meet the makers | Nov 18, 2021 |
This fiber artist uses an old-school tufting gun to ‘paint with yarn’
This fiber artist uses an old-school tufting gun to ‘paint with yarn’
Trish Andersen with the Mixy runnerChia Chong

While some artists draw inspiration from the world at large, Trish Andersen finds her muse in the craft itself. The Savannah, Georgia–based fiber artist creates kaleidoscopic floor coverings that serve as functional works of art. “I am super inspired by the tufting process,” she tells Business of Home. “Many different elements need to sync perfectly for the gun to work properly, and I am constantly working toward the ultimate flow state. This flow allows me to process the world around me and express the very layered human experience.”

Born and raised in Dalton, Georgia—often referred to as the “carpet capital of the world” because of its 150 carpet plants—Andersen first fell in love with art at a tender young age. “I was diagnosed with ALL [acute lymphocytic leukemia] when I was 2 years old and underwent treatment for three years,” she says. “Making artwork in the clinic in Atlanta is one of my first memories of creating. To this day, art is how I cope, process and communicate with the world around me.”

In 2001, Andersen enrolled at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where she began experimenting with textile art and ultimately earned a fibers degree. After graduation, she moved to New York and took a job doing window displays for Anthropologie’s Fifth Avenue store, before opening a design studio with a friend in 2007. “In addition to product lines, we created installations for residential and commercial interiors, as well as designs for sets and events,” she says. “My business partner and I went our separate ways in 2013, and I continued the studio on my own with a focus on designing and building for large-scale commercial and advertising events.”

This fiber artist uses an old-school tufting gun to ‘paint with yarn’
Inside Andersen’s Savannah studioChia Chong

That all changed in the fall of 2015, when a friend sent her a video of artisans in India hand-tufting rugs. “I was instantly hooked and began hunting for a single needle tufting gun,” the artist says. “I was able to source one from China and then spent about a year between other projects teaching myself how to use it.”

In 2018, Andersen decided to rent an old house in Savannah where she could set up a fiber-focused art studio. “Although tufting guns are traditionally used to manufacture hand-tufted rugs, my primary focus was fine art,” she explains. “On a whim, I made a stair runner rug that looked like paint running down the stairs and was shocked by the response it received on Instagram—I knew that this is what I was meant to be doing.”

Andersen describes her design process as “intuitive.” She typically starts with a rough sketch and a particular color palette, and then “paints with yarn” using her tufting gun. “I am constantly trying to push what the tool and materials can do, and each piece inspires possibility in the next,” she says. “I feel that I am always learning, and this fills me with excitement to keep going.”

This fiber artist uses an old-school tufting gun to ‘paint with yarn’
The Pure (top left) and Splat rugs by Trish AndersenChia Chong

For her first collection, she transformed a few of her fiber artworks into a colorful line of sweepable floor mats. “They all feature a digitally printed image of my fine artwork,” she says. “They’re also machine-washable, so you can get the look of a shaggy textured rug without the nightmare of keeping it clean.”

In September, she debuted a vibrant assortment of hand-tufted wool rugs inspired by her IG-famous paint splatter-style runner. “I worked with a company in Dalton to produce them in their India factory,” she says. “Since I use the same tools as the manufacturer, it was a fun challenge to push production to create a product similar to my work, and I am excited to add more rugs into the mix.”

Looking ahead, Andersen plans on launching a wallpaper collection in the near future, while continuing to create bespoke fine fiber art for commercial interiors and gallery shows. “I approach my designs with a ‘make what I want to see in the world’ mindset,” she says. “I am a big believer that art should be accessible and people should live with things that inspire them.”

To learn more about Trish Andersen, visit her website or follow her on Instagram.

Homepage photo: Trish Andersen at work inside her Savannah studio | Chia Chong

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