Natalya Aikens’ work, according to her website, is “architecturally inspired and delicately stitched.” She was interviewed by Clairan Ferrono.
Ferrono: Have you always been an artist? Why did you become an artist?
Aikens: I have always been drawn to art and stitch. Luckily my parents have always encouraged my artistic endeavors. It was a series of life events that propelled me into being an artist though. After a career in fashion and a career in costume for film and television, I became a stay-at-home mom, but could not stay away from fabric and creating. Before I knew it, I had discovered an alternate universe of art quilting and mixed media!
Ferrono: So has fiber always been your medium?
Aikens: It actually always has. I have dabbled with oil paints, acrylics and pastels, but my first interest was fashion and costume design, so you could say that I have always worked with fabric.
Ferrono: Your education?
Aikens: I went to the HS of Art and Design in NYC and then got my BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.
Ferrono: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Does your current environment influence you?
Aikens: I grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia and then Queens, NY. Those places still influence me. My artwork is architecture based. and I work from my own photographs of St. Petersburg and NYC. My current environment is suburbia. I don’t believe it’s influencing me now as I am so close to Manhattan and am still working with architectural imagery. But who know it may be already influencing my future work!
Ferrono: What and/or who inspires you, in addition to architecture?
Aikens: Hardworking artists in any medium inspire me. I love reading about how someone works and makes breakthroughs. My circle of friends in the art quilt world inspires me, as we watch each other explore our passions and grow.
Ferrono: What techniques do you use?
Aikens: Collage and Photoshop mainly. Thread painting and hand-stitching are my favorites. A bit of paint thrown in occasionally.
Ferrono: How do you handle the business side of art? Do you have gallery representation? Do you teach?
Aikens: That’s an ever changing process. I sell my work through Artful Home online, my own website and occasionally Etsy. I’m still trying to find the right venue for selling my work. I teach a few times a year also.
Ferrono: How has your work changed over the years?
Aikens: I think it’s inevitable for ones work to change over the years. Usually one is always growing as an artist. For me, I think my work has gotten looser and freer. And probably even more intuitive.
Ferrono: What are you working on now?
Aikens: I always have several things in the works. I am finishing up a few small pieces made from recycled fibers that will part of a town wide show of local artists in Chappaqua, NY in June. And I’m just starting to work on a couple of large pieces that have been in my head for a while. I always want to work large after working small. I think these will be 6 or 7 feet… large… we’ll see!
Ferrono: Where do you see your work heading?
Aikens: I see myself doing a variety of things. I would love an opportunity to do an environmentally based installation. I would love to find ways to incorporate more recycled fibers in my work and do it better.
You can see more of Natalya’s work at: