Art & Culture

Meet Polina Osipova: The Artist Who Embroiders Her Own World

Chuvash embroideress and a muse who set for a mainstream success this year -encourages us with her freedom as an artist.
Reading time 7 minutes
"If I haven't opened this world, which saved me, then I would have a very sad pity life with a boring job."

A 21-year-old Chuvash born artist Polina Osipova is already shaping up to be a huge finding for big couture houses and those who share a love for astonishing artworks. Thanks to her unique (and we mean it) vision, she was recently requested to work with Gucci. But there is more that we can be proud of. Her idea of limelight on folk motives makes our heart melt. 


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How do you raise and encourage your inner child?

I just try my best not to grow up. 

Can art save mankind?

It already has, hasn't it? 

When it comes to creative blocks, how do you deal with them?

I don't have one. At some point, you catch the rhythm by working and creating something every day, and you can't get out of it anymore. There hasn't been a day in the last year that I haven't embroider. 

Where do you find the biggest energy boost for your works?

In Chuvash culture, of course. Literally in everything native. When I come to Chuvashia, to my village in the middle of nowhere, I go out in the field behind my grandmother's house garden - lie down on the grass and wormwood, and lie like that for an hour, looking up at the sky. It feels like my native land and nature are really charging and powerful spots. 

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Chuvash culture, what is it like?

It's very original. You can talk about it endlessly. All my relatives speak Chuvash, cook Chuvash national food. It's a very small populace. I know there's a book in German called "Chuvashi - people in the shadow of history". I liked the title a lot because it is the truth. Now I'm going to do a job about Chuvashia and Chuvash women. In different parts of our republic, there are slightly different traditions: for example, my grandmother was abducted at the age of 20 and taken to a nearby village "to woo". A guy she barely knew wanted to marry her like that. And in other districts and villages, they were more matriarchic, and young guys used to marry adult ladies so that women could nurture them like they wanted to.

What was your reaction, when you saw Gucci's email about partnership?  

I love the symbolism and aesthetics of Gucci and it's the brand I've always wanted to work with. I know that they have "discovered" many young and unknown talents and I still can't believe that I'm also one of them.

I don't think many people realize how hard is work that you're doing. Could you share the process with us: how long can one piece take on average?

Now when I turn around and I see, that since even a year ago, the quality and speed of my work have changed. For example, the first Balaclava in crystals I did - took me six months, the second - month, and the last I did in 4.5 days. I have many times caught myself that embroidery for me is more like meditation: the brain turns off and relaxes, and I embroider just like a machine - hands do everything for me. Now I can do big works in 10 hours, but it would not have happened if I had not embroidered every day for the past few years. 

What was the way of founding yourself, your style? And what are the key points of your aesthetic?

It happened when I moved to St. Petersburg and started a deep studying of the history of pre-revolutionary times and the architectural ruins of Russia. The key point is sincerity.

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"When an idea for a new piece comes to mind and you can't think about anything else, you need to implement it right here and now."

As we know, you're a big fan of vintage! Where was the best vintage you have ever found? What are your beloved pieces in a wardrobe?

OH YES! I only buy vintage stuff. New things don't evoke any emotion in me. It's a pity that the vintage market is poorly developed in Russia, because of the tragedies that happened in the XX century (Soviet Union). My best friend has a vintage shop in St. Petersburg that brings things from Finland and Sweden. I found the best vintage on the flea markets, for example, I have some Gianni Versace bags and centenary dresses - all bought for a penny. 

What is the coolest part of your work?

When an idea for a new piece comes to mind and you can't think about anything else, you need to implement it right here and now. I remember when I came up with pearl ribs, I was lying on the bed with stomach pain and couldn't move. My boyfriend ran for foil, paint, and painkillers. Because the ribs of the pearls were in my head, and that's it. I had to start making them at that very moment until the idea went away.

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Frankly, we adore your style and your way of expression. What advice can you give to a young generation facing fear to speak about themselves openly?

To think about what's scary not now, but when time passes and you realize that you never represented yourself, as you wanted, or were not who you really are.

Your thoughts on people copying your works?

Every piece and every work, that I made is like a child for me. It's my baby. At first, I was very sensitive and upset because of those who copied my works. It seemed like these people were trying to steal part of me. At one point, there were lots of them so I got used to it. Now that's just ridiculous. 

Artists/ people in the art sphere who influence you?

Early Grimes. I've been in love with Filip Custic for a long time, he's insanely cool. 

If not embroidery, what do you think you'd be doing?

I want to answer as one of my friends said, "If I was not an artist, I would probably rob houses.” I'll try to explain: I'm from a very bad district in a very small town. In 9th grade, almost all my classmates were registered, two were sitting in jail. Probably if I would not embroider and was not an artist. If I haven't opened this world, which saved me, then I would have a very sad pity life with a boring job.

What are you working on now?

Now I will start a big project about Chuvashia and Chuvash women. I want to organize the first exhibition. So I am currently looking for a gallery with which I can work. I want to grow from a good craftsman to an artist.

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Photo: Mary Inkova

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