Florida artist Erin Bassett makes stunning sculptural and wearable fiber art. We interviewed her about her studio work and becoming a full-time artist.
ABI: Tell us about your sculptural fiber work.
EB: Using the technique of Shibori, I manipulate yards of silk fabric into intricate forms of varying sizes by securing the fabric around metal and glass objects. After heat is applied and the objects are removed, a landscape of shapes is created for the eye to explore. In order to expose the parts of the unseen fabric I find interesting throughout the making process, I document the structures through photography. The manipulation of lighting, scale and color abstracts the digital representations. The physically manipulated silk is presented with the printed fabric creating a seamless back and forth flow from the 3D fabric to 2D images.
The fabric and images bloom and retreat, protrude and flatten, allowing the sculpted silk and the images to interact, creating a visual playground.
ABI: How did you get involved with making wearables, and how are you selling them?
After starting with wall art, I wanted to explore the shibori technique on the human form. These versatile and fun works of art are a real conversation piece that accessorizes any outfit, from the boardroom to a night on the town. I have created a variety of styles and price points so there is something for everyone. I sell my wearable art through my studio, at in person events, on my website, and in several museum shops. I feel like I have the best clients in the world when I show them my work and they start gushing over how much they love my creations.
ABI: What benefits did you realize from the Arts Business Institute workshop that you attended?
EB: I learned so much from the ABI workshop! I had several light bulb moments where I thought “That’s genius…why didn’t I think of that, it’s so simple!” It covered so many areas, from website to gallery relationships to resources to sell work. Some items I was able to say, “check”, I’ve got that covered already and others that I added to my to-do list. Plus, I met a network of other artists that I am still in contact with. I would definitely recommend the ABI workshop to anyone interested in taking his or her work to the next level.
ABI: How has the transition to full-time artist worked out for you?
EB: Becoming a full-time artist has been a lifelong dream. Working for other people was suffocating, frustrating, and debilitating. I didn’t even realize how unhappy I had become until I quit my job and started my own company, Aperture Arts, LLC. All of the sudden, a giant weight had been lifted and it felt like my soul had been awakened. Now, I get to be creative everyday, share my love of textiles with amazing clients and see the direct results of my own hard work. I’m not saying I don’t have stressful days; it’s just a different kind of stress!
The absolute best part of working for myself is the ability to make my own schedule that includes being a caregiver to my mother who struggles with Alzheimer’s symptoms. The work I create has a memory, it keeps the shape I imprint on it. I find this connection to be a sign that I am doing what I am meant to do. I have found my purpose and I want to share it with the world, therefore I donate 10% of my proceeds to Alzheimer’s research.