Chelsea Theilmann's vibrant tufted floral creations came about as a pandemic lockdown project and soon turned into a hallmark of her artistic practice, desired by many. Her joyful creations are intended to brighten up spaces and moods either as rugs or wall decor and some can be even worn as handbags. More in the interview below.

Let’s start at the beginning of your career. What sparked your interest in creating rugs as artistic expression?

I started tufting at the beginning of the pandemic during lockdown. I no longer had access to my ventilated art studio and could not oil paint in my small London flat, especially with three curious animals. I still needed a creative outlet and I had seen a few tufting videos on my For You Page so I ordered a tufting gun on a whim. I already knew how to build wood frames and stretch canvas due to my painting background, so the setup came pretty naturally to me. I was instantly drawn to the process of tufting; I loved the freedom I still had with the tufting gun and could still “paint” with yarn.

What inspired you to focus predominantly on floral themes in your rug designs?

Flowers are and will always be inherently beautiful and visually captivating. There are endless possibilities for patterns, colour combinations and organic, wonky shapes. But more, flowers can wordlessly communicate messages, feelings and emotions. One type of flower can mean something so deeply to one person and something entirely different to another. Flowers can serve as memories or narrate stories. They also make me so damn happy and that’s good for my mental health.

How do you balance your focus between work tasks and engaging with social media?

Honestly, I’m still learning how to properly balance the two. I have really bad ADHD and can easily get distracted or fall down rabbit holes on social media. In the last year, I’ve started making little boundaries for myself and my mental health; I rarely go on during the day and have my notifications turned off from 9-5 to help with that. I also stopped posting in “real time” – to take off any pressure with posting on social media and to appreciate life in the moment more.

What do you hope people take away from experiencing your botanical rugs in their homes?

I would love each piece to mean something to its owner or any guests viewing it. I’d love for them to be conversation starters, memory holders, storytellers.

At SWARM Mag, we are now focusing on the theme of SUGAR RUSH. Is there a particular candy that helps keep you energised while working?

I love sour candy! A favourite would be Warheads (specifically Blue Raspberry).

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Chelsea Theilmann was born and raised in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. She grew up in a very creative household: her mother always supplied her and her siblings with different crafts and hobbies to do. However, Chelsea was very adamant about going to school to be a doctor. She went to the University of Denver intending to go to medical school after. She received her BS in cognitive neuroscience (biology, chemistry & psychology) in 2015. Chelsea was also taking art electives and was a bit of a “lost puppy” in terms of life decisions but she knew by the time of graduating that medicine wasn’t for her. After graduating, she impulsively moved to Chicago to see if she could make it as an artist and start afresh. She worked full-time as a waitress and bartender in the Loop while pulling many all-nighters building up her painting portfolio and networking in the city. In 2018, Chelsea moved to London, UK, to attend UAL (University of the Arts London) for her Master’s in painting. Then came COVID and she switched to tufting. And, as she says: “Here we are now!”


Artist/ Chelsea Theilmann @chelslikescats


Interview / Kateřina Hynková

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