Rebecca Juliette Interviews Fiber Artist and Musician April Camlin
Artists Work is a BmoreArt interview series that explores the work that artists do to make a living while they work on their ‘real work’ – their art.
April Camlin is an interdisciplinary textile artist working predominantly with hand and machine embroidery, needlepoint, and digital fabric printing. She received her BFA in Fiber at Maryland Institute College of Art. Prior to finishing her degree, she worked as a hand-sewing assistant for Nick Cave in Chicago and helped establish Baltimore’s first Fashion Week. She is a member of the internationally recognized Wham City Collective and comprises the drum half of the band Wume. She currently lives and works in Baltimore.
Installation at Artist-Run Art Fair in Miami, FL December 2015 with Platform Gallery
Name: April Camlin
Description of Art You Make:
My work investigates the potential of the embedded grid to both support and corrupt a vocabulary of patterns. The repetitive natures of embroidery and needlepoint allow me to intuitively work within these parameters. Recently I have been working with digital embroidery as well as hand embroidery.
Day Job: self-employed
Hours per week at work: It fluctuates every week depending on what kind of freelance work I am doing.
Hours per week in studio: 20-40
Duties or tasks performed at day job:
I take on a wide variety of freelance jobs, so it could be anything from making a custom wedding garment to hand knitting a sweater to weaving a scarf.
Best thing about your day job:
Working for myself!
How does your day job enhance or detract from your studio practice?
My freelance work is just another function of my studio practice. I’m working with the same skills I use in my artwork, but usually the aesthetic outcome is quite different. It’s a good way to take a breather while continuing to hone my skills.
Favorite job ever:
I’d have to say full-time studio assistant for Nick Cave. It’s not often that you find a job that involves going into work and stitching the sparkliest things you’ve ever seen in your life every single day…
Job you couldn’t wait to leave:
I have had so many different kinds of jobs in my life, but I can’t say I have truly hated any of them. Or at least, I wouldn’t publicly admit to hating any of them…let’s just leave it there.
Is it your goal to become a full-time artist? Why or why not?
Yes. I’ve only been supporting myself with my own practice for four months, and every day I still can’t believe that I get to do this. I come from a lower middle class background and so the importance of working and earning a living was always emphasized in my upbringing and even through my 20s. I have always had a tendency to take on too much, leaving little room in my schedule for self-care or down time. Finally giving myself that time has been really good for my work and for my general well-being. It feels so good to wake up in the morning and go to my studio and just work on my work. To me, it feels like a choice, I am choosing to make my practice into my life. Who knows if it will work, but it’s fun to test those waters and see how far it can go.
What advice do you have for young artists just out of school, in terms of balancing your work and studio practice?
My first piece of advice: if you moved away from home for college, don’t immediately move back as soon as you graduate. Take some time to live in the city where you just spent several years of your life in an academic bubble. Meet people outside of your comfort zone and go to as many openings and shows as you can. Invest some real time in that city before you decide your next move.
As far as balancing work and studio practice as a recent grad? I’m probably not the best person to answer that question because I’d say something like “abandon your social life” or “sleep less” and that’s not helpful or appealing to most people. But seriously, who needs a social life when you have a thriving studio practice?
What’s coming up next for you as an artist? What projects are you working on or looking forward to?
I have a show with Edie Fake in September at Phoebe Projects and am showing with Virginia Griswold at The Neon Heater next March. I’m hoping to have my first solo show within the next year.
BmoreArt is Author Rebecca Juliette’s day job. She facilitiates the Artists Work Interview Series and acts as Assistant Editor and Events Manager. Email her your events + calls for entry : events [at] bmoreart.com.
Photos courtesy of the artist, April Camlin – from her show at the Artist-Run Fair with Platform Gallery in Miami this past December.
Portrait of April Camlin at Artist-Run by Cara Ober.