American fiber artist, Sarah K. Benning, has first taken to embroidery because it was portable and affordable. “At first, I was making hand-stitched greeting cards for friends and family,” recalled the embroidery artist in an interview with Bluprint. “They encouraged me to get more serious and sell my work, so in 2013 I opened an Etsy shop to sell the cards. Then I began experimenting with the hoop pieces — I sold a lot of them, but they were really time-intensive to make.”
Now, with her online business in full bloom, Benning describes herself as a one-woman show, with each of her pieces carefully hand-stitched, packaged, and shipped by her. She primarily works from home in New Hampshire, though embroidery workshops, markets, and exhibitions take her out on the road quite often.
Originally from Baltimore, she attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received her BFA in Fiber and Material Studies. Though Benning’s formal training and background are in the fine arts, she is self-taught in the craft of embroidery. “I was surrounded by people in the arts who made a living as artists, which made that path real for me,” she says about her childhood.
Over the course of several years and lots of trial and error, she has developed a very distinct embroidery style and aesthetic. She approaches each piece primarily as an illustration, often abandoning traditional stitches and techniques in favor of bold shapes, playful patterns, and contemporary subject matter.
The finished products are fresh and vibrant. Take a look for yourself.