Interview with Textile Artist, Tilleke Schwarz

How did you get started doing what you do?
My mother used to embroider table cloths and pillow cases, so at a young age I learned to stitch from her. I have always enjoyed to do it and I made the first cross stitch piece for the wall for my sister when she had her first daughter.

How would you describe your creative style?
I stitch “maps of modern life” that remind of graffiti. I like to include anything that moves, amazes or intrigues me. Daily life, mass media, traditional samplers and cats are major sources of inspiration. The result is a mixture of content, graphic quality and fooling around. The work can be understood as a kind of visual poetry.

The work contains narrative elements. Not really complete stories, with a beginning, a storyline, and an end. On the contrary, the narrative structures are used as a form of communication with the viewer. The viewer is invited to decipher connections or to create them. The viewer may assemble the stories and to produce chronological and causal structures. Actually the viewer might step into the role of the “author.” It can become a kind of play between the viewer and me.

My sense of humor is typical for my Jewish background: a mixture of a laugh and a tear. I love textiles because of the tactile looks. I feel that textiles generally have a more intimate relationship with the viewer and are very suitable to communicate emotions.

Interview with Textile Artist, Tilleke Schwarz on Jung Katz

What’s your inspiration?
I am perfectly fine with just a few ideas to start out with. These could be notes, doodles, drawings, cuttings from a book or an image or text downloaded from the internet. I absolutely believe that anything goes as a source for inspiration! The items I select somehow “speak to me” because I find them interesting, moving, intriguing or surprising. Usually I select only part of my collection of items and will find more while working. Creating a new work takes about 4 to 6 months, so that gives me plenty of time to find new additions. I know most people are taught to start from a concept, do some research and make a basic design. But I prefer not to do so, as I enjoy to develop a new piece slowly. That way it becomes a kind of a challenge for me, my personal embroidery adventure.

What is art to you?
Everything! It is very important to me.

Interview with Textile Artist, Tilleke Schwarz on Jung KatzInterview with Textile Artist, Tilleke Schwarz on Jung Katz

How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
I do not stitch whole days but just a few hours every day. In general I complete 2 or 3 pieces in a year.

How do you keep motivated?
Never had a problem with keeping interested. There are so many things around you to get inspiration from. I always say that there is inspiration on your doorway when you have an open mind for it. When teaching I always used to say that any work will gain by adding a least one cat.

Interview with Textile Artist, Tilleke Schwarz on Jung Katz

What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
No specific plans! Just hope that people are enjoying it and are inspired to go stitching themselves.

How have others reacted to your work?
Usually positive. People are often surprised that I spend so much time on one piece and are impressed by my fine way of stitching.

Interview with Textile Artist, Tilleke Schwarz on Jung Katz

What do you want others to take away from your work?
Inspiration to start their own piece of embroidery and allow themselves more freedom in the making of a new work.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
I used to draw freely but started out to stitch traditional samplers. So my art teachers were a bit surprised and they encouraged me to stitch the way I draw.

Interview with Textile Artist, Tilleke Schwarz on Jung Katz

What are your thoughts on art school?
Very useful to learn to develop your work. For me, model drawing turned out to be quite useful.

What art supplies do you use?
Mostly fine linen and threads. I have written a long text for on this subject. Have a look here.

Interview with Textile Artist, Tilleke Schwarz on Jung Katz

What’s your process like?
I have written a long text for on this subject. See here.

What else do you like to share? Interested in my work? Please have a look at my website to see some more, see . Here you will find all my work. Even more interested? Consider to buy my recent book (named: New Potatoes). Via my website you can find a preview. Interested in ordering a (signed) copy, send me an email ( Payment is via Pay Pal.


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