Eric Coppinger

I met Eric through his Instagram @knitsbyed. The day I found his work he also discovered mine which lead to an active Insta-friendship. Over the next several months we would comment and like what the other was up to. Then one day, we both messaged each other through different online platforms about doing an art trade. That conversation lead to this here article!

How long have you been knitting for?
I first started knitting as a hobby in 2010. Then in 2011, I began using my skills to create knitted soft sculptures. I opened my Etsy shop in 2012.Do you have any knitting idols?
I don’t know if I would say I have any specific knitting idols, but I am inspired by many different types of artists everyday. I have several that I look up to and respect, but if I had to choose, Elizabeth Zimmermann has had a huge influence in honing my knitting skills. I can really relate to her nonchalant attitude about knitting. And if it wasn’t for her techniques, I would not be as efficient of a knitter as I am today. She’s a huge advocate of continental knitting which is the fastest way to knit. I also owe a lot of my artistic inspiration to Hansi Singh’s amigurumi. If not for her imagination, I would not have known the unlimited possibilities of this form of art . Her creatures really pushed the limits of knitting and her work inspired me to do the same.Your knitted sculptures are riding a line between craft and fine art, how do you view your work?
I view it in much the same way. When you see a knitted piece, of any kind, it’s hard not to think “craft.” I tend to look at knitting as a materiel just like any other fabric or even clay. It is just one part of the whole sculpture. When I am making, I am sculpting, but the materials I use are a tad less traditional.

You seem to be really interested in marine life and some of your proceeds go to helping preserve them. Can you tell me more about this?
Growing up, my family never took a vacation to the ocean. I always loved animals and as a kid would watch underwater documentaries on television. I thought the creatures were so alien, like nothing I had ever seen before. I didn’t visit the ocean until I was an adult and it was breathtaking.

I feel like the ocean is the earth’s life. If we do not take care of it, we are doomed. Mankind has been to the moon, but still knows very little about the bottom of the sea. It’s just very inspirational; full of mystery, fantasy, and folklore.

Do you work with concepts in mind, it almost seems like your knitted sculptures are specimen, they have a scientific realism to them. Can you speak more about this?
I am always looking for creatures of interest to turn into knitted works. I do call them specimens quite often and sometimes my studio feels like a museum. I keep an ongoing list of animals I want to create. Most often I make creatures that I get the same request for over and over again; or I may find a beautiful yarn or fabric that would be perfect for a certain creature. I start sketching and come up with how I am going to create the piece (what parts will be knitted, made from fabric or papermache, etc…) I love seeing how realistic I can make a creature. I research every aspect of the animal I am making before I start to knit. I usually take the exact proportions from photographs and scientific drawings. People often call my work cute, and that’s okay if some interpret it in that way, but I also want people to stop and realize these are real creatures that need our help to survive. The things we do, things we don’t even realize, are destroying our planet and all of the creatures in it. We have to get back to nature, respect it and appreciate it. We will be better off for it.

How did you get started on Instagram?
I started a personal account on Instagram way back when it first came out and loved it. I started seeing artists and businesses using it and thought I should do the same. It was when everyone thought you should have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and every other social media outlet out there. I think Instagram works really well for artists because it is so visual. You can share so much of your process quite easily and effectively.

How has instagram been for you professionally?
Instagram has been wonderful for my business and art. Most of my sales come from there. It is great being able to share your work with so many people. It is so convenient to comment and ask questions about works of art. It really is a great way to connect with people all over the world.

Where do you plan to take this work? What new areas would you like to expand into?
I don’t really have any long-term plans for my work. I want to keep doing what I’m doing and keep busy creating. When my hands are making is when I am happiest. I am interested in doing a book in the future, and also would love to do a show with other aspiring artists.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
My hope is that when someone sees my art they realize that our world is full of amazing, incredible animals. Hopefully, they will stop and think to appreciate these creatures as an extremely important and vital part of our planet. I am simply blown away every time I research a new creature. We are not alone here. We should get out, explore, and enjoy the things around us. I hope my art can inspire people to do just that.