I first became aware of Evelin Kasikov last week when some of her work was featured on Black Eiffel. I was completely blown away and contacted her immediately to see if she was interested in being the first of our mini-interviews with artists, designers and crafters. Evelin graciously accepted. After reading her responses to our questions, I think I might love her work even more. I definitely recommend spending some time looking at her site and exploring some of the other pages of her beautiful books.
Read the complete Q & A and see more work, after the jump.
Where did you study?
I did my BA in Graphics fine art in Estonia, then worked almost ten years in advertising. In 2006 I moved to London to do an MA in Communication Design at Central Saint Martins. I needed a break from commercial practice and I wanted to focus on my personal work. This course encouraged experimentation and risk taking, and my work is very much influenced by that. It was then when I first saw an opportunity to explore a new space and integrate craft and design. I am a graphic designer without any background in craft or textiles, and I believe this actually helped me to develop a fresh approach.
Where are you from, and where do you live now? What influence (if any) do you feel that “place” has on your work?
I am from Estonia and I moved to London when I started my MA. Although my work has no obvious sense of place, my background is often important part of my work. One of my projects involved research into the relationship between Estonian language and Estonian national patterns. I was interested in language as a code, a system that can be compared with the rhythm and structure of patterns. And in a book about tactile colour perception, I used the colours of Estonian nature as a case study.
You’re clearly interested in language, from the shapes of letters to the meanings of phrases. What is it about letters that you find so alluring?
My handmade lettering work is first of all an investigation into tactile visual perception. The letterform itself is irrelevant here, I am interested in how viewers are directly engaged into this process, how blending of colours takes place in the eyes of the viewer, how meaning is made or lost. In further work I have used quotations from books that have inspired and influenced my work. I also worked with typographic colour, the texture of a printed page and the density of text visualised through thread thicknesses.
Can you tell us a little bit about the exploratory and research process you go through coming up with subject matter and treatment?
“Printed Matter” started as a playful experiment: I was interested in how to integrate digital and hand made processes, how to translate the illusion of seeing into material form, the physical involvement with the process. I was inspired by Swiss typography, Wolfgang Weingart amongst the others. I loved his experiments with letterpress, phototypesetting and the way he just used technology as a playful tool to create connections that had never been done before. I was never really interested in craft as a decoration. To begin my own investigations I set myself a series of self-initiated briefs. These were quite abstract experiments about handmade colour structures, grids, increasing-decreasing resolutions and viewing distances. I also began to develop my handmade halftoning technique — CMYK embroidery — which later became main part of the project.
Do you feel more at ease with the computer or crafty side of your work? Anything you’d say about their synthesis?
I always work on a computer first. My approach is analytical: I am not “painting with thread”; I do not use craft as a form of expression. When it comes to visualizing an idea, all aspects are important: format, grids, sizes and spaces — everything must have a reason. My handmade halftone screens are based on cross-stitch embroidery but they are perfectly measurable. What is fascinating for me is the mixture of something very precise as technology and very accidental as handmade craft.
Do you see yourself as part of a larger movement in design, art or craft?
My work occupies the area where distinctions between design, art and craft dissolve. I am interested in crossovers between these spaces, trying to find a new way of looking at something. I do not think my work belongs to “craft revival” theme, for me it is first of all a graphic design practice.
Are you working on any new projects that you are excited about?
I am currently working as a freelance designer on editorial design projects. I’ve done book layouts and covers and I am about to start working on a magazine. I love the process of designing a book: the time that goes into reading and research, and finally book as physical object. I also intend to continue personal work, to find ways to combine my CMYK embroidery with another discipline and perhaps develop some image-based work.