This interview is super exciting because it’s with Naomi RAG!
Naomi is a big wheel in the yarnbombing world, so big her work is going to be featured in the upcoming NBC show, The Village!
Naomi has a very distinct style of street art and she dishes all about it in our interview. I know you are going to love her and her approach to art, community and connection so lets dig right in!
**************************************** Tell us about yourself- where you’re from and what you do:
I’m Naomi, from Liverpool England. I live in East Harlem, NYC now.
I am a yarn bomber street artist/fiber artist.
How/Why did you get into street art?:
I started yarnbombing in England in 2012 for International Yarnbombing day. When I heard about it I just said “I have to do that” and I jumped right in. Didn’t look back. I loved the reaction people had and how seeing it up there made me feel.
When I came to NYC I decided to use the chain link fences that I had seen other artists like IShKnits, London Kaye
use so I tried to come up with something unique that no one else was doing. Flowers was the obvious thing, my floristry background and long term love of Georgia O’keeffe.
I am TOTALLY blown away to be hailed the Georgia O’Keefe of yarnbombing. It doesn’t really get better than that for me.
Walk us through your process- scouting spots, choosing projects, where inspiration comes from, how long work is up:
I choose a flower that I am interested in making, or one that is in season for example and then I choose an image from google to work from. I use free form crochet to ‘paint’ the flower with yarn. It can take me months but squished together its probably 40-50 hours.
Once complete I’ll usually have a location in mind, sometimes its commissioned so location and deadline are set.
I’ve used fences in East Harlem because thats where I live and Museo del Barrio included 2 of my pieces recently on an art tour of Women in El Barrio recently. A huge compliment to be acknowledged as a local artist.
Where possible I always get permission before installing a piece. I don’t want to upset anyone and I do not want to have a piece removed and destroyed. I have the permission of the local school on 104th street and also a couple of other spots. Empty derelict plots are a favorite and local people appreciate the ‘brightening up’ off a dingy spot.
Work can stay up for a whole year, sometimes longer. Average is 6 months. I take them down, wash and reinstall later if possible. I have 3 pieces in my closet.
What do you do with your art after it comes down?
Reuse if possible. Sometimes they need to be thrown away if they’re beyond repair. I have 100 of the 650 blossom flowers from Sakura Tree on my bedroom wall. Some were reused in a guerrilla gallery exhibition but the rest had to be thrown. I will re use pieces as much as I can.
Especially when they’re contributions from all over the world. Each piece has a story. We are connected and I remember everyone involved and the notes they sent me and how much it meant to them to be involved.
What’s your favourite project?
The next one
Tell us about the NBC project.
I can’t tell you, its a secret.
Lips Sealed Yarnbomb!
It airs early April. But I am very happy to make a new friend, Make More Fresh (aka Chelsea).
She did the original Heart for the show and I missed the email on that one so I was eager to find out who did it. As soon as she posted about it I messaged her to find out more.
I’m so glad to connect with her and to see her work on the big screen. We hope to collaborate in ‘real life’ so watch out NYC!!
What’s next or what’s your dream project?
I have just received a grant from LMCC (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council) for a large mural which I’m working on right now and collaborating with other crochet artists as there’s so many small pieces.
Watch out for that to hit in July 2019. It will be up for a year.
The dream is to be working within my neighborhood and alongside my neighbors much more.
I find people who crochet in local high schools, senior centers, parents at nursery, all around me. I would like to invest more time sitting down with them and working on a piece together.
What advice would you give to the next generation of yarny street art enthusiasts?
Collaborate, be generous and original and ALWAYS credit others.
Anything else you’d like share?
I just completed my first knitted sweater. I have a new respect for knitters of clothing. It was tough and took a lot of time but the buzz of making it yourself is unbeatable.
How great is she!? Naomi is the kind of street artist every community hopes for! I took so much from this interview but what stands out the most is how grounded she is-shining even more light and meaning on the floristry connection.
And just in case you need another reason to be impressed and inspired, Naomi has four kids! This is absolutely boggling my new-mom mind!
Thank you Naomi! I’m ever so grateful for your art, contribution to the world and for taking the time to share with us!
Be sure to follow Naomi on Instagram and her blog to see her latest art and get the inside scoop on the big Village-show reveal! Woop woop, I’m excited!