Art Saves • by Natalie Zee Drieu
In my Blood
Art is in my blood. I grew up in a very creative family. My father was an artist and in his spare time was often painting or drawing. We’d take trips each weekend to the comic book store and all various bookstores that lined up our path on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California. He introduced me to Japanese anime, graphic design, artists like Mondrian and Van Gough, as well as old MGM movies. I became his art student. My mom was an amazing crafter. She taught me how to sew, knit, and embroider. She could make up patterns in her head and I’d wake up in the morning with a new costume or dress to wear. It was like magic. I grew up spending a lot of time sewing outfits for my dolls and knitting them little blankets. But something happens between childhood and growing up, and the demands of schoolwork took over all of my time so much so that I forgot about crafting.
Software to Stitching
In the mid 90’s I started my career at a software company in San Francisco’s “Multimedia Gulch”. By the year 2000, I was an as an accomplished web design book author and a Creative Director at a top Internet agency. I was working on a major brand designing online kid’s games and Web sites. It was very creative and very fun. But then the bubble would burst. In 2001, I experienced the onset of the Internet crash. Between having numerous managers above me getting laid off and having to lay off friends myself, my love for digital design got squashed because it wasn’t about design anymore at work. All the corporate stress started to take a physical toll on me and I ended up getting very sick with bronchitis for a couple of months. It was at that time, I decided to go back to my parents’ home to recuperate. In my PJs and robe, I watched a Martha Stewart episode that got me inspired to start crafting again. She was doing a segment on knitting and it took me back to when I was a kid making doll blankets. I remembered the satisfaction of making something physical with my hands and wanted to get back to that world. Making things on screens just wasn’t cutting it for me. I asked my mom to teach me how to knit again because I had forgotten. She re-taught me and within a few days I had a scarf. I started to hang out in yarn shops and learned new stitches from the people who worked there as well as from a few blue-haired ladies I befriended. I learned a new stitch each time I bought a new skein of yarn. When I recovered and went back to work, I had a lot of compliments on all the various scarves I made. “Where did you buy that scarf?” someone would ask. When I told co-workers that I knit it myself, they were amazed. Believe me at that time, knitting just wasn’t quite hip yet. A few of my friends did want to know how to knit so we started a bi-weekly knitting group called the “Knittens”. Most of us worked at various tech or Internet companies so it became a way for us to forget about work and to enjoy making things with our hands. Soon I found myself buying a sewing machine to make even more things that I couldn’t knit.
My love of crafting and art saved me at a time when I needed it the most. Little did I know that it helped pave the career path I have today as a crafts editor. It’s comforting to know that each day on craftzine.com I can help inspire people to take on a new crafting project or teach them a new craft. I have met so many creative and inspirational individuals over these past five years that it’s hard to think back to my life when I wasn’t crafting. I did eventually find my love again for digital design, but it’s the sound of clacking knitting needles and the hum of a sewing machine that makes my heart feel blissfully happy.
To learn more about Natalie Zee Drieu, visit craftzine.com and coquette.blogs.com.