For Polina Laamanen @polalab, experimentation of different techniques is at the heart of how to find your own style. For as long as she can remember she has been trying all kinds of crafts, whether it be knitting, crocheting, sewing or jewellery. But it wasn’t until a few years ago, when she went to a threadpainting workshop in Russia that she fell in love with the medium.
Even though she knew from a young age that she wanted to spend her life creating, she studied chemical engineering and later worked at a corporate job in St Petersburg before realising her dream. When she finally announced in 2015 that she was going to quit her job, move to a small town and begin to work on her passion, many people around her thought that she was completely crazy. “You will go to nowhere”, they told her and; “How can you give up a job with a stable salary?”
These are probably two of the most frequently asked questions that we all receive when we’re just starting out. It makes it difficult to find the courage to actually take the final leap and make a change happen. However, it isn’t as easy as just saying that you will quit. Polina points out that for many, especially those who thought she was crazy to quit, didn’t know what they wanted to do else. They didn’t have a passion to pursue, which also made it more difficult for them to visualise how someone else could have another reality.
How can you find your passion and style?
Polina wishes to encourage everyone to try many different things. It isn’t until you try something that you can know if it’s for you or not. Because it’s one thing to sit at home and think that you want another life for yourself, but it’s another to actually go out and try to build something. This is the same reasoning that applies to finding your own style.
Thanks to the fact that she has practised so many different crafts, she is now able to combine various techniques and develop a style that she feels to be authentic to herself. She also finds that to repeat the same design many times can help you better see advancement and improvement of your work. It is not a secret that practise makes perfect.
The benefit of mastering multiple mediums, is that you will feel less restricted with your art practise. In addition to your preferred medium for your “official art”, you can have a creative outlet as a hobby as well. For Polina that means sewing shirts to her husband on her time off, whereas for me it involved knitting or crocheting. One thing doesn’t have to exclude the other, which is an incredibly liberating feeling.
“It’s a process to learn how to make art that looks the way you want”.
There are no quick fixes to find your own style. It is none but yourself who can spend the time and effort experimenting and doing. Charles and I would even dare to argue that to find your style is a life-long process. Because as you develop as a person, so will your artistry develop with time as well. And that’s ok. That’s even more than ok.
It’s easy to feel hung up on the idea that you have to realise your style before you can become a real artist, when the most important is just to get started creating. Polina recalls how she decided that she would only post pictures with a white background on her Instagram. But she quickly realised that it created a huge barrier for her creativity. Since then she has reversed to the principle of “just get to it”, and now looks at her Instagram page more as a blog.
“If you are in a nice place today and you get some good pictures, you should feel free to post them right away. Because that’s how you keep your feed fresh, personal and up to date”, she says.
Find your tribe
As many other creatives, Polina works alone from home. But when we asked her how she manages to not have colleagues she immediately said that she in fact rarely works alone. She has found likeminded artists and creators online, with whom she spends hours and hours on Skype.
“The fact of having someone on the screen working, makes you motivated to keep working as well”, she explains.
This made me think of another recent interview with embroidery artist Emillie Ferris, who also talked about having Instagram colleagues as her greatest support. Though Emillie doesn’t necessarily have Skype talks as Polina, she has still managed to find her tribe in the online community that continuously encourages her to keep up the good work.
Don’t fear sharing
Lastly we touch upon the issue of copyrighting when you release digital products. Last year Polina released an online video course in Russia, which she discovered had been stolen online shortly after the release. This risk is unfortunately very real both in Russia and the rest of the world. And it’s a constant struggle to know how to not let it block you from creating and releasing more content.
This is one of the main motivations for Nitka. Nitka is run by a group of ladies in Moscow, who’s primary goal is to fight legal issue of copyright in the online fiberart community. Thus in collaboration with Charles and I we have recently launched one of our online courses: “Masterclass on architectural hand-embroidery”, with Russian translation onto the Russian market as “Charles and Elin Academy Russia”. We want to believe that to continue to support and work with organisations and artists such as Polina and Nitka, that we collectively will be able to fight against malicious criminals online.
Thank you for reading along. If you appreciated the article, we urge you to bring out your work in progress, put in your headphones and hit play on the recorder below! Don’t miss to check out Polina’s work on Instagram and her beautifully curated website.
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