1st birthdays are always big ones aren't they? Even more so when it's a birthday surrounding self - employment. It kind of means you've survived, you've sufficiently found your feet enough to keep wobbling on and, maybe, you've learnt the beginnings and basics to look forward to that second year. Well, actually, Intwosandthrees has been bubbling under the surface for nearly 3 years now, but a certain embroidery, that has been reproduced endlessly for a year now, had a massive impact on where I am today.
Intwosandthrees began by accident, just with little cards and the odd embroidery (but we can reminisce about that another day). Then slowly via Etsy, instagram and Twitter, enough sales were made to continue making into a second year, to happily play with more embroidered goods and with the freedom to explore work I actually felt proud of as an artist. Then, all of a sudden, the internet managed to explode a certain embroidery. I'll never forget the moment it happened, which actually, is a feat in itself as I was drunk. Actually, I was pretty bloody drunk and I'd just got back to a friends place after an evening of piss-arseing around. The Etsy app kept pinging on my phone and so I checked it mid conversation with friends. My face must have said it all because everyone stopped. I cried. I'd had 15 messages and 14 emails in as many minutes. Now, I know, that doesn't seem like much at all, but at that time, when I was just plodding along, it was everything. Someone had re-posted a photo of this embroidery, with a link to my Etsy shop on this site. The messages and emails were so full of love, asking when I'd make more, asking if they could have their own version (I'd sold the original about a week before, it had been popular on Instagram but I never thought of replicating it). I replied to everyone, and made everyone their own version with vintage reworked fabric. I was in shock, but pretty bloody happy (of course!). Then, through the powers of instagram again, and through the love of my loyal buddies on instagram, it turned out that a model had posted the image of the original embroidery too. Wowsers. I got pretty excited (of course!), but also felt disillusioned and a little heart broken. As with so much on the internet now, there was no reference to the original artist, let alone a link or note to where she'd found the image. I know, it's probably my own fault for not 'water - marking' all my photos - but when you're a small fry just making stuff for making stuffs sake, water marks just seemed like an extra job and something that big photographers do. But, I was still receiving requests for versions of the embroidery (and struggling a little to keep up), so I chose to be happy that a famous person had reposted my work, credited or not, it's an amazing thought that so many people could have seen that embroidery. All of that happened in just 3 months. So, I continued to keep up with requests, began pet portraits (out of wanting to try something new and totally different to this 'fucker's' embroidery) and continued making other embroidered quotes, swear words or topical sayings. A year has passed now. In all that time, I never came across someone making their own stitched version of the quote and never even came across anyone using that phrase as a print or card or whatever. However, this past couple of months, people have mentioned in passing, emailed me or messaged me on instagram (I bloody love instagram and the endless support I get on there) about people using the phrase as a print on Etsy, and more recently, someone using it as a template for a cross stitched piece of art that they were also selling. The print idea I kind of got over. The phrase, ultimately, whether I can prove or not if I was the first person in the universe to say it, is just a phrase. I'm not Taylor Swift, I can't copyright or trademark a bloody sentence (did you hear she trademarked 'this sick beat' from one of her songs? I probably have to pay someone now for saying it) and certainly couldn't afford even looking into doing something like that. But, the cross stitch really got to me. In fact, it made me a little upset as it just felt too close to my own work. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not self-indulgent enough or naïve enough to think there's no one out there doing what I do, I never have been, loads of people stitch swear words these days. I developed embroidery and sewing while at college and uni so I've always kept a keen eye on the fabric world and longed after the talents of many stitchers. There's been ideas I've wished I'd thought of and techniques I chose to learn. But, either out of my well-taught good manners or being a hyper-aware artist, I never wanted to step on anyone's toes - whether that was a famous artists toes or someone off tumblr. After a long think, a good talk with a wonderful lady and a couple of days of moping around, I realised why I'd taken it to heart. In this incredible year that I've had the opportunity to make hundreds of people a slice of my embroideries, it's all come down to this one, infamous, embroidery. I thought that the maths of my success was Intwosandthrees + 'home is where them fuckers ain't' = sales/fame/money/glamour/etc etc. I thought that Intwosandthrees can only be defined by this embroidery and that the only reason people found me/came back was because of this embroidery. I always felt sad when I saw illustrators trying to copy Gemma Correll's pugs, or when I saw tee shirts in Primark with prints of re-blogged tumblr quotes, or stitch artists trying to copy the sexy tapestries that made cross stitch cool again or bloggers DIY-ing acrylic brooches that artists slaved over. But the original makers and creators aren't sad about it, instead (like Cathy so perfectly pointed out), they evolve, adapt and better themselves. They make something bigger, something better, something more on point than the last trend and so into the future that others can't keep up. I will forever be amazed at the power of the internet, and will forever be astounded at how Intwosandthrees lead me to where I am today. Perhaps I'll continue making the versions of the 'home is where them fuckers ain't' embroidery every now and then, but I'll no longer feel like I have to, like it's the only thing I can do or the only thing that makes me worthwhile as an embroidery artist.
So yeah, this one time, Intwosandthrees made an embroidery that was tumblr famous, but have you seen what she's making now?