CAN Review – The world of ‘fiber art’ is one that this reviewer is not overly familiar with, yet there is something immediately familiar and reassuring about this art form. We could argue that it obviously comes from childhood toys, or possibly the hand-crafted work of a relative or family friend who has lovingly created something for a friend. As Jen mentions later on in this interview, there are of course artists such as Olek and Gina Gallina, whose crochet work has achieved International acclaim in the art world. I would also suggest that the work of controversial ‘outsider artist’ Carole Alden-Breaux owes much to the tactile qualities of crochet.
Jensalittleloopy embraces this tactile and ‘fibrous’ nature in the making of her creations, and has imaginatively found a way to combine her love of this artform with NFTs.
Her ‘Hugamonster’ series (please see image above), are unique single edition nfts that also have a physcial counterpart that Jen ships to the collector as part of each sale. An online guide on Jen’s website has also encouraged others to make their own versions:
Over the years people have let me know that they’ve made a box of Hugamonsters for a women’s shelter or hospital, or crocheted a Hugamonster for every student in their classroom, or donated them in other ways. So I made the pattern, but what Hugamonsters turned into was amazing because of what other crocheters did with them so they definitely deserve credit for that.Jensalittleloopy email correspondence
The Opensea collection introduces them as ‘amigurumi’:
Hugamonsters are amigurumi – a Japanese word for small stuffed crocheted or knitted toys. Because each Hugamonster is unique, 1 NFT = one physical piece.Jensalittleloopy – https://opensea.io/collection/hugamonsters
The unique aspect of each Hugamonster ensures that no two creations are alike, and viewing Jen’s ‘how to guide’ makes you appreciate the amount of work and detail that goes into each one.
Jen’s other work includes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich family pattern, which is suitable for beginners in crocheting to attempt. The economy of the design means that no stitch is out of place, and yet there is a wonderfully organic feel to her work.
Another of Jen’s creations is a homage to the work of Studio Ghibli, in the form of ‘Totoro’ as a cover for a milkshake cup. Viewing the detailed guide on the website reveals the ingenuity in the details, and the overall effect is absolutely captivating (amigurumi shakes are an upcoming NFT project).
Jen’s obvious passion for her craft leaps out from her creations, which are cleverly designed for a medium that demands patience, skill and the strengths and limitations of the actual material itself. In a cryptoart world that often expresses 3D via software renders (I’m no exception btw!), Jen’s work provides a worthy alternative to some collectors who want to be able to explore a 3D physical object, and maybe even give it a hug.
What is your background as an artist in general?
I’ve been knitting and crocheting for about 15 years, and designing amigurumi patterns for almost ten years. I’ve not had any formal art education, but along the way have also gotten into analog collage and mixed media art.
What is your overall process in generating art?
My crochet work starts with sketches and storytelling, and my first thought is usually thinking about what would make a specific person smile – whether it’s a family member, friend, or someone just generally having a rough time. Sometimes my work pokes fun at trying situations to bring a little levity to circumstances that make us angry.
How would you describe your art in your own words?
Playful, happy, and huggable.
Favourite artists / influences?
I’m a big kid at heart so my amigurumi is heavily influenced by cartoons, Muppets, and Miyazaki. I’m a superfan of Olek and Gina Gallina, who both do amazing large-scale crochet installation work.
How did you discover Crypto Art NFTs?
I stumbled into NFTs accidentally! About a month ago I was thinking about how interesting it would be for there to be a space for makers to sell their work that ran on crypto. My thoughts were that it would solve some ownership of work issues in the handmade community and by doing so create a path for fairer compensation for handmade designers. As usual, technology was way ahead of me and I found this amazing community already well underway.
Has the digital nature of cryptoart NFTs changed how you approach your art practice?
Absolutely. After I sold my first Hugamonster NFT, I realized I’m going to have to find a way to ensure that the NFT has standalone artistic value above and beyond the physical amigurumi. I can think of lots of ways to do this, so now I’ll just have to grow a few more skills to make it happen and I’m really looking forward to it!
What if anything, has surprised you about this new area of art practice?
The people making art in the NFT space have surprised me the most – they’ve been invariably supportive and generous with their time and advice. I know I’m doing something very different from most NFT artists and I was so nervous about how my experiment in bringing crochet to cryptoart would be received. I finally feel like I’ve found my creative home!
How would you like the field of cryptoart and nfts to evolve over time?
It would be fantastic to see more fiber artists! I hope to help carve out a little corner of the NFT space for fiber artists of all kinds to shine! And also, @BenHaleyMade recently invited me to work on a project with some brilliant people in partnership with Createbase, Mintbase, and Near – the focus is on supporting crafters and makers who’d like to move into the NFT space by creating community, providing mentorship, assisting with fees, etc. Really looking forward to seeing how this project might shape things!
How can access and information to this new field of art practice be encouraged?
There are some barriers for new artists coming into the NFT space, especially those who were not already part of the crypto ecosystem – gas fees, understanding the marketplace, etc. @cloudwhiteNFT was incredibly helpful to me in navigating those early hurdles! So artist incubators can play a huge role in helping new cryptoartists.
You can view Jensalittleloopy creations in the social media links above, or individually here:
Hugamonsters: https://opensea.io/collection/hugamonsters ;
Totoro Shake (amigurumi shakes are an upcoming NFT project) https://www.jensalittleloopy.com/crochet-totoro-shake-pattern/ ;
Peanut butter and Jelly https://www.jensalittleloopy.com/peanut-butter-jelly-crochet-family-pattern/