Cross-stitch, not a skill you would usually associate with the world of Hip-Hop, but if you are a fan of Chance the Rapper, Lil Yachty, or Kendrick Lamar you may have noticed the work of Emma McKee, a cross stitch expert working in the world of Hip-Hop.
McKee creates one-off cross stitch custom pieces for “Chicago’s creative class”, but its something she fell into rather than setting out to do as a career.
McKee started out with cross-stitch (that antiquated past-time usually enjoyed by your granny) when she wanted to make a present for her mum. Realising she had a knack for it she carried on creating pieces inspired by the things she loved – art, music and poetry. It wasn’t until she created a one off piece on the back of a denim jacket with Chance the Rapper’s number three cross-stitched on the back, that she started to get the attention of some Hip-Hop’s biggest artists.
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After finishing the ‘number three’ piece, she then posted it on twitter and almost immediately got a direct message from Chance himself asking “How do I get this?”.
Of course Emma got the piece straight to the rapper, leading to its appearance on the cover of Billboard magazine, and the rest is history.
Emma McKee has since created custom one-off pieces for some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop, including SZA, Kendrick Lamar and Vic Mensa.
Despite her elite following, most of the pieces she makes are for the every day people of Chicago who wear her creations day-in-day-out.
Emma spoke about her process in a video created by ‘Great Big Story’, in it she says:
“My inspiration usually will come, complete, finished, everything from a person. It arrives in my head fully formed and thats it!”
She reveals that her work on a jacket can take anywhere from 50 – 60 hours to complete.
Emma is part of the new-wave of Chicago based artists responsible for what some are calling a ‘renaissance’ in the city.
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In Great Big Story’s Emma talks about her favourite part of the process, the final ‘giving away’ of the work.
“The giving away part is the best part. To see something you’ve made affect somebody, in what seems to be a meaningful way, is a pretty emotional thing”
One of the most inspiring things about what Emma does is that she never intended to do it for money, rather it was a passion she decided to pursue for the sheer joy of it.
“The goal with the cross-stitch jackets was never to sell them or make money, it’s truly truly a passion project”
Take a look at the full video from Great Big Story below:
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