We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Bellinger and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Emily, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I started my business back in 2008 when I was in undergrad at Alfred University in Alfred, NY. I already loved to sew at that point and had a small stash of fabric scraps given to me by my mother (who was a quilter at the time). As a poor college kid I wanted some extra spending money so I decided to create some small zipper pouches and wallets to sell to my friends and classmates. It was at that time I also opened my etsy shop, hoping to sell to a wider audience. People were really receptive to what I was making so I decided to keep at it! To this day I offer a wide array of bags, pouches, quilts, cat toys, accessories and more! I love sewing and making things, and being able to support myself doing so is super fulfilling!

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
So my main art form is quilting! I use a technique called “improvisational piecing” which means that I don’t ever use a set pattern or design to make my quilts, I create the design intuitively and make it up as I go depending on what the fabric is telling me to do. I consider them abstract paintings, just made out of fabric! My favorite part of this process is choosing my colors and fabrics for each piece. I consider color theory to be an important aspect of my work. The visual effect of how different colors work with each other create such an affect on the viewers experience. I also embed a lot of conceptual meaning within my quilt work. Most of my work deals with themes of nostalgia, memory, intimacy, and the emotions associated with those.

During my formal art education I saw the divide that exists between the fine art world and the craft world. It became my mission to break that barrier down and bridge the gap. My improvised quilt work lies at the crux of fine art and traditional craft. My practice continues to challenge the confines of quilting through my unique shapes and piecing techniques while maintaining the same high level of craftsmanship utilized in the traditional and functional medium.

The biggest thing I learned throughout my journey is to just believe in myself, even when my professors didn’t. I think that is my biggest piece of advice to any other artists out there facing skepticism: believe in yourself and keep going with what your creative gut is telling you to do!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Rochester, NY is such a wonderful place! If I had a friend visiting I would have to take them for cocktails and a delicious meal at Cure. During warmer weather I would have to take them to the public market on a Saturday morning to get some local produce, and take a stroll in Highland Park to smell the lilac bushes. Most of my weekends are spent vending at various local makers markets and art festivals, so I always highly recommend checking out the local art/makers scene! Rochester has a thriving art scene, and I love being a part of it! It’s always a must to do a gallery crawl on a First Friday of each month too, to see some amazing fine art!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I definitely want to give a shout out to my mom, Beth Bellinger! When I was growing up she was a quilter and as a rebellious teen I never gave her the credit for the amazing work she did. As rebellious teens often do, I thought everything she did was “lame.” Well, around the same time that I started my business, I also started to teach myself how to quilt as part of my art practice. I had no idea how much I would LOVE the process and the medium! I have such a strong appreciation for what my mom made now!

Website: https://www.emilybellinger.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mmmilyhandmade/

Image Credits
Julia Merrell Kes Efstathiou

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