Who are you, and what do you do? What art do you most identify with? How and when did you start making art?
My name is Natalie Stellisano and I am the owner of “Nonna’s Needles” embroidery. I make embroidery art on patches and within hoops. I have been embroidering since I was 18 years old, so about four years now. I started embroidering because I knew my Nonna used to be a professional embroiderer back in Italy and I wanted to try my hand at it. She gave me my first hoop and needles. I ended up loving it and it’s been my passion ever since!
What inspires you? How do you avoid self isolation as an artist? Are there places you tend to visit or people you tend to turn to as a way of taking a break or staying inspired?
I am inspired mostly by music, through lyrics that really resonate with me or by scenery. I have started to use photographs that I have taken to inspire my embroidery. I enjoy embroidering water and plants, finding a way to blend the colours of the string to make it look somewhat realistic.
I think self isolation is something one can’t really avoid when doing an art that doesn’t involve anyone else. It is very easy to feel isolated whilst working on projects but I tend to embroider with people who enjoy it. Finding someone who enjoys the medium just as much as you do can really change one’s perspective on the art itself. During the winter, it can be a little hard to stay inspired but in the summer, I enjoy sitting in the park and embroidering or drawing. Inspiration can hit me from seeing people or nature. I tend to turn to my boyfriend for inspiration, since I have taught him to embroider and – though he denies it – he has quite the creative mind.
Professionally, what is your ultimate goal as an artist? Do you feel that this goal is attainable in the Greater Toronto Area?
My ultimate goal would be to sell my art for a living. If I could live my dream life, I would open up a cafe downtown Toronto that offered art classes that teach different mediums (such as painting, embroidering, crocheting etc.). Within the cafe, I’d sell local art, including mine. I believe my goal of selling my art is attainable but I’m not sure if it would be sustainable to do for a living. It wouldn’t be a steady income, but it would be rewarding. Unless I lived out my dream of opening a cafe, my goal of selling art for a living probably would not be sustainable.
Do you believe that shopping local is a positive movement? Do you feel that this movement is being well implemented in the GTA?
I believe shopping local is an incredible idea. Anything that helps out small family businesses or small Etsy owners is better than giving money to a big corporation in my opinion. Shopping local can be difficult due to the price of the products, especially in the GTA. If more people were willing to spend a bit of extra money on their clothes, art, food etc., shopping locally would be easier.
Instagram is an incredible tool for exposing your work and meeting new people. Do you feel that Instagram has taken your creative business in a positive direction?
I believe Instagram has allowed my art to flourish; I have gained followers and met people with similar interests and artwork as mine. Though Instagram has allowed my business to get a head start, I have noticed that in order to keep my business flourishing, I have to post/share/like pictures almost every day! Social media in itself is a full time job.
Are you open to collaborations and meeting new artists? What do you look for in an ‘art friend’?
I am very open to collaborating with different artists. I love bouncing ideas off of my creative friends and seeing what two minds can come up with. I would also love to see some of my designs in different mediums. I look for supportive art friends who have a creative mind and aren’t afraid of trying new things. I look for someone who is adventurous with their work and not afraid to try new things with their art.
From your experience as a maker, do you have any advice, suggestions or recommendations for SoulSpot readers?
As someone who does a very niche art, something that not everyone understands or sees how much work gets put into it, my advice is to simply keep your head up. For at least the first year of embroidering, people made fun of me, they didn’t see it as art. And even now, people do not understand how much work is put into one project. So don’t sell yourself short either. No one will appreciate your art as much as you do, so don’t get yourself down if someone doesn’t react the way you’d want them to when seeing your piece. Your art is for you, and no one else.
Note from the Editor:
Thank you so much to Natalie from Nonna’s Needles for being the first featured artist on SoulSpot’s Meet the Makers! If you would like to see more of Natalie’s work or to get in contact with her, find her on Instagram @nonnasneedles. If you wish to be featured, we are in search of artists from the Local GTA or surrounding area. Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire (it’s free!).
Myiah from SoulSpot