When did your love for hand embroidery start?
I have been dancing for a lot of years and then, at 16, I was attending the conservatory in the contemporary dance section. Unfortunately I had to stop for medical reasons. After that it was really hard for me to find another great passion and get into it. But 3 years ago, while I was working in a bakery, I discovered hand embroidery thanks to a tattoo artist on social media. I was very intrigued and some days later I went to buy a hoop, needles and threads in order to create my first hand embroidery!

embroidery art and patches inspired by tattoos

Where do you take inspiration from?
As I already liked a lot tattoos, thanks to my love who made me discover this crazy world, and particularly old school style, I was already very inspired by this context.

I am also a lot influenced by asiatic art, both for the drawing style and for the amazing embroidery techniques. Last year I took part to an intense week of Japanese embroidery training and my teacher taught me so so many things and opened my vision of embroidery. The Art Brut is also another world that I’m beginning to explore, it really helps me to be more free and push myself more in my everyday work. My grand father was a real artist who made totally weird things, made for example with banana skill, milk boxes, bread, apples, leaves, corks…. When I was young I wasn’t able to realize totally what he created in his litte bedroom and unfortunately he died some years ago. But recently I had the opportunity to spend some time in his apartment and this inspired me so much. And of course nature and love are constant sources of inspiration for me, too!

Bertine Martel Interview, cat patch

How do you choose your colour palette?
First of all, I definitely prefer colours because they are synonyms of joy to me. I love to pick them and this choice actually comes naturally, following preferences and feelings of the moment. But the colors used in the Thangkas style (sacred tibetan paintings) influenced me a lot. The first time I saw one embroidery in this style, it was like a beautiful shock, I knew that it would have affected my work and that was the look I was trying to recreate. It’s just perfect and incredible in my mind!

embroidery art by Bertine Martel

What are you working on at the moment? Is there any piece you are willing to do?
I work often, well almost always, to different projects at the same time and currently I’m working to some bigger artworks about nature and love, combining painting, embroidery, and crafting. One of my other priorities now it’s to create more little things like jewellery and embroidered goods, on little series but always one-of-a-kind!

Hand embroidery art and tattoos

How long does it take to create a little embroidered patch? And what is the biggest amount of hours you’ve reached so far?
It’s a really long process and to be honest I never count my hours when I work on something. I spend a while on the initial drawing, and after that it’s always at least more than one week of intense embroidery work. To give you a rough idea I always need between 30 and 150 hours of work to do anything! I love that but it’s also a reason behind the fact I would like to create more little things, so I can prepare them in one or 2 days, because it’s frustrating to do only a quite small part of what I have in mind. I think the patch that took me most of the time is the Kali I made this year. I needed a few months to do it.

asiatic art patches and tattoos

Who are your average customers?
My customers are mainly tattoo artists and tattoed people. I hope that moving in a more little town will allow me to meet directly current or new customers and followers and being closer to them.

interview about hand embroidery art

What is the best part of being a creative person?
To be free to create and explore as much as I want! Learning everyday! Taking part to such a kind and amazing community!  But there are also bad sides, of course. It’s stressing to try to live of my own work without making any wrong choice. I’m also sad to see my work leaves and I feel alone… I have always been an hard worker but it’s not easy to stay confident and not to doubt too much. 

sublime art of hand embroidery

What is your personal vision about art and tattoos nowadays?
I don’t know if I really have an opinion about that, I just love tattoos and I see that a lot of other people love that too, maybe not for the same reasons but I’m sure we all have a good one! Personally they allowed me to feel better in my body and to suit it to me again. I feel protected by them. A lot of things have already been done in arts and tattoo but we are all unique and different. I’m sure there are still a lot of things to imagine and do, if we let express ourselves more instinctively.

I am Not a Tattoo Blog features Bertine Martel

Who are your fav tattoo artists? And handcraft lovers?
First of all my talented love Gary Gloppe! He taught me a lot of things and without him I wouldn’t be here today. As I got tattooed by a lot of people, I have to say I like the work of so many tattoo artists! At the moment I watch for example many of James Lau, Cecile Pages (who tattooed  me 2 years ago), Ian Ildet, Sunwithlove (who is also a crazy crafter), LexyacGuy le tatooer is also one of the tattoo artists I admire the most,  I am lucky to have begun a really big project last year and I will do my best to continue it as soon as possible. Tattoo sessions in his temple are just the most epic and intense I have ever experienced, it’s always a meditation and an overcoming of myself.

The crafter community is just amazing and I’m so thankful to be part of it! Liz Payne, Elizabeth Pawle, Marie Sophie Lockart, Cut and Rum, Chaumière Oiseau… So many crafters who make me dream! Outside of social media I’m fascinated by some old female artists, like for example Danielle Jacqui who calls herself «la femme qui peint», she made embroidery art before spending her life to paint, or Seraphine, a french painter of the 20th century.

asiatic hand embroidered painting

Do you think mixing media is a good choice or you prefer concentrating in one thing at a time?
I have slowly started to mix media and I find that, besides being more fun, it allows me to be more creative and to learn more things again and again. Now I think most of my project are like that.

bertine martel interviewed by Ilaria Pauletti

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Wanna share with us one of your dreams?
I totally don’t know and it’s certainly better like that! But I hope to keep creating, in whatever way it will be. I’d also like to be able to help others by sharing my passion, because I’m convinced that practicing art can help you to live better.


Support Bertine Martel work, visit her online shop.
Photo credits for Bertine Martel portraits: Marie Jerome.

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4 febbraio 2018

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