This is a story about delayed gratification. A year and half ago, maybe, I don’t recall anymore, I wrote an essay to submit to Uppercase magazine, of which I am a huge fan, when Janine posted a call for entries for the volume “S” of her Encyclopedia of Inspiration. “S” standing for “stitch” and “stitched illustration”. I wrote it with my heart (as I usually do everything) and added some pictures of my embroidered illustrations. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
Life happened – both to me and, obviously, to Janine – and it took a while to receive a lovely surprise in my e-mail inbox: my submission had been accepted into “Stitch-Illo”! I was so happy about it, it made me feel like the luckiest person alive. I love Janine’s impeccable work and I know how carefully she curates anything she decides to include in any of her publications. That made me even happier. I simply couldn’t wait to see the book in my hands, and was delighted to learn that as a featured artist I would receive two copies that were to arrive by mail.
So I waited. I started seeing the reactions on Instagram: artists who had received their copies; people who had purchased their copies. I saw delicious photos and videos. As for me? I had an empty mailbox.
Months later, I received a notification from Customs (wait, what?) saying I had a volume that needed to be processed. I gathered it could only be my much-awaited copies of Stitch-Illo and presented the documentation that was asked. The books were given as gifts by the publisher, and I presented evidence of that instead of a receipt of purchase; still, “there are no gifts for Customs. We need an invoice.” was the response I received.
Janine and her team were amazing, sending me documentation (and support!). Several weeks later, I received the message that they were “appreciating the documentation” and one day, weeks later, I had my doorbell ring. Mr. Armindo, our much esteemed postman, arrived with a volume. He was very apologetic because he had to charge me with Customs taxes and fees, but I simply didn’t care: I finally had “Stitch-Illo” in my hands! And I wasn’t disappointed, not at all.
“Stitch-Illo” is a wonderful collection of artwork from different corners of the world. In common, the resurgence of needlework as a means of expression. As I browse through its pages and read the stories of all these different artists from around the world, I can’t help but wonder how much technology has both allowed this work to happen and to be shared, while also pushing it away from the digital back to the analog.
It’s amazing – and reassuring – to see such diversity within the same few basic stitches: each artist produces such different work, while at the same time using the same familiar stitches. It is reassuring, to me, because it reinforces this idea that expressive artwork does not need to be incredibly sophisticated. And if I do what I am compelled to do, instead of replicating what I saw someone else making, my work will have something unique and special about it.
Thank you, Janine, for putting together this wonderful book. I’m reading other people’s stories and admiring their meaningful art and thinking that this book, to me, feels like home.