Tell us abit about yourself and what you do.
My name is Masha Karpushina and I am an illustrator, for the past five years however I have also been the editor of the thread, helping my father run the business he set up some 20 odd years ago. Perhaps some of you may not know that fabrics-store.com is a family business. Our OG core consists of our CEO aka dad the maestro, my sister Oksana who takes care of marketing, my brother Peter who is our chief FS photographer and has developed all the patterns we sell, Maureen who takes care of our customers and orders, and myself who envisions, commissions and brings to life everything you see on the thread and our IG feed. The thread has been a great learning curve since I am primarily used to being commissioned (to draw) and not worry about sales or editorial calendars, this role has opened up the sewing community of which I knew nothing of, it brought some fantastic people into my life photographers, art historians, seamstresses, pattern makers, writers, professors (to name a few) with whom we have collaborated making the thread into an interesting publication. This part has been the most rewarding, as it is the people in the end who make the difference, of whether this is a job, or a place where you can have a positive impact on someone else’s life, it brought purpose into mine and for this, I am deeply grateful.
What do you like to listen to when you are working (and why)?
I didn’t realise how interesting the answers to this question would be, and as the CBY series progressed, I realized that I too differentiate to what I listen to depending on whether I am working with text, or developing an idea, or whether I am editing photos, or drawing something I don’t have to think about. In the first case, I can only listen to music, something that doesn’t divert my attention from the task. In the second case, it can be anything – from podcasts, to music depending on the mood. Desert island disk podcast never fails, and as of lately alot of BBC Radio 4.
As a child what was your first encounter and memory of beauty?
My grandparents were geologists, so from a tender age of 3 they took me and my cousin onto the most wonderful adventures canoeing down rivers across Russia, Ukraine and Latvia. My earliest memories of beauty is the smell of the forest, the sound of the rain tapping onto the tarpaulin tent, my grandfather’s hands making a fire, my grandmother teaching me which plants will mend your sore throat and which to avoid picking, the grandiose, magnificent beauty of the land we encountered, high sand cliffs with dark pines swaying somewhere high on top, rushing rivers full of fish, and a sense of freedom I’ve yet to encounter again..
Where is home and how does it affect what you do?
This is an interesting question. Essentially I have three. I was born in Moscow, and the Slavic countryside is still a home for my soul. I return to that land and traditions time and again, but I am also a stranger since I had left the country at the age of ten. For the past 25 years I have lived in England. London is my home, also because my children are here, with me. My third base is California, fabrics-store.com alongside one part of my family reside in LA, so this too has been home since the age of 11, with the joy of running trails in canyons, and the smell of the desert heat, and listening to dad talk about the importance of having your own opinion, and memories that run deep. Out of all three London has shaped me the most, perhaps. A cauldron of communities living amongst one another, where you absolutely can belong amongst those who think alike, regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, or religious views. This cannot be said for other towns across the UK, and with the Brexit breathing down our necks it’s hard to tell which way the society will sway, but the notion that everyone is equal, everyone is an individual I learned living in this city.
Name a book that you’ve recently read which inspired you and why?
Probably the book that most inspired me as of lately is Brene Brown’s ‘Daring greatly’. Brene is a shame and guilt researcher and this book primarily talks about the role vulnerability plays in our life. Vulnerability is our best measure of courage she writes, because no act of courage is without risk or uncertainty. She inspired me to be more honest and brave with facing myself and the outside world, which up close means every interaction you encounter through your days, the decisions you choose to make, where you stand with your truth- do you dare to speak it, or do you stay quiet behind denial, in the comfort of ignorance. No true connection to another human can happen without allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
Who are your muses and inspiration?
My children who again and again show me what it means to be courageous, and forgiving, and the women who I am so honored to call my friends, who are there with me every day in my life.
Do you have a community of crafters/ makers around you or do you find you are on your own?
I am incredibly lucky for I live in a city full of creativity fuelled by constant daring ideas, and the people around me come from all kinds of creative fields, writers, thinkers, musicians, illustrators, painters, photographers. They remind me that anything is possible and to very much lean into my fears. This counterbalances working as a freelancer, mainly from home.
How important is it to make something with your hands?
For the past week, I’ve switched from a decade of drawing predominantly black and white line drawing to picking up crayons, and there is something primal and spiritual in moving your hand without thought, working with texture, making marks that somehow appear in front of you, creating an atmosphere. My therapist tells me this is my soul communicating, so naturally, I’m quite excited to find out what it wants to relay.
What does success mean to you?
Balance, boundaries and first and foremost staying true to yourself. Success to me is making decisions for the right reasons and staying true to your values. One of my favourite quotes from Frida Kahlo is:’Nothing is absolute. Everything changes…’ There is infinite beauty in this notion, that you have to show up for the moment that is right now. This is success and happiness.
What have you chosen to make out of FS linen and why?
Last year I had the honour to do a dream job, telling the story of one family. I decided to step out of my comfort and not only illustrate the whole book, but to actually make the object from beginning to finished product. The journey took me to find out about paper makers, and old school printers, and most excitingly- book binders. The object was such a unique and warm gift, holding memories of the past, so I decided to wrap the book in our FS MIX NATURAL Linen, I wanted the cover to feel really soft, just like the story inside. I thought maybe this might be interesting for you, as it shows the diversity of how this wonderful material can be used and shared with others. More info about the projects and photos of the book can be found here.