Today we’d like to introduce you to Ally Earnshaw.
Hi Ally, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
I will spare the long and convoluted life story for a slightly shorter but still convoluted one. I originally went to college straight out of high school, moving from my tiny town in Rhode Island to the big city of Chicago. At the time, I had just realized my passion for photography and decided that would be the perfect major!
But as time passed and the classes dragged on, I realized that my passion wasn’t based on a career, but more so a hobby. That is when I made the decision to leave school and reconfigure what it was that I was meant to do- or at least something I wanted more. After 3 years of searching, I stumbled across a video on youtube of someone talking about their career as a textile and fiber arts student.
Fast forward a few months and I was enrolled at SCAD for a degree in fibers! From there, I have explored the many avenues of art that the field provides and fell in love with the process of rug tufting. From there, the rest is history!
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
It definitely hasn’t been smooth, there are times when I can release an entire collection of rugs, and it could simply be the wrong time of the day and they can take forever to sell, sometimes not at all.
There is also the issue of pricing and self-worth, and how to price things to sell but also feeling fair to myself and the work that I do.
There is of course always the issue of time; being a full-time student, part-time barista and full-time artist definitely has its complications.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I focus myself mainly on my tufted work, but I do also work with 3D printing technologies to bridge the gaps between fibers and tech, and the “old” and “new” of the world. Though, especially in Savannah, I am known for my rug tufting, as I have participated in local art markets selling solely those.
I am most proud of the larger scale rugs I have done for commission. Making pieces that are meat for a specific space and person is so fulfilling. Making my own designs and art for myself is rewarding just the same, but I enjoy the different ways in which the feeling comes.
I tend to gravitate towards more abstract compositions, but I also have a collection of figures and characters that I have created who live in scenes painted with yarn. That’s what I do – I paint with fibers.
Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
I think it is just really important to stay kind and open. So many opportunities spring up from random relationships and colleagues that you may miss out on if you’re not participating in the culture of your peers.
Not every single person is going to be your best friend of course, but it’s important to foster positive relationships and create your own network of peers and artists working in your industry as well as others.
It’s not so much trying to get the people who have already “made it” to notice you as much as it is making it yourself and finding those people who are going to help you get there and in turn, you will help them.
Headshot photographed by Mia Domenique