Posts in Diversity
When Creativity has a Purpose

Spontaneity comes naturally to anyone with an artistic streak I believe. The most minor of things can inspire you. Sometimes, the most significant.

The We Are Here collection was exactly that, inspired by something significant. For me anyway. The brand has always had the representation of women of colour at its core, inspired by my multi-ethnic family. However this time I wanted to expand not only the visual representation but the way in which people can identify with the designs.

We Are Here digital print t-shirt

We Are Here digital print t-shirt

We Are Here T-shirt is a design for anyone to wear, to send out a message to the viewer to literally state that they are a part of society, whether it is a point about ethnicity, gender, sexuality or disability, for example. Visibility of people is becoming the responsibility of many especially in the mass media. I believe it is essential for there to be a variety of different people represented, to show that many many people make up the fabric of the society and indeed the world in which we inhabit. Hopefully the simplicity of this design communicates its intention.

M.I.A digital print t-shirt

M.I.A digital print t-shirt

M.I.A is one of my favourite singers, who uses her platform to express herself, sing about her personal journey and be an activist for those less fortunate. I think she is incredible, both creative and inspiring as a result but also unapologetic for her stance. I admire her. This T-shirt is in honour of her. The photo from which I based the drawing on, symbolises her character, strength, controversy and beauty. She is just brilliant.

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To pay extra homage to her and her support of refugees, I teamed up with a UK charity, Refugee Action, where all of the profits will be donated to help support their cause and continue the important work they do.

Print Decisions ~ DTG & Screen Printing

Reflecting, as always, on the designs I had created last week I knew I needed to make some decisions. Namely which ones I wanted to get samples of. 

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Also, I need to think of which designs work best for specific techniques such as screen printing or direct to garment (DTG). Both are great processes and I love them equally but of course the aesthetic is the key factor.

Screen printing needs simple art work broken down into colours for each screen, which is a perfect technique for my linear drawings. Whereas DTG is like a computer print out and can capture any detail, ideal for my colour designs that I recently created. 

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To help with the decision making I wanted to have a range of designs, to broaden my collection and appeal to people’s various tastes from simple to complex and colourful. But I also wanted to have some visualisations to help me view them as garments mentally. Below is my very quick version of this - no judgement please!   

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As basic as this is, it really helps me consider how the design works, what needs changing and more importantly, does it work? 

Focusing on the garment choices I am thinking about whether I should print just t-shirts or sweatshirts or both given the seasonal changes that will happen? What colour? I am feeling drawn to black as I think it compliments the designs and is another colour way to add to the collection too. 

Another consideration is other printing techniques such as silver or gold vinyl. I would love that for the linear designs on black sweatshirts. Black and gold specifically is the perfect combination in my opinion. 

Right, so this week I need to make any drawing refinements and send the images off to the printers I met with recently and ask them for a quote. Order the garment samples and printing equipment so I can screen print myself - got to save costs where I can but also so I can do some printing, I really love this technique. It is good to get hands on and embrace the next creative stage. 

Then the fun starts...   

T-shirt - Cult Culture Subversion
Fashion and Textiles Museum, Bermondsey.  T-shirt - Cult Culture Subversion Exhibition

Fashion and Textiles Museum, Bermondsey.  T-shirt - Cult Culture Subversion Exhibition

The cult status of the T-shirt has made its impression on our cultural psychic since the 1950’s although it has been in existence for a lot longer - AD 500, who knew? 

Many an artist and designer have used the T-shirt to be subversive, to communicate a message, to act as a political tool and or raise awareness of a specific topic.  

Viewing the T-shirts especially those by Vivienne Westwood was a great reminder of both my inspiration and why I created my brand in the first place. 

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It reminded me of the core concepts I wanted to create with the brand:

- inspire a conversation

- act as a performative medium within art

- art as fashion

- political activism  

- raise awareness regarding inclusion, equality and ethnic representation

 

 

T-shirts being made of the material they are serve as the perfect surface in which to be creative and showcase a message both visually and in written form.  Which was the exact reason for them being my choice of garment.  They are flexible, they can be worn casually or dressed up and they can be adorned in so many ways, the outcomes are endless.  It is an exciting medium.

 

Vivienne Westwood & Malcom McClaren 

Vivienne Westwood & Malcom McClaren 

Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren knew all too well how powerful the T-shirt could be as a political tool especially during the 1980’s at the height of Thatcherism and the mobilisation of the Punk movement. It was great seeing some of them because it reminded me of the artistic outlet that could be, the creative potential that I had only just touched upon. It was very inspiring.

Vivienne Westwood 

Vivienne Westwood 

Vivienne Westwood as a designer in her right and with her beau still use T-shirts as a platform to raise awareness of various issues around the world, notably racism in the case of the 'I am not a terrorist please don's shoot me' in response to racial profiling of Muslims and the rise in hate crime. Along with climate change, which is huge on their agenda at the moment and has been for some time. I love the fact that she is still using them as a tool in which to raise awareness. People wearing them inadvertently showcase their support either silently or by being the conversation starter literally.  This is what I would love to achieve.

 

 

 

Creating that platform is key as is getting the visibility, which is the tough part at the moment. Getting in contact with the right people is stepping stone number one, stepping stone number two is getting them to take notice...