Recreating supermarket essentials with embroidery, Dagmar Stap counters mass production with craftsmanship
Often getting lost in TV series and loving trashy magazine aesthetics, the Groningen-based artist also sews pop culture references into her tactile work.
- Olivia Hingley
- 29 June 2022
When flicking through Dagmar Stap’s brilliant body of work, you’ll probably recognise a good few staple items that you’ve got hanging around in your kitchen cupboard: a tin of Heinz beans, a box of herbal tea, some instant noodles and maybe even a half eaten packet of Skittles. Many of these items have an instantly recognisable packaging, and purposefully so. “The supermarket is one big package competition of which is the best looking,” begins Dagmar, “but once they’re picked, they are eaten and thrown away.” It’s this sense of dispensability, wastefulness and disregard for design artistry that Dagmar wants her work to bring into question. “I wanted to keep seeing the nice wrappers, so I decided to reproduce them in a very time-consuming way,” she explains. “This creates a contrast between mass production and craftsmanship.”
Dagmar’s work also recreates other widely recognisable facets of society, such as items and scenes from pop culture. Citing her love for the big letters on old tabloid magazines and the slogans “that are taken out of context to convince you to buy them”, Dagmar set herself on recreating a few of their gaudy front covers. Featuring a vintage Playboy cover and an old-school Britney Spears image, they look fresh off a 90s off-licence magazine stand. With the magazines, Dagmar intended to capture “the moment before we are disappointed. The weird photos and big letters lure us in and make us excited,” she highlights, “but once you’ve read the mediocre article, you are disappointed and end up throwing away the bloody thing.”
When working Dagmar often likes to have TV series and films on in the background. “I completely immerse myself in the story and become obsessed with some characters,” she admits, “ and I wanted to capture this feeling right after you finish the last episode, because it’s often forgotten when I start a new series.” This is what pushed Dagmar to start embroidering portraits of her favourite characters, which also became a good exercise in recreating light and skin tones. From this portrait series, it’s evident that Dagmar was deeply immersed in the recent Euphoria hype (c’mon, who wasn’t?) with her brilliant recreation of Cassie’s now-infamous meltdown scene and Nate’s rage-inducing maliciousness.
Dagmar’s first introduction to embroidery came at an early age, when she received a kit for her birthday. Despite remembering that she really enjoyed the medium, it didn’t end up becoming more than a short-term hobby. It was after five years at Art Academy Minerva in Groningen, where Dagmar predominantly found herself drawing or painting, that she began to get bored. So, with her upcoming graduation project, Dagmar decided to pick up a new medium. “I found myself going back to what I knew from the past, and I stuck with it. It really is like painting, but with thread.” Going forward, Dagmar is excited about expanding her repertoire to other textile forms, having just signed up for a sewing course. “I would really love to know my way around a sewing machine,” Dagmar explains, “so when an idea pops into my mind I can just make it and maybe incorporate some embroidery in too.” We may not be entirely sure what Dagmar has coming next, but we really do hope it’s a Euphoria themed bedspread.
Dagmar Stap: Magazines/Group Photo (Copyright © Dagmar Stap, 2021)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.