Thursday 26 September 2013

It Hugs Me & The Work of Ffion Capelin

I was stretching my legs in Brighton the other day and came across some rather nice CD covers for a band I have never heard of. I rather like hugs and who could not resist a band called It Hugs Back - who turn out to be quite fun people. However what I really wanted to know is why the stylist for the band had chosen needleworked pictures for the covers. So I contacted the band and was put in touch with Ffion Capellin, who even though I had found her in the middle of nowhere in the Suffolk Countryside was kind enough to answer my questions. My first question was : Can you tell me why you chose needlework-type collages to express the spirit of the band? Ffion replied: For me, designing for It Hugs Back has always been about creating a series of artwork which gives the band a visual identity and makes people look, linger and ultimately listen to the music held within the sleeve! Upon listening to It Hugs Back, you are immediately struck by the endless textures and colours in the music and this has certainly helped with trying to come up with something which reflects them visually. My designs using needlework are purposely quite random and un-perfect looking as the handmade quality to the work is something we really wanted to emphasise - this also has links with the band's own DIY ethos from recording all of their material in a tiny home studio to the releasing of work via their own record label, Safe and Sound. I absolutely love the intricacy and detail needlework can bring to artwork and by just using materials as simple as hessian, tapestry wool and a needle to create a piece, it is amazing how the subtlety of the textures, colour and stitching can all work together to create something quite unique.

Then I asked : How you go about putting a design together? Ffion's response was : Once I know what format the band will be using for their release (whether LP, 7" or even cassette!), I initially think about the colours and materials I would like to work with and then discuss any ideas I have with the band. Colour is an important part of my design process and I have been known to start and stop work a fair few times until the colours work together perfectly! All of my designs for the band are made to the size of the format they will be using so if it's a vinyl LP I have quite a bit of space to work with and can really build up a piece over time whereas for their cassette single designing was quite a challenge as we wanted to ensure the complexity of the usual designs was still there but had to make sure it was represented in a very small way! I find that I work pretty intuitively and let the design develop over time. I certainly try not to plan too much ahead of starting working....which can probably be seen in the chaotic-ness of the designs - any inspiration or design ideas are very much stored up over time and kept in mind for the right moment. It is also worth mentioning that a somewhat limiting part of the process is the capturing of the work so it is actually useable on a record sleeve (which we do via scanning) without losing the essence of its handmade look and feel. With the uneven surfaces, different textures and sizes, the process of scanning in a handmade piece can be a tricky one but with trial and error, we eventually get there in the end.

I saved my burning question to the end - had I discovered a real textile lover? I really wanted to know : Are all your creations needlework inspired? Ffion said : No - they are all certainly handmade but I have experimented with a variety of crafty materials! My very first designs for It Hugs Back were made from paper and then I gradually looked to other art forms for inspiration. I began using needlework around the band's first album release when I wanted to create a shift in visual identity for their next collection of releases. Using this idea was then carried through for the artwork of the band's second album by stitching brightly coloured tapestry wool onto hessian - this process made me truly appreciate the beauty of using needlework as, by pure chance, the intertwining, weaving mess of the back actually looked just as good as the front and so much so we decided to use it as the final back cover to the album!  I feel that whilst most importantly aiming to create a visual identity for It Hugs Back, I have in turn also created one for myself...which is no bad thing! Ffion Capelin  studied Arts Management at London South Bank University but feels that her time in London going to art galleries and craft fairs and generally exploring the world of crafting and the spectacular artists around really inspired her to get to work. She is available for commissions - she has designed flyers and posters for various events . If you would like her to create something for your event or group, you can contact her through It Hugs Back.

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