Have you noticed how being crafty is suddenly cool? It’s not just because a few of us here at Collective Hub have taken up the art of pottery recently – it’s a seemingly worldwide return to physical things, to actual objects, to time spent carefully weaving, creating, crafting. It’s a movement that somehow counters the influx of things virtual and intangible and needless to say, we’re on board.
And while we’d like to call ourselves trendsetters, we think creative duo Maricor and Maricar Manolo have a sounder claim to that fame.
The Philippine-born, Sydney-based sisters were always inseparable, even before they went out on their own with their creative studio Maricor/Maricar in 2010. They both played at building cardboard box houses as kids, then studied the same Visual Communications degree at UTS Sydney but then diverged at work, finally coming back together to build their creative studio that, among other self-taught talents (they learnt their embroidery skills on YouTube!) specialises in intricate, elaborate hand embroidery with a twist.
Their first introduction to embroidery was during their time at creative studio Mathematics, where they stitched a stop-motion film clip in 2008 for Australian band Architecture in Helsinki which featured their complex threads dancing around the screen as small band members.
“The animated embroidery project was definitely an intense way to be introduced to embroidery,” Maricar admits. “We’ve never taken any formal classes but have been lucky to have YouTube as a great resource as well as a few very comprehensive embroidery books along the way. When we start a project that requires a more technical approach… it’s much the same as when we first started. We research the techniques we’ll need to learn on the internet, source some good books and then produce a few tests for practice and to show the client before tackling the final embroidery.”
After a hiatus from the “back-breaking” efforts of their first piece of nifty needlework, the pair have been involved in a slew of stunning hand-stitched pieces, among other projects in illustration and graphics. Not a pair to rest on their creative laurels though, the sisters have now also navigated new territory in the form of a creative collaboration with Australian brand Marcs, which launched this week.
“Our collaboration with Marcs was very serendipitous. Maricor and I have been wanting to develop graphics for surface patterns and textiles for a while and had experimented with some new techniques around the time an email from Marcs came out of the blue,” she explains. “They were keen to collaborate on a small collection showcasing Australian makers and artists and we said for sure! They had a very open brief, which was to celebrate summer. They were drawn to our playful phrases and use of colour but beyond that we had freedom to work in our style.”
The result is the bright, cheeky Marcs x Maricor/Maricar summer collection: a riot of inventive design, colour and texture, perfectly mirroring the spirited stitches and splashes of unexpected shades of their creators, making each piece look as though it’s jumped straight off the canvas of a cheeky, whimsical artist.
For the duo, choosing the right company to work with is integral to being able to produce a piece that both nurtures and pushes the creative possibilities that little bit further.
“The projects we find the most satisfying are ones where we’re encouraged to be ambitious and experimental,” Maricar explains. “The projects where we can be a little cheeky and inject a bit of light hearted fun and humour. When Marcs approached us for the collaboration, they made us feel very comfortable that we could create in our own voice. They liked the sense of humour we often have in our phrases and wanted us to just go nuts with whatever graphics we wanted to propose. “That is the dream brief and imagining seeing our graphics on actual clothes and knowing the Marcs brand and the quality of their clothes we were an immediate yes.”
And while the decision to partner with the fashion label was immediate, the project, like many of their others took a little longer.
“Typically, three weeks is the fastest we can turn around a small artwork,” Maricor says of their embroidered pieces. “Larger pieces can take up to two months to complete, but it really depends on how intricate and detailed the design is as sometimes smaller more complex and colourful designs might take just as long to complete as larger simpler designs.”
While Maricar bestows her sister with the label of the more ‘pragmatic, balanced’ sibling, Maricor says her business partner is the “storyteller” and “writer” of the group.
“We have a shorthand way of communicating with each other which comes from having a lot of shared experiences and perspectives on things so that usually helps when we tackle a brief,” Maricar explains. “On the flip side, when we do disagree it’s a big shock and we can argue endlessly over something because each of us is adamant that we are right.”
The limited edition collection is available exclusively to Marcs stand-alone stores and online at marcs.com.au