just got some fabric, I’ve got some friends and I made a lot of mess at first. And there were a lot of mistakes and a lot of mistakes. And eventually I hit on something I liked. So it’s not a step by step process. For me, it’s just just try things out until we hit something light. And as I said, I’d quite often recommend that people do look at how they’re drawing and just see if they can understand what they’re looking at, before they then try and embroider it, because there’s no pattern I can give them. So it’s kind of just a case of learning as much as you can about your subject and then just going for it. And it doesn’t look great in beginning like my first works. I think I’ve got rid of most of them. They were terrible. It was terrible for at least I’d say about a year because I had no experience whatsoever. They were awful. So it’s yeah. So as well, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. So don’t be discouraged. If it doesn’t look very good diversity times because no one’s good at anything, just from the beginning. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Did you watch some tutorials online? Or where did you learn?

Chloe Giordano  

Like I watched a couple on YouTube. But again, that was traditional stitches. So I kind of wasn’t I didn’t find it really interesting. So again, I just ended up. Yeah, well, I didn’t really look at that many videos, tutorials, I would say once I decided I didn’t want to do traditional stitches. I found I found YouTube plays that really, really helpful when I did learn the traditional stitches. And when people want to do that, I’m like, that’s what I would do. That’s how I learn best rather than reading it from a book. So I would recommend that if you want to do sort of traditional embroidery, but from the way I work, I didn’t actually look at any I think as I said, I was trying to develop it on myself, I was trying to find a way of working for myself, so I didn’t research it because I didn’t even entirely know what it was. So yeah, for me, it was entirely free just trial and error and making mistakes and learning from them.

Iva Mikles  

And did you have like a favorite medium, I mean, the brands to stitch with or something which you can recommend.

Chloe Giordano  

And I use sewing thread, rather than embroidery floss over cotton or polyester, you can get over one, it doesn’t make a huge difference. I seem to mostly use rankled gutem in these days, which hasn’t been a conscious decision, they just seem I think they have a wider range of colors. And that’s why I ended up with mostly those ones. And then I just work on Calico fabric, which is kind of slightly rougher cotton. Just because it gives you more of a textured background. When I die the color in it, it has a bit more variation. And it’s a little bit thicker as well. So we can handle a lot of detail in the small space. But that’s basically it. I don’t have any really fancy tools. And it’s what I started with. I started with some simple fabric and a bit afraid and who and then I still I haven’t added anything to that. I don’t think

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, and when you like choose the colors, do you go to local stores? Or do you order online?

Chloe Giordano  

I have to order online a lot just because here in Oxford, we have one small haberdashery, so they only had quite a small range. And I’m pretty sure I already owned every color they had. So if I needed a particular kind of replaced, I would go in there and take it. Sadly, they they’re closing soon, I think they’ve already closed. We’re luckily getting so boring to be excited by this. We’re getting a branch of John Lewis soon, which is like a big department store here in the UK, and a really one over there. So intersections, and that is the only store I can go into where they have a huge range of colors. And I can actually look at them all. So that’s what I want to do is just finding someone with that many friends. So I’m really excited about actually having one here in Oxford that I can then go and compare. If they let me in because I’m quite old, I kind of bring in a pocket like of the colors or half. And then I’ve kind of lined them up on the display. And then I pick up things until they match. And there’s always someone looking at me like yes, I do most the time it is online, but my preference would be looking at it in person. It’s just very hard to find somewhere with hundreds and hundreds of sewing fluid comes.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, exactly. Because you want to compare, as you said, like being sharp.

Chloe Giordano  

Yeah, I need to match the color because the ones online, never anything like it. So I ended up pulling up color charts trying to find the number next to it on the original color chart, which is surprisingly hard to find. There seems to be loads of different ones for different brands, and they seem to mean different things. So it’s a bit of a nightmare. So luckily, I don’t have to buy colors very often I have to have so many. I don’t most projects I don’t need to buy a new color for but when I want a new range of colors, I would like to go see them. Like I want a new green suit and I’d rather see them in person just so I can get a nice gradation of them all know until October. I’m so excited.

