ARTIST INTERVIEW: Lily and Hopie Stockman of Block Shop Textiles
Block Shop is a textile and design studio based in Downtown Los Angeles and Jaipur, founded by sisters Hopie and Lily Stockman. They work with master printers, dyers, and weavers in Rajasthan to marry traditional Indian textiles processes with a California aesthetic.
Their entire process is manual: they design on paper, print with wooden blocks, and dye in small batches. They invest 5% of our profits in community health and education initiatives they implement every year.
We spoke to Hopie and Lily about what makes them tick creatively, and they shared some photos of themselves, their creative process, and their beautiful prints.
How is your work inspired by or influenced by nature and your surroundings?
We were Nature Company kids of the 90s who grew up on a New Jersey farm, hunting for crayfish, training chickens (RIP “Candlestick”), and making forts in the woods. We’re a family of four sisters, so it was like Little Women in Umbro shorts. The landscapes we inhabit always inform our creative projects, starting back in grade school with Tasha Tudor-inspired stage sets. Now we’re in deep with Southern California, splitting our time between Los Angeles and Joshua Tree. Those two places – from the art deco geometries of downtown LA architecture to the earthy palette of the Mojave– are essential to our design vocabulary. But the exuberance of our verdant, animal-obsessed childhood world is there too; we try to keep things a little zany and never take ourselves too seriously.
Who are some current artists, creators, or people working in other fields whose work you admire?
- Heidi Julavits’ “The Folded Clock” is the sister favorite novel / diary / memoir we push on anyone looking for a book rec.
- Rachel Comey. We had the pleasure of working on a project with the RC team this summer and we’re back-of-the-hand-to-the-forehead, Victorian-fainting-couch-style INSPIRED by her vision: it’s not just her magical clothes (which make you feel like you’re in a coven of goodly witches) but the PEOPLE that make the brand so wonderful. Her entire team is warm, talented and thoughtful.
- Our EPCF pal April Napier’s on-point early-aughts costume design in Lady Bird. Also her ceramics.
- Our friend Sally Breer’s interior design, especially Oriel, the new French wine bar & bistro that somehow makes the deep 90’s palette of plum, scarlet, and crimson incredibly chic. The genius touch is the subtle pink neon lighting, which make you feel like you’re in LA’s Chinatown and Paris at the same time. It makes you want to DRINK BEAUCOUP DE VIN and talk about L’AMOUR.
Do you see your work as part of an artistic tradition? Where does your work depart from artistic tradition and move into new territory?
Block Shop is a wee baby borne of a 350 year old Indian hand block printing tradition. We work with a few different families of printers and weavers in Rajasthan whose lineage of craftsmanship stretches back five generations. The printing process hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years. Blocks are still carved by hand, dye is still mixed by hand, everything is printed with wooden blocks. The biggest difference is probably the ubiquitous Samsung Galaxy smart phones tucked away in printing aprons.
Where we depart from the tradition is in our designs, and the large scale of the blocks we design, which just hardly fit inside of the 8 x11 print tray. Using large blocks results in abstract geometric, self-contained compositions. Our guiding design rule is whether something meets the “can it hang on the wall as its own composition?” test.
Do you have a favorite creation, artwork, or design of your own?
Our sunwave paper print is our favorite mind-meld. It has a shiva lingam energy; it’s phallic and feminine at the same time. Lily and I designed this one over the phone; I (Hopie) was with our team in India on the last day of my trip, while Lily was extremely pregnant in LA, skyping me at 2am. It’s counterintuitive to a visual process, but a lot of our designs come to us verbally while we’re driving around LA talking to each other on the phone. We’re chatty cathies with a Gray Gardens level of communication.
Do you have any objects you like to keep around you as inspiration? What are they?
Our three studio dogs, Dolly, Otto, and Hans. ALL DOGS ALL THE TIME. Now we’re into BABIES, too, because Lily just had a baby (human) girl named Olympia.
Black-gold B. Zippy vases– architectural and brutalist chic. Stuffed with whatever looked inspiring at the flower market. Right now we’re really into blooming banana stalks with tiny precious purple bananas thanks to Holly Flora.
Music, always music! Playlist here.
Did you have any artists or creative people in your family? If so, how did they influence you?
Our grandmother Happy made her family’s clothes, fixed her own plumbing, quilted, painted, bred collies, hid the dirty dishes in the oven when guests came over, strapped kitchen stools to her feet and walked around the house “on stilts” after a few glasses of wine, and had a robust garden until she reached a breaking point with the rabbits and finally mowed the whole thing down with the tractor (but spared the roses). She had grit, she was tough as nails, an infectious sense of humor, and sewed beauty and magic in everything she did.
Why is it important to you to show and share your work to a larger community?
Sharing our work in person is so important to our business, which is mostly online. A retail space is too expensive for us, so we genuinely rely on EPCF to meet our lovely LA customers in person. We love getting their feedback, sharing new designs, explaining our process, making new friends and delighting in the best child fashunz of the season.