When we came across Ýr Jóhannsdóttir on instagram we instantly fell in love, and we just had to find out more about this incredible artist.
Can you tell us the story behind your brand?
In Iceland we learn how to knit in school when we are about nine years old. I got hold of it very quick and it became my passion to knit while reading Donald duck comics, so I guess I had this kind of multitasking instinct. I would say that was the beginning but it wasn't until many years later, or in 2012, when I took my knitting needles up again and created the small sweater line I call "Monsters" when the Ýrúrarí label started to appear. Knitting has been my passion since I was small and I use it as a way to express my thoughts and take my imagination to a visual medium.
How did you get into designing?
I knew I wanted to learn something connected to textiles and I actually think if there would have been a textile art class in Iceland I would have gone there instead of to Glasgow School of Art. Although I really learned to appreciate the designing part of textiles when studying there. Even though my ideas can be weird and obscure I always want to make something practical and well calculated and it was at art school that I learned designing structures for knitted fabrics.
What inspires you on a day to day basis?
Everything in my environment inspires me, our surroundings are full of fun stuff and if you really look around you can always spot something new and interesting. What inspires me most is how it is possible to make new visuals for the environment by creating. For example knitting a jumper, a person wears that jumper and they then affect the surroundings of everyone they meet. Now I've stared to work on more sculpture like pieces that I can place in spaces to change their visual effect.
Who is your design inspiration?
My first inspirations for designing came from 60's fashion trends, I especially remember how the fashion videos from André Courreges influenced me. Since then I've got inspired by various designers and artists. Everything connected to the Bauhaus school, Björk, Klaus Nomi, Becky Sloan & Joe Pelling, LadyDi's style, Tove Jansson and David Attenborough.
How do you choose which designs to create?
It's always difficult to finally decide what to create. I usually just end up choosing the things I'm most exited about rather than what fits best together, my work now is mostly just experiments and the outcome is just something I learn from rather than a glorious design piece. That also makes the process more exiting, to not always go the safest direction. I do often end up with hours of work that I then never show anyone or do anything with, but that's where I learn something!
Do you think instagram and social media are a hinderance or do you feel that they help with the creative process?
Instagram is definitely helping me to have more fun in the process. Knitting alone for hours can be a bit lonely and tiring so it's a treat when I can try out some stop motion, video or photo experiments with unfinished material, it also sparks up new ideas! Getting nice feedback and some likes is kind of getting a gold star for work well done, so yes, I think social media helps. It also keeps me on my toes and makes it easier to be seen and share my creations with others.
What are your plans for the brand?
I'm attending some residencies in the autumn to create a large exhibition to show next spring. I'm also waiting for my Kniterate knitting machine, it's arriving next year and when I have it I think the weels are going to start to run when I can finally start to manufacture more material with better technology than my 40 years old analogue knitting machine!
You can follow Ýr Jóhannsdóttir here.