" I was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky and went to school for outdoor recreation in Bowling Green, Kentucky. In 2008, I had a summer internship as an urban park ranger in Brooklyn. During this time I met and fell in love with Van Neistat. I began stitching some things here and there while Van was editing the Neistat Brothers TV show. I attempted to go back to school that spring but my heart wasn't in it. This is when I really began to sew. After that, I moved back to New York to be with Van. We started making movies together but while he was editing I would sew. "
Elsa, how did you get into this particular cross-stitch project? For me it seems like one of those things that happened almost accidentally and got kinda larger than life ever since...
Yes. It's definitely the little project that got out of hand! I began stitching 3 years ago while I was away at a school in a small Kentucky town. While I was there it quickly became my only interest. I skipped out of all my classes and stitched all the time. I played around with various forms of stitching until I came across Craig Robinson's 8-bit people designs - Minipops. This inspired me to create my own, and soon I had so many I decided to put them on a quilt. I've been making quilts ever since.
Do you actually know how many pop culture icons you’ve portrayed so far? And which one did you start with?
I'm not sure exactly how many I've stitched so far but it is in the thousands. I started with the Royal Tenenbaums.
I was wondering if you use stitching as your only vessel to artistically articulate yourself?
Stitching is my preferred form of storytelling. I'm excited to explore it further and have so many big plans in the works. Stitching is my only form of artistic expression at the moment - owing a lot to its time-consuming and tedious nature.
Any complaints from some socialites as to why they haven’t been turned into an analog 8bit persona yet?
I haven't had too many complaints about not being stitched yet. I love stitching people I know and I love hearing people's suggestions. The list of people I want to stitch is always growing and seemingly endless.
Is there any difference when creating 8bit characters of living and dead people?
Creating 8 bit personas of dead people feels different than those of the living. Dead people are more fun.
What makes a pop cultural image for you? Is it all based on the qualtity of an image presented to the mainstream?
Sometimes I base a pop culture image on the most iconic and recognizable, and sometimes it is based on the image I think of most readily. Other times it is based on my personal favorite image.
What’s the actual criterion from which you choose your "protagonists"? Personal favorites or is it about the challenge to translate their distinctive features into this medium as well?
I choose my protagonists based on many things. Sometimes two people just belong together. Sometimes it's an homage to the Greats. Other times it is whoever pops into my head next or which thread colors I want to look at. The most exciting part is translating their distinctive features to 8-bit. I love it when I can make it super-detailed.
Would you say there's a subtle social comment about the cult of personality in your work as well?
Sometimes it feels like the cult of personality itself is my medium. It feels like a common language that, when manipulated just right, can tell many different stories by simply placing two people together.