“I think I say ‘yes’ too easily” – embroiderer Danielle Clough

Ad feature: In partnership with Design Indaba, Cape Town’s festival of creativity, Design Week is highlighting the work of a series of South African creatives over the coming weeks.

In this piece, we talk to embroidery designer Danielle Clough.

Danielle C - STEVE2-FULL

Cape Town-based  Danielle Clough spends her time between photography, graphic design, embroidery and being a video jockey. Her most recent creative investment – embroidering – secured her a spot in the Design Indaba 2016 Emerging Creative programme.

Design Week: How would you describe your background and your work?

Danielle Clough: I studied art direction and graphic design at Red and Yellow School of advertising. Currently, I work as a designer for a company called Mama Money. I also design book covers and do layout on a freelance basis. Besides this I’m also an embroiderer and a VJ (video jockey) for various artists and events.

DW: How do you manage your time between all these fields of work and interests?

DC: I think I say “yes” too easily. Then, from a fear of disappointing people, I’m forced to figure out how to make it all work. I’m fortunate that all the people I work with are accommodating and kind. I think I’ve been good at choosing the right people and projects to work with.

DW: How did you get into embroidery?

DC: It started while I was studying. I made plush toys for extra money, so I always had the thread and felt around. I started “drawing” on scrap piece of felt with thread and really enjoyed it. I kept doing these “thread sketches” – which lead to embroidering them.

DW: How was the idea of embroidery in rackets born?

DC: A friend showed me simple hearts woven into a racket and I took it as a challenge. It started with flowers because I figured it would be the easiest thing to experiment with. I became hooked on the colour and depth possibilities I could achieve with these flowers and took it from there.

DW: Is embroidery time-consuming? How long would you say does an average flower racket piece takes?

DC: It’s really time-consuming. It varies depending on the detail. It’s hard to quantify because I always travel with a backpack full of threads and I sew when and where I can. It is not a like a nine-to-five job.

DW: Are there specific materials or thread you choose over others?

DC: I don’t discriminate when it comes to threads. I used wool, tapestry and embroidery floss. I’ve learned a lot through trial and error.

DW: What are some the biggest pitfalls you have encountered with embroidery?

DC: The hardest thing is the disappointment of a piece that you’ve spent hours on and it just doesn’t work. Deciding whether to toss it or keep going can be so disheartening.

DW: What advice would you give to others looking to embark on a creative career?

Watch out for admin. It always catches up with you.

To see the full collection of featured South African creatives go to designindaba.com/southafricancreatives.

Danielle C - poo-2
Danielle C - rap-house
Danielle C - RACKET-POPPY-more-space
Danielle C - paper-flower-racket
Danielle C - ALOE-RACKET

Latest articles

How to become a: copywriter

As part of our series looking at alternative jobs in design studios, we speak to Sam Pollen, head of digital writing at Reed Words, about how he got to where