Iva Mikles  

It’s so cool. I love to go also to art shops. So it’s

Chloe Giordano  

something else from here. It’s beautiful is really big. There’s just no knitting shop. It’s coming, it’s coming.

Iva Mikles  

It’s really good. And how do you design your day because as you mentioned that you go maybe sometimes to buy the supplies. And how do you plan maybe your week

Chloe Giordano  

and I love planning very, very sort of first branches are in my diary. During the week, I do prefer not to go by things, I tend to go in the city center on the weekend and do that kind of thing. In the week, I really want to be focusing on embroidery. And just because I prefer working very long solid blocks where I can really focus rather than stopping and starting. So what I tend to do is I get up very early, about five o’clock, I normally start working about six or six. And then it’s just for about four hours in the morning stop, go for a run, and then I do another four hours. And then by about four o’clock in the afternoon, my attention span has gone. So at that point, I started doing sketchbook work and things like that, but it’s always Yeah, very oddly, I kind of set down in the week what I want to do that week, and then I’ll go day by day, and just make a list like a to do list for the next day as well, which some people hate, but I love it, I find it so much easier to be working to my own my own schedule and knowing that I’ve got things done and ticking things off. So it’s tower, it’s how I like to work, I definitely want to work for a lot of people. Which is why a lot of artists like to work in studios, and they kind of prefer to have that environment. Whereas I, like have my own schedule. That starts very early and would annoy other people. But yeah, so normally in the weekend, if I need to buy anything, I’ll go into the city center, because obviously it’s about 2025 minutes on the bus getting from Oxford traffic to the actual journey. And then back again. See, I quite like having the week Monday to Friday out here. I’m really, really quiet, just hanging out. Rather than, yeah, some people go do errands in the morning and then go back and do work again the afternoon. I’m not the kind of person I have to have my whole day planned out. And no stopping or staffing. So

Iva Mikles  

yeah. And how long does one creation take

Chloe Giordano  

maybe. And probably the average size animal with plants can be a week and a half to two weeks. It can depend on what it is like with the rabbits now I’ve done so many I’m very familiar with them, I can do one a lot faster. At the moment, I’m doing a new form piece, which isn’t a subject I’ve done again, actually, since the little sleeping form that became very popular a couple of years ago, I haven’t done a single phone or deer since then. So because I’m not as familiar with it, it’s taking me longer. So I’ve been working on this one for about four or five days now. And we’ve only got like a head and half a leg. Just because I when I’m not sure. And when I’m doing new stitches, a lot of my process is just me looking at it going. So and then maybe doing one stitch and then staring at it again for another five minutes. So it’s it’s quite slow going, and I’m not quite sure what I’m doing. It’s also why I don’t do any demonstrations. Because I think people actually get quite bored. I don’t think they’re ready for how long it takes. So there’ll be a crowd of people and me just looking in and doing one stitch and they haven’t done very many.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, but maybe just a sped up process. You know,

Chloe Giordano  

when I have been filming myself, actually, isn’t it I’m like, let’s make this two times faster. Because no one’s gotten much done no time for this. It’s not boring to me. But when I look through afterwards, I’m like. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

and if you think about the projects, which are coming up or something you would like to share something exciting.

