New York craftista Linda Permann has turned her love of sewing and crochet into a pretty amazing day job–a career in magazine publishing! As the founding craft editor of new DIY quarterly mag Adorn, she dreams up features, designs and makes projects, posts blog entries, and scouts out new designers to cover. I recently got the chance to chat with her about how she got started and what’s coming up for her brand-new magazine (the first issue will be out in mid-June).
What’s your art and craft background?
I have been creative since as early as I can remember, from drawing on the underside of our coffee table (mom wasn’t happy when she found out 15 years later) to making Halloween costumes and doll clothes as a kid.
I think part of it was just learning to make do with what I had–I grew up in a large family and therefore received a ton of hand-me-downs. I needed a way to make things mine. Also, my grandmother sewed every single dress I had from infancy to 8th grade, so I loved trips to the fabric store from a very young age—I could pick a fabric and a pattern, and have it made to fit me. Oh, how I would kill to have someone do that for me now! I started taking art classes in school, and was quite good at it, so I majored in drawing and painting. Once I moved to New York, I started to get back into crafts. There was a space problem (who can paint in a tiny bedroom?) and a freezing problem (cold weather does not thrill Texans!), so I got right into crocheting and everything else.
What are some of the solo projects you’ve worked on as a designer and writer?
I like to dabble in everything, but my first craft love was crochet–I love how forgiving it can be and how modular it is. I designed accessories for my website, lindamade.com, which was a lot of fun.
I also sent some patterns in to Debbie Stoller for her Happy Hooker book, and they made it in–so I was thrilled.
I also wrote an essay a few months ago for a crochet anthology which should be coming out later this year.
How did you get into magazine work?
Dumb luck! It all makes sense backwards, but basically, I was working an administrative job at Newsweek and running my own website to sell my crochet wares in my spare time. A couple of friends emailed me a posting for my first job at Soho Publishing. Initially I ignored them because I wasn’t looking for a job and I didn’t think I was qualified. But when it was reposted a month later—and another friend emailed me–I figured it was my destiny calling, and I answered.
What are you most excited about in the first issue of Adorn?
I’m really happy with the way the magazine turned out, I think the hardest part was cramming everything in there! I can’t wait till we get the first copies in our office. One of my favorite projects was this circle dress, which was inspired by a Calvin Klein runway shot. I loved it because I learned about a cool thing I didn’t know existed—spray-on fabric paint–and the technique was actually pretty simple. Plus I just saw the dress in a fashion magazine, listed for $2450, and I could never afford that–but I can swing a few cans of paint.
I also really loved our Folk Fashion story (which is spotlighted on the cover). We featured several different crafts (beading, sewing, painting) so that everyone can make at least one of the projects. I think part of what makes our magazine unique is that we’re looking at trends and what’s hot now, then giving you a way to make it yours. Unlike traditional fashion mags, we’re actually showing you how to get the look, and unlike a lot of craft magazines, you don’t necessarily have to have any sewing experience to make the fashion projects.
Who are some of your favorite craft artists or sites?
I have a very big soft spot in my heart for getcrafty. My college neighbor turned me on to it when it was just a splash page, and I have met some of the most interesting, wonderful people through it and all of the things that branched off from it. It’s where I learned about everything from making friends to marble magnets. I miss those old days!
One of my favorite crocheters is Prudence Mapstone–she’s this wonderful freeformer who makes elaborate wearable pieces. I also love the work of Tricia Royal, who I met, someway or another, through glitter. She has a great sense of style and is a fantastic knitter and crocheter, and not afraid of color. Everything she touches turns to gold. And I’m a big fan of The Sampler, which is a great swap-meet-by-mail run by Marie Kare. I submitted some samples when I was doing lindamade.com, and it was so fun to receive the surprises. I think it’s so awesome that all of these independent crafters are selling their wares online. It makes it so easy to buy handmade, and it’s just great to see everyone’s unique spin on the same materials.
Who or what inspires you most?
Everything! There’s such an influx of visual stimuli in New York City from what people are wearing, to billboards, to the way layers of paint peel off an old building. Raw materials are also really inspiring. We have this great craft closet at work with all of our supplies and if I ever need some inspiration I just stand in there and look at everything until an idea hits me. I particularly love yarn, buttons, fabric and scrapbooking notions.
As for the who part of this question, I’ll tell you about two people I’m lucky to have in my life. One is my grandma. She is such a crafty lady in every sense of the word. She’s 92 and she still cuts up her dishwashing gloves to make rubber bands and alters her clothing when she needs to. She was the one who tried to teach me to sew (I was stubborn!) and handed me a crochet hook for the first time. Whenever I go over there she pawns off her old buttons and fabric stash on me. Hooray!
My lifestyle inspiration comes from my friend Mark Peavy, who happened to be my high school art teacher. Everything from his taste in modern furniture to his humor to his wonderful family inspires me. You can live an artful life and love what you do. It is possible!
What’s next for you and for Adorn?
Right now we’re planning on a late fall issue. There are so many great ideas for crafts, so many up and coming designers, and so many cool new craft supplies. I wake up in the middle of the night with new ideas, so I hope we have many future issues where we can show them off. We also have a blog and a website, and I hope to hear a lot more from our readers about what they’re up to, what they want to see, etc. We can’t wait to mingle at Renegade. As for me, I’m working on a couple small projects for some books, and other than just taking life as it comes.
How can people subscribe or find the magazine?
Check out our website at adornmag.com. Stop by the blog and say hi, too! The first issue will be sold at major craft stores (JoAnn, Hancock Fabrics, Michaels) and bookstores (Barnes and Noble, Borders, Books A Million, etc) nationwide.
Susan Beal is an avid craft magazine fan whose favorites include Martha Stewart Living, Cutting Edge, BUST, Venus, Blueprint, ReadyMade, and now Adorn.