For many of us, making things is a fun way to pass time. But for others, it’s a way of life and a serious political commitment to a DIY mentality and worldview. For designer/maker Yokoo Gibraan, making things by hand is part of connecting her to the many “female pioneers of the early 21st century” who are leading a “DIY cultural and economic movement.”
I love exploring all of the different types of DIY communities within our broader art and design world, so today I’m talking with Yokoo about her path to design and what inspires her online and off. From Instagram and Youtube to online weaving classes and Edith Head costumes, Yokoo has wonderful ideas for finding motivation, inspiration and connections within the world of creative women. Read on to hear more about her knitwear line, fiber art experiments and what she loves about living in Atlanta, Georgia. xo, grace
Where do you live and how does it affect what you do?
I live in a wonderful city called Atlanta, GA. It is a wonderful city for those with vision and ambition, but who do not desire to be suffocated by the often looming ethos and luminaries of established cities like New York and LA. It is one of the last major metropolitan cities in America still deeply rooted in its native character, which makes it a perfect place for aspiring artists.
What are your favorite ways to craft?
I absolutely adore weaving, knitting and embroidering! Anything related to fiber art! But believe it or not, I spend most of my serious “work time” designing. I use many forms of mixed media — illustration, scanning, painting — to design prints and motifs for textiles that I will be using in the next phase in my career.
How long have you been creating things?
For as long as I can remember.
What was the first thing you ever remember making on your own? Tell us how old you were, where you were, what made you want to make it, etc.
When I was a teenager, I had a fashion label called, “Debutant.” I had the ingenious notion to transform pillow cases into skirts! Ummm, let’s just say that there is not an emoji big enough to capture the complete and utter absurdity of such an idea.
What are you making right now?
I just finished an order for Sarah Jessica Parker! She’ll be sportin’ some Yokoo Knitwear on her new television show, The Divorce! I recently started a new weave with the intention to make it into a clutch and earlier last month I attempted to make a new line of hats with one-of-a-kind pom-poms. Beyond that, my busy season has started and I don’t have much time to experiment.
What are you watching right now, and on which platform?
Right now I’m in the eye of the storm, so I’m watching everything I can get my little hands on! Earlier today I was watching The Village. Although I’ve seen it many times before, I love the storyline and dialogue, not to mention the scenery! All this week I plan to watch Autumn Sonata, The Maverick Queen, Johnny Guitar, Giant, and Big Country, to name a few. This season I’m all about 50s Western drama — tiny plots and very glassy dialogue that rests everything on the backs of the actor’s talents. I’m a movie collector and I own hundreds of movies, so I have no need for Netflix or Hulu. Once in a while I’ll venture out and use Youtube. Youtube is liken to your local mom & pop record shop to me. It’s the only place that hasn’t been curated by ratings or hand-picked by tastemakers.
What are your top five sources for DIY/maker inspiration:
Vintage magazines, Old westerns, and any movie that Edith Head designed the costumes for. I also love shopping at thrift stores for vintage patterns, and eBay has some great 70s books on macrame and weaving.
What are your top five social media sources of inspiration?
Instagram, Pinterest, Design*Sponge, A Beautiful Mess and, surprisingly, YouTube has tons of inspiration.
What are your favorite DIY tools?
My Size Q crochet hook, an extremely sharp pair of scissors is a must-have (for precise pom-pom trimming), 0.1 mm drawing pen, and my 7-foot loom that was custom made just for me by Collin Garrity.
What are five DIY techniques or tools or classes people should be trying these days?
Everyone should learn to weave! It’s extremely easy and so much fun. There are many people on Instagram who promote classes, but if you can’t find a teacher, Youtube has hundreds of How-To videos regarding the basics of weaving.