Chloe Giordano  

Me one exciting, which I think I can talk about now is I am working on a book about my work with publisher, which will be next next spring. So it’s as well as there’s been a collection of pieces I’ve already done, it’s going to go into detail about what materials, I use my inspiration and technique. And then we’re going to follow one embroidery from start to finish very closely and annotated all the way through. Just because obviously I get asked a lot about how I do things. And it’s quite a long answer that I find quite hard to answer just in a reply on an Instagram comment. So we’re really hoping this can be something people to reference to when they want to know more. And will hopefully kind of explain that it’s why it’s a kind of process that doesn’t have a pattern. And it’s something that’s quite hard to explain in a few short tips. So and it should be quite practical as well. I think it’s going to be a hardback, which is was very important to me. So I’m really excited. So I’m doing all the work for that at the moment. I think I’m going to start the piece we’re going to follow soon. And I’m not going to be showing it on any social media before then we want it to be just for the book. So it’s gonna be a bit quiet for a while. I’ve also just completed a book cover design, which I was really excited about. Again, I don’t think I I didn’t really try not to say what book it was for or what offer until the publisher releases it. But this was all very well known or current software whose work I’ve been reading for years. So it was really really flattered to be asked and it was just such a lovely job and so there was no upsets or anything or difficult points all the way through and is really great to work on. So hopefully I can post about that in the next month or so I’m really looking forward to sharing that one. I see a lot of Books Publishing

Iva Mikles  

nice Because I saw some of the book covers you did. And so you mentioned one of them were kind of like the biggest project. What is kind of more difficult for you? Is it or kind of what do you prefer to do is the book covers or the animals,

Chloe Giordano  

I get asked that quite a lot. And I kind of cop out by saying both, they’re very different kinds of work. And I wouldn’t want to be doing either of them all the time. So I feel I’ve got really nice balance now where I do like two or three covers a year, and then switch back between the works publishing work is you’re working with a team rather than just for me. So which is interesting for me for a shorter period of time, I wouldn’t want to do all the time. And then obviously, there’s a lot tighter deadlines and things like that, which is fine, if I’m just doing it every now and then I wouldn’t want to be constantly working to that kind of deadlines. It’s very stressful, especially when you’re working and slowly as I do, but the same with the animals and things like that. It’s it’s wonderful doing self directed work, but I think it’s good for me to do things like to be pushed into areas I wouldn’t normally do, I wouldn’t normally come out with some of the stuff I’ve been doing for book covers. And that’s why I like those jobs, I find them really challenging, and they made me try something new. But again, ever since then I would want to go back to doing animals. I mean, that’s what I think I’m happy with the balance I’ve got right now I like switching between them. I think they appreciate each one.

Iva Mikles  

And how do you find new paid projects? Is it through social media? Or do you do networking on some events, or I think

Chloe Giordano  

basically, they find me, I guess through social media, it was when I graduated, I did try contacting publishers and art directors and I didn’t hear anything back. And it was quite discouraging. But and so instead, I just started working on bettering my work and consistently posting on social media. And I think it’s through that is how publishers and other clients have found me. So again, I don’t have very much advice for contacting clients. But my advice is normally like, stay up to date on social media and just constantly be reassessing your work. Because one of the reasons I think having any feedback when I initially tried was because my work wasn’t very good. Like, I’d only just started doing it, I was I wasn’t good enough. So that’s why I went away. And I focused on what I was doing. And I tried to improve it. And then when I did put out there it was, it was good enough for clients to actually want to commission more work. So it’s yeah, just not quite lazy. It’s like I just sit here and they, I think is on the back of like years and years, and years and years of like social media updates and working and working and working. So that’s how it happened to me.

Iva Mikles  

So how many years? Are you on social media kind of actively?

Chloe Giordano  

I think it was 2011, I started my Tumblr, and that was the first place I managed to consistently update with no, I say that I’ve not been very good updating that one for the last year or so. But yeah, before that, I’d always start a new blog. And then I’d get bored of it a month later, and we’d start a new one. And I’d kind of move around. Whereas that one it was about it was when I started something, and I was consistently updating it for years and years. So it’s now seven years now I’ve been updating that one. So it and it did take a long time to build a social media following I did have a year or even two where I didn’t really get very much feedback. I didn’t really have that many people following or being interesting to some people hit sophio popularity straightaway on social media. But I think for most of us it is a case of just being consistent and trying to put out your best work. And just hoping people are like it.

