Posts tagged Digital print t-shirt
Stay in your Lane

The gal-dem second birthday party aka second print launch was great fun. There was such a positive atmosphere with the walls being adorned with the content, drawing people to read the articles and view the photographs accompanying them. Music and film projecting many different women, mainly singers, from recollection, also filled the space. Good chat, great rum cocktails and women enjoying the company of other women within the event. Men were there but only a few. Maybe it is a bit intimidating being amongst all that oestrogen? Welcome to our world hey? 

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The rest of the evening was spent sipping cocktails and driving off the sleep with chat about many things, along with art, women and empowerment. 

However, what began as a jubilant evening turned into one where I experienced very heavy criticism from someone who questioned my advert, my intentions regarding the print choice, use of the term women of colour ("what does that even mean?", "Create a platform, what, how are you doing that with that?") and me being perceived as white. It was hard to not get defensive and the trouble is, where you are thrown off guard it is difficult to articulate yourself in a meaningful manner. For them I was profiteering off the image of women who would not gain any benefit. It was another example of a moment in time where people would be in fashion and then be dropped without any consideration. And all for whose benefit? Not the ethnic community. 

I felt upset that that would be the perception that someone would think I would exploit other people for my own gain as I would never do that, that is not me and they would know that I they did but this is the reality not everyone is going to know my intentions. 

My response was that the t-shirt was chosen for the ad as it is the most colourful print and as it is an ad you want to draw people in. The other prints have women from different ethnic groups, which could have been used but not as strong visually.

Women of colour is a statement to celebrate all women that self identify and draw on the fact that there is a huge difference in the representation of diversity with the fashion and media world. That is my comment, my focus and the platform I intended for discussion although it may not be obvious. 

Yes I am mixed race (30% Indian, I did a DNA test) and whilst I know that most people assume I am Spanish or South American, although someone guessed Bangladeshi on Friday, but that is neither here nor there. The point is I am mostly white and definitely afford the privilege of that but moreover I am not ignorant about that fact either. However my experience of growing up was not that and was bullied due to my ethnic difference being very obvious in a small white working class town. So that has definitely left its mark and was something I struggled with for many years. It was an embarrassment to be ethnically different especially in the 80's when the term 'Paki' was thrown around without conscious thought for the other persons feelings. Plus my mum being adopted did not allow for any cultural identity to be formed so I feel that sadly is not within my experienc either. But where do you draw the line? Is my experience enough, is being mixed enough, am I too white so I should not comment on issues surrounding race? 

The point of the brand was to raise more awareness of the lack of women of colour within the fashion and media world at large. But maybe that is too political overall in terms of visual imagery and representation. Maybe I should stay within my own ethnic group, albeit as diluted as it may be. Maybe I do not have a platform here? Maybe I should just stay in my lane as the title suggests? But maybe I am allowed a voice. I know I do not speak for all women, I do not want too. I have no idea what it is like to be judged as a black women or a Chinese women. All I have are my own experiences, which is where I drew the inspiration from after feelings angry that still in the 21st century we are still dealing with diversity issues. 

So whilst I have been reflecting on the negative comments I have also drawn some positive conclusions. Maybe I do need to streamline the visual imagery I use? Coincidentally I have been drawing more Asian women recently so there maybe a subconscious thought to focus on that more as there is a definite lack of Indian women in these worlds, which is saying something given the lack of black and Chinese women, to mention a few. But imagery is important and I do need to be thoughtful and considerate when using it. I need to think of the way the brand is being perceived and the messages being said directly or indirectly. 

I also need to be stronger in myself regarding the brand and the ethos behind it, articulate myself better and with confidence. And like anything, criticism is part of life and you have to take the rough with the smooth, life cannot be peachy all the time. Life is not like that, so onwards and upwards. 

Utilising Opportunities

I have come to realise that, in this life, if you do not ask you do not get. Which is an area of my character I am challenging. Normally I am outgoing but very reserved when it comes to certain situations as I do not want to appear cheeky or too forthright. However, I am an entrepreneur and I have to be both smart and savvy on a number of levels. Especially when it comes to working with others and being savvy when it comes to monetary factors (this is a weakness of mine).

So part of moving forward and growing with this change in my mindset I have become somewhat of a skills seeker and an indirect negotiator.

