Expressing reality with threads
Updated: Jul 6, 2021
– with embroidery artist and illustrator, Ina Agalliou
Creative soul and founder of Indies Little Crafts.
A woman with a vivid mind, a kind heart, and golden hands. She is self-taught and has been working on everything embroidery and textiles ever since. She has a thoughtful approach to her art and spends plenty of hours learning new embroidery and weaving techniques.
What inspires Ina? People, things around her, her dog April and nature. Music and books are her daily companions.
Ina and I met many years ago in Amsterdam while attending one of her embroidery workshops.
It was an evening filled with learning new skills, laughter, and connecting with everybody around the table.
The inner child was flourishing. Oh, how sweet it was to be in the moment and really focus on your art, mine was a mini pizza embroidery on a small tote bag. After that our paths have crossed many times at The Makers Market in Amsterdam.
Having followed Ina through social media for years and always admiring what she creates,
I can only imagine how much time goes into her art and the effort she puts in.
So let's dive into Ina's world, her story, and see how she found her passion.
Tell us a little about yourself and your hobbies.
A few things about me: I'm 29 years old and I live in Amsterdam. I have a lovely dog and her name is April. The things that I really enjoy doing (except embroidery) are going on long walks with my partner and April, watching a lot of new series, and drinking lots of COFFEE.
What gets you excited about life?
The mystery that you'll never know what's coming next, but somehow I have faith that things will always get better!
Name 3 things you love about yourself.
I am a very sensitive person and I feel all my emotions to the fullest. Determination is one of those things - if I set a goal, that's it, I'll do it no matter what, even if it takes forever. I'm open-minded, I really like to view things from different perspectives and if someone tells me something that might improve me as a person, I'm more than happy to change my way of thinking!
You are from Greece. Can you tell us a little about your childhood and what you were interested in?
I was born in Albania and raised in Greece! I was a very quiet child surrounded by many relatives. Since I remember myself as a kid I used to draw. My first memories from kindergarten and my first day at school are drawing on post-its. I was a very shy child so I wouldn't say out loud that I wanted to become an artist. But I came to realize that I had a bit of talent when I was 11 years old when I drew my first portrait. As a kid, I also loved animals and especially dogs. I remember at each birthday I would pray to have a dog as a gift.
What was your path to becoming an embroidery and textile artist?
In Greece, there's this theory (unfortunately) that artists are not considered professionals and you can never have a steady income, so until I moved to Amsterdam this dream was on hold. When I moved here, I came to realize that I am the only person responsible for bringing this dream to life, and instead of using watercolors, I started using threads to give a texture and 3D dimension to what I was drawing. So I quit my master's degree and I started to do what I love.
What aspect do you enjoy the most while working with textiles?
I would say all of them because each step is different! There is a feeling of joy and fulfillment when I finish the design and embroidery! The first one is the reward for my search and my effort and the second one gives me a feeling that I cannot describe with words..it's like magic to me! Seeing my design with texture and 3d dimension it's beyond words.
I have to admit though that the whole process is therapeutic and cleansing for me!
Since I was a child whenever I had difficulty expressing myself I would draw and this is following me all my life... I might not be good with words expressing what I feel but trust me I am very good at drawing it!
Can you write about the process from start to finish while working with embroidery and textiles and how do you bring your vision into reality?
It is a very long process. It depends mostly on the fact if I have something already on my mind (then it's easy) but if I don't have an inspiration then it takes even longer. I usually search in my environment to find something that will inspire me and I'd like to express it through what I create. It might be from a simple conversation or a photo that I saw... Usually, it's my feeling that I try to express.
As soon as I have an idea then I start drawing. Usually during this process so many ideas will pop up about the colors that I want to use, the threads, the fabrics. I try to follow my thoughts but not so strictly. After completing this step I'd transfer the design on my fabric (this requires too much detail). I will, later on, choose my color palette of threads and their thickness or if I want to use other textures (such as wool or watercolors) or other embroidery techniques (normal needle or punch needle) and start my work! The process of stitching is really slow so depending on the size of the hoop it might take a few hours but it might as well take days or weeks!
For me, it's a process that I enjoy from the beginning till the end. It keeps me really focused and while working I can say that I am the most creative! I love so much what I do that I can guarantee that there is a big part of me on what I do!
Where do you create your art most days?
I always create everything at my studio. I have all my materials here so it's easier. Plus, I have a short memory and I always forget something and I can grab them quickly. The only time I would create somewhere else is only when I go on holiday, I pack a small kit so I can have everything that I might need! I love taking photos of what I create in different locations!
What is your favorite embroidery piece you have created so far?
My favorite piece is a portrait of myself and my sister. Although it was my first portrait and it had a lot of improvements, it means a lot to me, as my sister does!
What is a skill you'd like to learn and why?
I'd love to learn storytelling so I can inspire other people with my experiences and share through my ''eyes''. Even if just a tiny bit.
How do you recharge your soul?
By spending some time with my dog, she calms me a lot and makes me forget everything!
What's the biggest struggle in life you hope to overcome?
I'm very strict with myself so I would really like to be a bit more chilled in the future!
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
"If you believe in yourself, you'll never expect the approval of others" when I was doubting myself for what I create.
Your ''aha'' moment in life?
When I moved for the first time from my home to Ireland without knowing anyone! I realized I have only myself and I can do anything on my own!
It's important to celebrate successes, big or small. What achievement are you most proud of so far and why?
To be honest I'm proud of everything I have done, as these moments have ''shaped'' my character. But if I have to pick some highlights I would say: Moving to Amsterdam, adopting a stray dog, and starting my business!
Favorite hotspots in Amsterdam?
I'm a fan of coffee so all these are coffee places :
1. White Label
2.Ikaria (it has amazing greek pies and iced coffee)
3. Lot 61
You will be having your very first exhibition this summer! Congratulations! How does it make you feel and please share a few details about this special event?
I'm very excited about this, it's a dream coming
true!! It will take place on the Greek island of Serifos in July. I visited Serifos for the first time last year and I met Silvia, the designer of 100% Greek. We kept in contact and she suggested hosting my first exhibition at the Chora of Serifos. It is a magical spot as it is on top of the island and you can view the endless blue of the sea.
For anyone aspiring to start their own creative business in textiles, what are your words of advice?
Do it!!! Not only for textiles but for any kind of dream. If you love it, it will always be a success.
The only person stopping you is YOU! Search, find the way to make it work! The biggest difficulty is to take the first step!
Thank you, Ina!
Find her work here:
Our very first meetup 2019 Amsterdam:
Have a great month ahead everyone!