Iva Mikles  

Where people can connect with you the most now is it Instagram,

Chloe Giordano  

probably Instagram relevance. I fought joining Instagram for ages. And then I joined last September. I think so many just leaving it a year. But I really love it now. It’s not just the like talking to people who like my work. I love how many artists I love I found on there, it seems to be where the things I enjoy are. I just constantly open my feet. I’m like I love everything on. Yeah, definitely on there the most. So I’m on Twitter as well. But definitely spend more time on Instagram, try to answer questions on there as well.

Iva Mikles  

And when we talked about the project and different types of projects, how do you decide how to say no and the SD project?

Chloe Giordano  

And I say no, I don’t want to say quite a lot because it makes us I can do anything. So I think a lot of people email me about projects like that aren’t aware of the restrictions of my work, or they’re not. I can tell from the get go that I’m not actually the kind of embroidery artists they need. Because it’s when people aren’t that familiar with embroidery. They don’t I guess they you know, they don’t understand the different applications. They don’t understand the time limits. So quite often, I was actually quite gently say you actually need someone who does machine embroidery or something like that, like I’m happy to refer clients to people that I think will do the job better. So that’s tends to be how it goes really it’s like I don’t actually think I’m the person for this job. I haven’t really had to turn any down that I wanted to do because I didn’t have time I’ve always wanted If I really want to do something I will fit in. Even if been sitting up all night pages. I had that one I did the Charlotte Bronte have a couple of years ago had to fit it in work. So as a lot of all nighters, but yeah, for me if I can find the space, if I really want to, but yeah, most of the jobs just but they aren’t actually for me, and I’m quite happy to say that I think it’s important to say that rather than than just agreeing to it, and then the client isn’t happy, and you’re not happy and no one’s happy. So I think it’s really important to just do the jobs you really want to do.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, for sure. And how do you combine now the income streams do you like fully work for from freelance or what is the percentage maybe of the split?

Chloe Giordano  

At the moment, basically, what month Friday or work at home, I do have a weekend job at the moment, but I’m leaving beginning of August, and then it will be just completely freelance, which I’m a little bit afraid of, but it’s like as I wound it down, I’ve been like dropping a day in a day in a day. So I’m not going from a full time day job to just freelance so I’m should be fine. And I might have weekends off as well, which is quite exciting as I haven’t had, I’ve been working seven days a week for the last four or five years. So I know when I didn’t actually stop or think about it until I handed my notice in those like weekends. weekends off. Yeah, I mean income I do. I do have quite diverse income streams, I think that’s really important. And that’s would be my advice to anyone wanting to go freelance is you, I would never just rely on selling original pieces or just rely on publishing work or just rely on my Etsy shop, it’s important to have all three of them, strings go up and down. Like every, you know, things go quiet for a couple of months. And if you have other work you can do, then that’s, you know, you don’t have to worried and have to sort of be looking at your savings and getting panicky. I’m quite lucky, actually. Now I get into selling originals, it’s very easy for me to think really, I need I need money. So I will just make I will make something for sale, and then I will sell it and it’s quite whereas when I graduated, I thought I’d be doing illustration work, which is more waiting for clients to contact you. So do you feel by flicking between that and fine art, just selling my own pieces is much, much easier to make a living from. It has taken some getting the hang up, I kind of fought here first, I didn’t want to be running a shop. And I didn’t think I wanted to sell that many original pieces because I was trained as an illustrator. I didn’t think like a fine artist. So I’m really glad I do now and I really enjoy both of those things, perhaps Perhaps more than the work I thought I would be doing.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Now, would you want to go like freelance full time soon? And can you share maybe like the worst career moment what you had so far.