Scenario one, which I have previously mentioned in another post, was where I met the photographer. Lovely guy who I am communicating with at the moment regarding my ideas of the shoot overall, aesthetics and locations. This was such a random opportunity to meet someone with the qualifications and skills I need. So rather than just observe the photoshoot he was the photographer for, I seized the moment (at the end of course) and enquiried to see if he would be interested in working together etcetera. It was so random but I feel the universe was working with me on this one. 

Second opportunity was meeting a makeup artist. I went into a well know branded store to enquire about foundation and whilst having a colour match done it transpired that she was also a freelance makeup artist too. So again, seizing the opportunity I told her about the photoshoot and lookbook and we exchanged numbers to discuss things further. Again another moment where I took the courage to enquire about freelancing and as a result I have her support for the shoot coupled with a lower price in exchange for her using some of the images for her own business. A win win situation.

It is so interesting that a little shift in my attitude and making enquiries has helped significantly and perhaps is a true sign of showing some entrepreneurship. So onwards and upwards on the asking front.

So I am feeling good about the progress on a practical level. Which has a knock on effect with everything else especially concerning the models. My friends have been so supportive in being my models for the day, commiting their time for free and helping me achieve my vision. So far the list is seven with the majority confirming. Exciting times.

Now it is about planning the looks for each model. Given their different ethnicities, we are celebrating women of colour after all, I have to consider their own aesthetic coupled with the tshirt and in turn the overall look I want to create. This I am excited about as it is the creative side of my brain being able to have fun but plan effectively to achieve the desired look. I need to remain focused on my vision which coincides with the visual research I have done recently moodboard wise. 

On my Instagram I have been playing about with looks either on myself or flat shots showcasing the entire look. Again I have included a couple in recent posts but here are a couple that I have not shown yet.  

One dress, two looks

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Casual  

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More night time

So the next priorities are getting the looks sorted and deciding the order of the shoot so it works logistically and especially location wise. I love the area I live in, it is so diverse and I want to showcase that as the backdrop to my narrative. I just need to check how much my models do :) 

Planning the Photoshoot

The film will come later. After speaking to experts in their field, namely my friends who work in the fashion and film industry, it was decided that postponing the short film until the website has been revamped was the better decision. Creating new images from the photoshoot will allow for a stronger visual message to be communicated along with a clearer user experience to purchase - hopefully. The film will be a campaign to help raise awareness of my brand. 

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So as you can see, I have started to research and create moodboards to showcase the visual concepts I would like to portray and associate with the brand. I have pencilled in a date, so creating a timeline to work within to organise everything is imperative. Three models have commited their time so far, which is great news. Using the moodboards and having knowledge of the models, I am going to experiment with styling potential looks for them from my own wardrobe so I can communicate concepts easily in a visual way with whoever styles the shoot. 

casual look 1

casual look 1

casual look 2

casual look 2

The space is also a really important decision. I have visited a studio, which was a great space. But being a small company in its infancy I need to keep costs to a minimum. So using specific areas in Hackney as the backdrop will not only allow for this but will contribute to the edgy urban feel I want to have. And logistically it will be easier as I live in the borough.  Another friend put me in touch with her friend who has a studio where I can shoot for free, which is also an added bonus especially I need images with a clean, well lit background for both the lookbook and website. 

Also another stroke of luck happened today. In my back garden there are two garages that back up to the wall where some people were doing a fashion shoot on top of it. Observing the shoot I thought I would enquire about their experience. I explained what I was looking for and if, as a fashion photographer he might be interested. To cut a long story short he said he was and we exchanged numbers to get in touch at a later date to discuss things further. Exciting times. This is the future, reaching out and networking. Linking up via friends or other means that may lead to gaining experience, working with people or making contacts is a priority now. No more waiting around, I need to drive this forward if it is to become anything. 

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These looks are me just experimenting. I am not sure on the overall aesthetic, possibly a bit boring and predictable in terms of styling and capturing a visual. But it is a start and a spring board to start a conversation regarding ideas and possibilities, which is the most exciting element.

So...to contact more people to see if they are available and want to work with me on this aspect of the project. The sunshine today has helped the positivity, may the rays shine for longer and inspire.