Today we’re talking to rug tufter strifemade, who makes anime and pop culture-themed rugs from his converted garage workspace.
He started making custom rugs a few years into the current tufting craze, primarily learning from TikTok and the tufting subreddit, where new and experienced tufters share their work and help newbies get started.
Read the full interview below, and check out more of his work on his Instagram @strifemade.
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Tell us about yourself. What do you make?
Howdy! My name’s Josh, some people refer to me as Strife based on my handle strifemade. I guess it passes as a nickname or last name but I just really like Final Fantasy.
When I’m not making rugs you can find me spending time with my partner and dog, playing games (currently obsessed with Baldur’s Gate 3) watching hockey, or catching up on whatever anime I’ve been watching!
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As far as what I make, I make custom rugs! Typically anime/pop culture related!
Tell us about your workspace
When I first started out I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with my girlfriend and it was… tight to say the least.
She was super supportive of me doing something I loved despite it taking up a lot of space. I don’t know if you know this but tufting is LOUD.
Thankfully we’ve moved recently and now I’m tufting in a rather large garage that came with really handy shelving to store all my yarn in storage bins, it also accommodates 3 (soon to be 4) frames as well as a desk I use to trim my rugs AND a second desk I use to print shipping labels and such!
What are your favorite tools/materials to work with?
I’m a big cut pile guy (shout out the Spider from Tuft Love) but I’m planning on adding some more guns to my kit soon to add some more depth!
I largely stick with acrylic yarn as it keeps the rugs as affordable as possible but if someone requests wool I’m open to accommodating!
I’m a bit it a fabric snob. I’ve tried pretty much every material commonly used for tufting and the premium grey fabric from Tufting Nation is the best you can get and it’s not close.
I also prefer to use 2 types of latex from Tufting Nation instead of the standard rug adhesive. It just takes your rug up from a hobbyist level to a much more professional level in my opinion!
But for anyone that makes rugs reading this, if you do not have a shop vac your number 1 priority should be buying one. It’s literally life-changing!
How long have you been tufting? Who taught you or where did you learn? Did you have any artistic background beforehand?
I started in March of 2022 so about a year and a half now!
I suppose you could say I taught myself as I didn’t really watch many how-to guides I just lurked the r/tufting subreddit for about a month. I also watched a lot of TikToks of various tufters at the time to see how they trimmed their rugs and stuff like that (I’m starting to understand why my first rug was so bad haha).
As far as artistic background, I dabbled in photography before but I literally could not draw a straight line for the life of me so it was some type of miracle this clicked for me!
What is the most challenging aspect of your craft or business?
Remembering to flip the image when you project it and recording stuff to make content. I wish I was kidding.
What has been the most effective way to promote your work?
Reels on Instagram is easily number 1, by a mile.
It’s inconsistent because you’re at the mercy of their algorithm so it’s really darts at a board but when you hit the growth potential is nuts.
Any advice for tufting newbies?
Any question you have there’s an answer on Reddit. I’m not kidding.
Type your question into Google and just add Reddit at the very end and I guarantee you’ll find an answer on the tufting subreddit.
I’ve personally answered dozens of questions there along with hundreds of others. There’s a master list at the top with links on where to get anything you need along with answers to common issues and there’s always someone who knows how to remedy whatever issue you have if somehow there’s not already an answer.
Who inspires you? Any shoutouts to fellow tufters or artists?
Oh man, there’s a ton. I’ll use their handles so people can check them out!
Guys like S Class (@sclass_supply) and Jayglass (@jayglasss) are absolute pillars of the community. The way S Class makes content and the stuff he was doing before tufting was as popular as it is now is nuts and Jayglass is the master of color theory in tufting.
My man built.tuft is always killing it and was a big help for me when I was starting out.
And my buddy jaytufting. He’s grown so much as a tufter the past few months and he always keeps me accountable on work. Massive respect to him and his dedication to the craft.
I could honestly go on for days. I’ve been getting so much inspiration from tattoo artists lately and you guys just may see some collaborations from me and some of the people I’ve been talking with lately so keep a look out!
Actually lastly I should out to my man trainertre. He’s not a tufter but he’s the ultimate entrepreneur and seeing him open his shop recently (studio 151 – an absolute must if you’re into Pokémon) has been a big-time motivator to push me to keep getting better!
Read also: Best rug tufting artists to follow on TikTok
Anything else you’d like to share?
I got a few anecdotes but I’ll leave you with one:
Trust the process.
Where can people find your work?
You can find me on every social outside of Twitter by searching strifemade!
I’ll spare everyone from my Twitter account where I rant about hockey haha. My website which will hopefully be live soon will be strifemade.com.
I also have an Etsy but it’s really just to showcase my work to people who might not have an Instagram. It pushes them to email me to set something up as I largely work on a commission basis which is a bit different than the current trend of either pre-orders or doing big themed drops!
Find more of Josh’s work on his Instagram profile @strifemade.
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