Chloe Giordano  

I don’t think about that. And I haven’t had any truly awful ones I couldn’t there’s nothing that immediately, which is really, really nice, I guess then, like say the the period after I graduated was quite discouraging, because I just felt like I was putting work out into the world. And it was just going into a void and are missing it and I wanted to see it. And it’s which I think, you know, from speaking to other artists, and whether they embroider or not, is very normal, everyone goes through that stage. And I speak to a lot of people who are in that stage right now. And I’m like, you just, you know, just go for it, it will stop there. But I can’t think of any particular I’ve not had like a worst day or anything like that. So I get stuck in ruts like everyone does. But you know, they don’t last too long, I’m quite good at changing tact and motivating myself. So all in all, it’s been quite a happy

Iva Mikles  

in kind of what was yourself dog, you know, to kind of overcome to those moments.

Chloe Giordano  

I’m, I’m very, as I said, when I decided I wanted to be an artist, I just learned that it was something you could work at. And so I would just say to myself, you need to work harder, to be honest. Like it’s not, I it’s very important to let go of the notion that Oh, someone has talent, and I can’t do it. So I might as well give up. But it was just I would just say you need to you need to put the if you put the work in it or happen, which some people find quite daunting, I find it really, really encouraging to think I just need to put the time in, and I just need to try my best and learn more. And it will happen. And so I think that’s why I don’t struggle so much with motivation. So I’m not waiting for some sort of outside source to motivate me and give me inspiration. It’s just I know it’s me, and I know when you just need to do the work, which I luckily enjoy doing. So again, that’s why I say as I quite often say to newer artists and like you need to learn to motivate yourself and just be willing to put the time in.

Iva Mikles  

Is there something you wish you knew before you started?

Chloe Giordano  

Um, I do. I mean, like, I’ve learned things on the way but I think it was important to learn them as I went, there’s some things you have to learn for yourself, and you have to learn it the hard way. So for me it was learning, like what my tutor said about not being a production line. I didn’t have a first I was kind of like that wrong. And then after a while, I realized actually I was like no, that was really sensible advice and I really need to listen to that and say thing is where we’re like diversify my income. I came out of university a very set idea of what I wanted to do, and I’ve had to learn it doesn’t work. And I’m much happier doing different kinds of work and being more open minded. But I think if I’d been told that beforehand, before I graduated, I probably would just for that I knew better. But it’s like, I think these are a lot of lessons. You just have to learn yourself the hard way. You just yeah. There’s you won’t listen to advice otherwise. Or at least that’s the way I think I know, we have to find out myself. That’s something other than just taking advice, if you can just take the advice and and learn beforehand, that would have been good. Most people are like that, I think we have to make mistakes.

Iva Mikles  

And how do you then as you mentioned, the motivation does it help you also to spend time with your dogs and if you have a day off something like Oh, I cannot create

Chloe Giordano  

i What i One of my favorite things to do when I when I am stuck in a rut is like said go out and draw. So I have a I’m lucky to be in Oxford. So we’ve got the Natural History Museum here. And when I was living at home in Buckingham share, we I was quite near to London. So I used to go to that natural history museum. And it’s just it’s so nice to be drawing somewhere else and to be doing work that isn’t necessarily my job. Which is why I do a lot of live drawing. Actually, I go to two lightering sessions a week at the moment. And it’s not because I intend on going to embroider people, I just really enjoy, it’s really good to do art that isn’t work. And I don’t have to think of it has to have money at the end or has to sell it’s just doing something I’m still learning and I’m still enjoying it. But it’s not got so much consequence to it. I think when you work for yourself, it’s very easy to get kind of stressed and think this has to be good. And this has to be good. And it has to lead to work. So it’s yeah, definitely for me, it’s getting out the house and just doing something similar, but not quite the same. Any I do like taking the dogs actually. So we live in the countryside and so much of the animals i i depict our British wildlife that I see around my house. So it’s just really nice to go and see and remember why I love those things so much. And yeah, it’s I think it’s just like getting a bit of clarity about what you’re doing instead of just staring at your sketchbook analysts on anything stressed. So I’m very good at that. Now just saying I’m stressed and I’m doing a good job, this show will get you to focus.

