I interviewed Streetcolor, Yarn Bomber from Berkeley, CA. I noticed immediately that she was engaging and I was thankful that she picked up on my nonverbal cues that I was rushing back to my office as fast as I could to grab pen, paper and settle in for an interview. Once I was settled I began my line of questioning in what I felt was a relaxed interviewing session.
Streetcolor has always been an artist and it’s no surprise that after seeing “Yarn Bombing” at the bookstore she was immediately drawn to the idea of spreading knit art around her community. Three days into Yarn Bombing she started up a blog, which Streetcolor says “was surprisingly easy.” Since that first post in June of 2010 she has been picking up steam and what once started as a curiosity and hobby became an everyday art project.
Starting out, Streetcolor decided that her rule was that she would not put her work up where it would be taken down or create controversy, this was to avoid problems with the authorities, allow her art to last in public places, and to avoid having to painstakingly take them down. With this rule in place she started making pieces to hang up around Berkeley and soon found out that instead of just starting a project it was much simpler to plan out her patterns and colors, especially since she hand spins her yarn. Sometimes the planning is influenced by the places she’d like to put her Yarn Bombing, other times she creates works based off of fashion, textiles, glasswork, or sculptures. She also expressed a tendency towards ruffles to add more dimension to her work.
Now, doing Yarn bombing full time, she’ll have many pieces ready to go that she totes with her ready to sew up when she finds the right place. You’ll know her work by the woven labels directing you to her blog. These labels, which where once paper and would be taken or ruined, give this artist a calling card and many people keep calling. Now, in the streets people will call out “Streetcolor!” and it’s gotten to the point that when someone actually knows Streetcolor’s secret identity and calls her by it she’s surprised. While many people have expressed an interest in joining Streetcolor or collaborating, she prefers to work as a single artist. She however has let on an assistant, The Russian, who is mentioned in many of her blog posts.
While you can find plenty of Streetcolor’s work around Berkeley, CA, she’s been branching out farther and farther from her beloved cafes and bakeries in her area. Moving out to tag art museums and reclaim the some of the feeling of danger and adventure that she felt first starting off in Berkeley. She doesn’t worry about the museums or people, they usually like her pieces, but the security guards don’t always know how to react and the confusion could cause a ticket or the removal of a valued art piece. The branching out isn’t the only thing new for Streetcolor she also has been receiving requests for commissioned pieces which will help her make a name for herself as a Yarn Bombing artist outside Berkeley.
We spoke about Yarn Bombing as a whole she feels that this is only the beginning. There is an attraction for both the younger and older generations, the younger ones think that its “funny and cool and like graffiti” the older ones are “delighted to see it done” and relate to it. This closing of the generation gap is caused by the merging of two very old arts, graffiti and knitting, these art forms which have been around and adapted to society through time to finally be merged. Not only is this appropriate for all ages but it is also egged on by the DIY movement and furthered by books like “Yarn Bombing” and the countless blogs people create. Streetcolor states that, “things are now being democratized anyone can write, make a movie and make art. Now anyone can knit and put it out there.”
From this interview I felt a great love of art and really learned from listening about her experiences. If there are more Yarn Bombers with as much spark and drive as Streetcolor, which I’m sure there are, Yarn Bombing won’t die down anytime soon. It seems to be an art in it’s infancy and it will be extremely exciting to see where the excitement takes this art in the future.