We are super excited to bring you the fourth 'Chats with Makers' feature. Every month we showcase a new independent business on our blog and Instagram. Think artists, candle creators, textile makers and jewellery designers to name a few, we hope you will enjoy reading and discovering some fabulous small businesses to support.
Meet Yvette Kissi, a London based painter, textile designer and visual artist who dedicates her practise to exploring and experimenting with colour. We are blown away by Yvette's beautiful works including original paintings, hand made accessories and eco-friendly notebooks.
A date for your diary: 22nd April - Yvette Kissi x LMM Instagram Takeover and Live at 6.30pm.
What three words best describe your work?
When did your business first start and what made you do it?
I would say that I first properly started investing time in my practice when I moved into my studio space at Textile Hub London in 2018. It's here that I have been able to develop and realise the ability of my practice to defy categorisation due to its multifaceted nature and uniqueness, as a black female abstract artist crossing the boundaries of fine art and textile design. I have always had quite an entrepreneurial mindset with the dream of eventually working for myself in some capacity and I'm excited and grateful to be on a journey towards that.
How important is sustainability to your business?
As an artist and textile designer, I am very much conscious and becoming increasingly aware of the negative environmental impact textile waste has globally as well as the potential harmful impact the production of textiles has on the environment.
Throughout my practice I try to make conscious decisions about what I put out into the World whilst preventing and reducing waste wherever possible. Although sampling is a particularly important part of my design process, I have been able to collaborate with Kapdaa - The Offcut Company to reuse my printed textile samples to create ethically sourced, sustainable notebooks using FSC certified recycled paper. This in turn prevents these fabric offcuts contributing to textile waste.
Another way in which I reduce waste during my process is in my textile production process. When designing digital textile designs for print, I make sure to use the whole length and breadth of the fabric that I need. Even if this only leaves me with a millimetre of cutting space between each design (a real test of how steady my cutting skills are!) on a length of fabric, it's definitely worth it.
I also make sure to work with manufacturers/companies that have eco conscious practices at the core of their values and beliefs.
As a general rule I don't mass produce products. In the case of my recently launched Eco Fine Art Print collection, each piece is printed to order on a resource saving paper that is less harmful to produce.
How are your products made from start to finish?
My products, from an art print, to a silk scarf always start by hand. Whether it's a painting or illustration, their foundation always begins in that way.
My current body of work is rooted in my flow paintings - intuitive paintings which embody my passion and curiosity about the subject of colour including the language, cultural connotations and history associated with it. Cultural connotations and nuances that I am familiar with through my heritage and background mainly via the traditional fabrics and clothes the women in my family wear. I believe it was these rich fabrics that ultimately inspired my path into printed textile design.
I carefully document my painting process through film and photography and it is these captured moments that go on to form the basis of my art and design work.
Each scarf begins as a painting created with informed colour combinations birthed from a language of colour carefully developed over recent years. I often hone in on details of a piece and convert them into digital designs, carefully piecing them together to create a design at the right scale, so that it can be printed on my chosen fabric. Once I receive the fabric from the printers, I carefully cut and sew each scarf.
My recently launched Eco Fine Art Prints begin in very much the same way and are a captured moment of the paintings they come from.
What influences your creative journey?
My creative journey is quite an organic one in the sense that I try not to box myself into a particular category or subject matter and tape the lid shut.
The current creative journey I am on (of intuitive painting and colour) is influenced by heritage and a trip I took to Ghana in 2017 in which I was fortunate enough to experience and explore the craft of my great aunt, a third generation bead maker as well as, traditional Kente weaving and textile stamping. This invigorated and enhanced my awareness of the subconscious influence of my craft and cultural heritage on my practice and relationship with colour.
A constant influence of my creature practice and creative career as a whole is my mum. She is an incredible woman who I admire and look up to so much. Her character is a testament to the compassion, selflessness, strength and faith that she has allowed even the hardships of this life to instill in her. Much of what I do is because of her in many ways and I honestly don't believe that I would be doing what I do if it wasn't for her encouragement to pursue what my heart desires.
What was the biggest challenge you faced last year?
Last year was a challenging time for many if not all artists and creatives, as well as individuals across the world. For me personally, losing access to my studio due to having to shield was one of the biggest challenges I faced. Losing the one place I could go to, to escape the noise and creative freely forced me to adapt as I knew that it was important for me to stay creative during this time. I had to change my creative plans as I was in between spaces and quickly went from quite a large space to a small corner with which I could create from.
The silver lining of this challenge was the beginning of my A Painting a Day series which sparked much of what is seen in my painting practice today.
At a time when my head space was a tangled mess of emotions triggered by loss on a personal and global scale, and racial injustice that played out so intensely, my practice and creativity is definitely one of the things that has kept me going, allowing me to lean into the process, pursue quiet moments, untangle these thoughts, experiences and emotions and take things one day and one painting at a time.
Which digital platforms and programs have helped shape your business?
Instagram has been a great tool for me over the past year. I have been able to take part in my first online market (first markets ever actually) and become part of a wider community of creatives.
It brings me so much joy that the process I find so therapeutic and calming also resonates with so many others. Sharing moments of my process on Instagram has not only allowed me to connect with some wonderful individuals, it has also taught me a few things about myself as an artist.
Do you have any advice for those looking to start their own art business?
My advice would be to start. And that doesn't always mean having to launch into the vast unknown, it could mean taking the smallest step in the right direction. I think it’s important to allow yourself to start small and not despise small beginnings.
One of my favourite quotes by Ijeoma Umebinyuo sums it up perfectly:
Start where you are.
Start with fear.
Start with pain.
Start with doubt.
Start with hands shaking.
Start with voice trembling but start.
Start and don’t stop.
Start where you are, with what you have.
What's next for Yvette Kissi? Any exciting projects or plans in the pipeline?
I am slowly working on a new body of work that comes from the depths of my heart and draws on very personal influences. It's in its very early stages where I'm researching and getting my thoughts down but you can look forward to larger scale paintings and textiles and more storytelling from me.
I am continuing to delve deeper into the subject of this colour in relation to various cultures using my dual heritage as the main point of reference.
How can readers contact you and find your work?
You can find my work at www.yvettekissi.com
For any enquiries or if you'd like to get in touch you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find me on Instagram at @yvettekissi where I'm more than happy to chat.
You can also sign up to my mailing list for 10% off your first order.
If you've enjoyed this interview, or have any further questions for Yvette, please get in touch. Join us on April at 6.30pm to find out more about Yvette's work on Instagram Live.