Iva Mikles  

So kind of to find the reason why you’re

Chloe Giordano  

miserable, why I enjoyed it, and why I enjoy doing this and why I want to keep drawing and it’s it’s very easy to lose sight. And I think it’s good to discount remind yourself what you liked so much about whatever it is you’re drawing or painting or embroidery.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Is there a product or service you bought? Which simplifies your life?

Chloe Giordano  

Not really. So I used so few materials. For me, this is again, this is one thing that like the John Lewis, which is very interesting to me is probably very boring to other people is discovering tapestry frames, which are the square roll frames, just because I’ve always worked in a hoop and when I started doing book covers, obviously it’s they’re rectangular, and I have straight lines and the texts and it just doesn’t work. And so for me the finding finally realizing I can actually flat out as it would be as a book was amazing. And it saves me so much time and so much buffer and I can do covers so much faster now. And it’s such a small thing, it’s probably obvious to people who have the craft background, but because I don’t it didn’t occur to me to go find the different kinds of friends and just find a way to shop and yeah, just having this downside of not having a craft background because I don’t know about a lot of lot of techniques and a lot of items that would probably make my life easier. So I do love it when people point these things out to me as Wonderboy. No, by the way, you could just be using a different kind of frame. And thank you. So anyone sees me do something that seems unnecessarily hard work like please let me know. Because I probably don’t know when the alternative

Iva Mikles  

is do you have like go to Resources now online, which is connected with embroidery?

Chloe Giordano  

I’m not really now I think, like so. But I think it’s because I’m not doing traditional embroidery. So when I look at resources, I tend to look at sort of real life references, or I’m looking at traditional artists that I love, I don’t tend to look for embroidery resources, because they’re not necessarily talking about the kind of work I’m doing. I mean, that being said, I love looking. One of the things I love about Instagram, like said is just being able to look through the embroidery tanks on there and see what everyone’s doing. And there’s loads of people doing things aren’t traditional embroidery, and it’s just really, really inspiring. Because it’s not any one place like I keep a sketchbook quite religiously and it’s just because I’m pulling things from everywhere, and just putting my friends and any resources and I use it to write notes to myself about things I really really like. See, there’s no one place I think it’s just picking things up as I go. Sketchbook

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, and what about the books or movies or something you would recommend people definitely To see doesn’t have to be connected only with art, something to love.

Chloe Giordano  

I quite often recommend people. So the reason I got into textile art was I watched a film called The Science of sleep by Michel Gondry. And he had an artist called Laurie Marchione. I hope I say that right. I also have an Italian surnames, it’s gonna be really embarrassing if I did. But she created these really gorgeous, soft sculptures all the way through the film. And it’s what it made me want to start sewing. And that’s why I started. So I initially started doing some sculptures and then moved on to embroidery. So I really, it’s just a really beautiful film as well. But I just when when people want to know where I’m coming from, I’m like, please look at that film. It was so beautiful. And it was just a what I enjoyed is just how free she seemed to be, you know, our ability to create, and I really wanted some of that. So it’s just always recommend on people. Books wise, I read a lot, but it’s rarely stuff that actually seems to relate to my work. Like, quite often people ask me what I’m reading. And it’s like, that’s got nothing whatsoever to do with what you’re doing. And the only author I love that I think does quite well is I really love Yeats, poetry. And he had a lot to do with like the natural world. And wildlife, mostly violin but a little bit Britain as well. So I know one thing, that’s if I had to pick out like one offer that had been influenced my work, it probably be him. And I think he is my favorite poet. So that’s normally normally a good one to go for.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, I need to check it out.

