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Lindsey Gradolph: Instagram and Tarot

Lindsey Gradolph, known as Lindzeanne on Instagram, talked to Fibre Arts Take Two about her art in a little cafe in Tokyo.
Lindsey Gradolph’s Friday Feature Artist Interview can be found at the bottom of this page.

A few months ago, in a tiny and vibrant Bookstore Cafe in Tokyo, Japan, Fibre Arts Take Two had the pleasure of sitting down with Lindsey Gradolph, otherwise known as Lindsey Ann on Instagram, to talk all things embroidery and living life as an artist in one of the busiest cities.

Lindsey discussed her obsession with stitching abstracted versions of all 78 tarot cards and shared how music plays a significant part in her art-making. We got to know the artist behind the Instagram account during our chat.

Coming to Japan

Lindsey’s journey to Japan started serendipitously in college, “I ended up choosing Japanese randomly to fill a language requirement,” she says, “It turned out I was actually pretty good at it. My professor said, ‘You should study abroad’. So I did. I went to study in Osaka for a year. That was at the height of the 2008-2009 American economic crisis. I originally wanted to attend Columbia University to get a PhD in Japanese literature. Still, the option was to take on professional student debt in that climate or take the job offered to me in Hiroshima Prefecture. So I took the job in Hiroshima. I worked at the Board of Education for five years and liked Japan so much that I never left. I moved to Chiba for one year for a job up there, and then I’ve just been in Tokyo ever since.”




Lindsey’s Instagram account also started through serendipity, “My partner, Ryan, told me I should make an Instagram,” she says, “I was bored and kind of dissatisfied with the job I had before I took my current position here in Tokyo. And he said, ‘You should share this because it’s kind of insane’. I figured if I was going to take the time to share it, then I might as well do it well. And so I researched; this is the filter you should use and the time you should post if you’re in this area.”


After her initial success on Instagram, Linsey suddenly found a new direction, “Maybe a year ago now,” Lindsey says, “Instagram reached out to me and said, ‘You know what? I look at your work; all I can see are the tarot cards. I was completely unfamiliar with Tarot. I had to research it.”

The idea took hold, and now Lindsey is working on a series of Tarot inspired work, “I have a friend who’s into the Tarot here in Japan, and she gave me an app recommendation,” she says, “So I’m really just going one by one. 

I don’t keep a notebook or a sketchbook or anything. I don’t have the patience for it. And so usually, because I need to work on the train, I’ll think to myself, ‘Oh, the Ace of Wands is basically done. I know how it’s going to look now. So now look at the Two of Wands. The Two of Wands is next’. And so I’ll think, ‘Well, these are the images, this is the colour palette, I have to use this number’, Even numbers and Tarot are about stability. The odd numbers are about movement, so if it’s an even number for those minor cards, I want the patterns to be straight. And if it’s an odd number, to have more movement, like sideways or a swirl. I’ll think to myself, ‘Well, I’ve got this nice blue fabric, and it’s special; which one am I going to use it for?’”



Lindsey showed Fibre Arts Take Two, a piece she had with her, “I was on holiday when I made that one, so there was a point towards the edge around here. I was like, oh my god, please just finish this. I’m not a slow stitcher. If I could go faster, I would because I don’t relish the slowness. It’s not a form of meditation for me. So yeah, by the end of this one in particular. I was like, please just be done!”


Lindsey suspects she has a touch of synesthesia, “I listen to a lot of music,” she says, “and when I’m listening to music, it’s like, the song is red. You don’t often start a conversation like that. It never comes up naturally like, ‘This song feels like this, or the song looks like this in my head’, but then reading about synesthesia, I looked into it, and I don’t self-diagnose. Still, I do identify strongly with synesthesia tendencies, especially with auditory sounds and also shapes. Colours and shapes have personalities to me. It sounds weird to say out loud; squares are angry, circles are friendly!”


About the artist

Lindzeanne (Lindsey) is an embroidery artist based in Tokyo, Japan. Her work is inspired by traditional Japanese textile traditions such as sashiko, indigo dying, and the concept of “mottainai” or “waste nothing”. Her work uses only second-hand or vintage textiles to create colourful, vibrant, highly textural hand-stitched pieces. Through her work, she aims to catalogue the passage of time and investigate the relationship between colour and form by making the unseen seen with simple needle and thread.

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