Dark Matter

As we are approaching All Hallows’ Eve, we speak to our favourite goth embroidery artist Lucy Newman about tattoos, why handicrafts are having a revival and what makes the perfect Halloween outfit.

Please tell us about LJN studio and how you came to doing embroidery?
I have been working as an artist for 8 years now, 7 of those years working with Robert Montgomery. A year ago, I left Robert’s studio to work on my own projects. I have always loved embroidery and studied textile design at Central St Martins. I started playing around with stitch again actually abut 4 or 5 years ago when I was working on collaboration ideas with Robert. I enrolled at the Royal School of Needlework a year ago and have been learning traditional embroidery techniques. This has really spurred my curiosity and passion for embroidery.
What do you enjoy about it?
I love creating, it really doesn’t matter what I’m making, but there is something special about stitching. It’s like meditation and therapy for me. It is my true happy place. I love that it takes time and there are no shortcuts, the feeling of satisfaction you get when you complete a piece is worth every long night and all the sore fingers. 
You have collaborated with many tattoo artists, are you a tattoo fan?
I have loved tattoos and tattoo culture for as long as I can remember, probably since I saw a friend’s dad turn up with his biker gang on our estate when I was little, I couldn’t imagine anything cooler than getting tattoos and a motorbike, I still feel the same about 30 years later. I love the guts and freedom a tattoo represents. Every artist I have been lucky enough to collaborate with blows my mind with their artistry and creativity. 
We featured Liam Sparkes in our 1st issue, what do you love about his work?
Yeah, Liam was the first artist I approached with this project and he has been so amazing to work with. I love his approach to tattooing and the community he has made with his shop Old Habits. His style of tattooing is so bold and badass that I thought that it would make a perfect juxtaposition to delicate ‘sweet’ embroidery.  
What do you think contributes to making old handicrafts like embroidery and knitting popular again?
I think that embroidery is having a revival due to people’s frustration with constantly being plugged into technology and throw-away culture. I think people are feeling the need to be connected to something in a solid way. Making something that takes time and patience rather than buying something that will be just rubbish in 5 minutes. I think that social media also has a part to play in popularising embroidery, as people want to show off how creative and cleaver they are. I know I do! 
What would be your dream collaboration or artist to get on board?
I have been so lucky that everyone I have asked so far has been so open to collaborating. Alex Binnie has been a dream for me to work with as I have admired him forever and, let’s face it, he’s a total legend and I have just been to LA to meet with Nate Fierro from High Voltage tattoo which is going to be super fun collaboration. Although I have been focusing on working with artists mostly known for tattooing, I’m also about to start a super exciting collaborations with some artists in other fields. In terms of a dream collaboration, there are so many people to choose from but I guess I would love to work with Genesis P-Orridge! That would fill my little goth boots with so much joy! 
A lot of the designs have quite a dark and gothic feel, what draws you to that aesthetic?
I have been thinking about this a lot lately! And I’m trying to tap into my lighter side but what can I say, I’m pretty goth and I love all things dark and creepy! I think that the last few kits I have developed are not as dark, especially the tiger with Elliot HellbowI started this project after realising that there were next to no kits designed for people like me and there was room for a little more from the dark side.
What’s your perfect Halloween outfit?
I’m quite bummed out this year as I will be in Taiwan for Halloween so I won’t be as prepared as I usually am. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Halloween. it needs to be spooky! My go-to Halloween outfit is not that far away from my everyday look which is the mother of all goth girls – Vampira. She was so iconic and I only need to adjust my usual make-up a little to achieve her. Also, who doesn’t love wearing a corset so tight you can hardly move or talk all night?
What makes a good Halloween party?
The perfect Halloween party is all about participation. You HAVE to dress up! No excuses! My favourite are homemade costumes that will gradually fall apart as the night goes on. If you haven’t heard the monster mash 40 times then you are not really doing Halloween right. 
What’s next for LJN studio?
I plan to work with a larger variety of artists and expand the kits as much as possible. In the next 6 months, I want to start doing workshops to teach embroidery. 
“I think that embroidery is having a revival due to people’s frustration with constantly being plugged into technology and throw-away culture.”