Chloe Giordano  

It’s really, it’s really lovely work. Like he was a little bit he sort of started believing in fairies for a while. They’re a bit strange. But he’s wrote some really like no, not just his poetry. He’s done like some short essay writing on that sort of subject as well. And folklore is really, really amazing stuff. I recommend it to everyone.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, cool, cool. I will put it in the show notes. And if you think about the future, where would you see yourself in five years, what would be like a dream scenario,

Chloe Giordano  

um, I’m very happy with my work. So I don’t see myself in the future doing anything that different, as I said, just, you know, progressing on to different things definitely getting better, hopefully, I think I’m quite open minded to what uses my work can be put to so I kind of look forward to that in the future, I don’t necessarily have a single thing in mind, I want to do for a long time, what I wanted was to create my own book about my work, which I’m getting to do now. So so I’m excited about down the road. And that’s actually out. And I can show it to people and have a much more concise explanation of my work. Because at the moment, it’s quite confused. So that was a that was definitely a goal. And so it was book was. So I’m quite as I say, I’m quite happy with what I’ve achieved so far. And I just want to keep taking it further and trying new things.

Iva Mikles  

Amazing. It’s really cool. Oh, maybe you can do like an online course.

Chloe Giordano  

I’d like to do like a free like in person course as well. It’s just, I do struggle, I think because I don’t have a step by step process. Really, I do worry about people getting results in a short period of time, if it’s a day workshop, if it’s two days. And I have asked a lot of people and they apparently I’m expecting far too much from a two day workshop. And people wouldn’t expect to be coming out of like things that look exactly like my work. So I’m working on it. That’s so although I’d like to online, I think I would rather go around because it’s it’s not you know, I work from home by myself just talking to the dog. So I quite like going out and meeting people and talking to people, I think it doesn’t look good. So I’d really like to do more talks and workshops. It’s just trying to come up with a format that works. But I’m hoping the book will help with that. Because as I say, I’ve got to go through every single stage of what I’m doing. And I think doing that will make it easier for me to then explain it to people in person, because I will have fought through every stage and I will actually know be able to explain what I’m doing much better. So I’m hoping at the beginning of next year, hopefully I can start doing

Iva Mikles  

that. I’m looking forward to see

Chloe Giordano  

I know, I’m really I hope people will like it. I’ve done. I’ve done short talks before now and they seem to go quite well. So hopefully.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And the last question I would like to ask, it’s like, what would you like to be remembered for in 100 years?

Chloe Giordano  

I hope I’d be remembered in 100 years. So I hope my work is Yeah, I don’t really see myself remembering. It’s more like wood. It’s nice to think that my work that has been sold and gone out into the world is still you know, people are still looking at it and they’re still loving it and they’re still understanding how much work I put into it and how much sort of love went into it. And it’s yeah, it’s not it’s not necessarily me. I like the thought of my work still floating around the world in the future. And I think that’s why it’s been so important to do something I want to do rather than what I feel or sell or will be popular because I hope that will that will be more apparent. Rather than just doing this to pay a bill or I just made another one of these. It’s over. This is something I wanted to do and I put so much work and time in into it. And I hope that reflects, hopefully.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. So thank you so much for being here and giving this advice and inspiration to people.

Chloe Giordano  

So I thank you for having me. I was very flattered. I saw some of the artists that you also want to agree. So some of my favorite artists in there, so I’m very excited to see their interviews as well. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

I mean, I’m really excited as well, like how we can inspire other young artists, you know, to pursue their passion. And you have like a parting piece of advice you can share before we say goodbye.

Chloe Giordano  

Um, I, I normally, as I say, it’s just a case of just being willing to put the work in and do you love Don’t try and fit yourself into what you think people want. Because they normally end up with you being unhappy and people not really liking the work that gets put out. So yeah, just do it. Find what feels good. And do that, I think.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, perfect. I love it. So thank you again, we say goodbye.

Chloe Giordano  

Thank you. Well, as I say thank you for including me, and I really look forward to seeing these I

Iva Mikles  

hope you guys enjoyed this interview. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a little freebie waiting for you. So go check it out. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on iTunes, hopefully five stars so I can read and inspire more people like you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to Art Side of Life podcast, because I post new interview every single workday. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget to inspire each other. And I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer  

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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