30 September, 2009


Fashion disgusts me right now.

The whole CSM sketchbook process was so unnatural to me that I no longer care to even attempt it. But it seems the habit has set in and I've forgotten how to be inspired without first worrying about the sketchbook.

This was upsetting because I find myself intensely inspired by things these days, and unable to respond in a way other than fashion. And fashion, as I delicately mentioned above, disgusts me. But recently I've begun looking at small fashion designers and staring at their clothing, trying to work backwards to what their initial concept might have been. It began to bother me that I couldn't imagine how I'd defend those designs to my past tutors. Then one day I stopped and said, "what the hell am I doing that for?" And that's when I realized I don't need a damn sketchbook full of research to explain my ideas to anyone anymore. Don't get me wrong, research is important but in fashion no one cares HOW you got there as long as the place you arrived is good.

Forget all my sketchbooks and research and all the time I wasted trying to explain what was perfectly clear to me to tutors that didn't understand the basics of social etiquette much less style and fashion. Forget all this "challenging myself to start from difficult and complex subjects". I should stop making it so hard on myself and just start sketching.

I want to design what I want to design. It's as simple as that.

27 September, 2009

+1 Networking Point

Woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. Dragged myself to the coffee shop down the road hoping that a caffeine injection would enliven the brain a bit. It didn't.

But some good came of my miniscule effort to drag myself outside. Our local coffee shop is under a building full of artist studios and as a result the cafe owners are lovely arty people who know all the goings on above them.

As a regular who knows the entire staff by name, I found myself in a discussion about art and what I want to do with my life after I asked the owner if I could borrow this design magazine laying around the cafe with an article on rapid prototyping technology. He liked that I want to try my hand at a bit of everything right now, and said he might be able to help. Turns out a shoe designer just moved into the building above the cafe, and the cafe owners also know a fashion designer, a furniture designer, and all sorts of artists up there. He said he would love to connect me with those artists and set up a meeting so I could mingle and find myself some new internships.

I suggested they use their cafe as a meeting point for artists and designers in the area and they suddenly lit up saying, "we were JUST discussing doing that not ten minutes ago!" I offered to help organize that event, which they aim to make happen early November.

So I still feel icky and tired, but now there's a little light of hope that maybe I found a way to study under some designers, craftsmen, and artists so that I actually try my hand at all those things I dreamed about learning this year.

25 September, 2009

No Importance

An announcement of no importance:

My flatmate N and I took part in a guided bike ride into the center of the city today. We woke at 6am, rode our bikes to the meeting point at 7am and have been out riding around ever since. Six hours later, we were both surprised to find that we were TIRED.

I rode my bike for SIX HOURS!

Go me!

23 September, 2009

Oblique Strategy for the Day

"Don't be afraid of things because they're easy to do."

That's advice I really should take.

21 September, 2009

The Spaces In Between

Let me tell you a story, dear readers. A story of one of the only projects I really enjoyed doing at Central Saint Martins. Well, "enjoyed" might be too strong of a word.

This project had a prompt as lackluster as porridge: "what is your journey?" I was feeling particularly lonely that term and so I planned to do the project on physical journeys, historic journeys, epic stories and poems, migration, the hero cycle, and my own journey from San Francisco to London. After I had amassed a pile of research several hundred images thick I approached my Evil Tutor with my idea, only to have him cut me off with a disappointed sigh and the question, "why don't you do it on fashion or something more interesting?"

At that point I realized he wasn't going to like anything I produced, so I whittled the grand concept down to something so basic even a luddite like Evil Tutor could grasp it. But I had to keep in mind the fact that this was Saint Martins, and they don't like anything too direct or obvious. So, first I narrowed the concept to something physical: two iconic bridges. One from the city I came from, and one from the city I came to. And then to make it more Saint Martins-y I decided to focus not on the bridges, so much as the way they cut up space... the negative space around the bridges. (This is when my fascination with negative space began.)

The project was called "The Spaces In Between", and now I'm going to share it with you.

I began with my two iconic bridges, and followed it up with a few pages of sketches of the negative space created by the bridges (which didn't turn out in photos, and weren't all that interesting anyhow)

From these sketches of negative space I began to wonder what defined space as negative. If you are looking at the space around an object at the same time as you are looking at the object itself, you are seeing the same thing two different ways at the same time. So my next step was to find a way to visually explain the idea of "looking at the same thing from two angles at once" visually to my Tutor.

I found a photographer whose name escapes me now, who photographed the same arch from two perspectives and placed them one right next to another. How would that translate to fashion? I imagined a woman wearing a dress with a naked body printed on it that was facing a direction other than the one the wearer was actually facing.

But Saint Martins likes to see that you always refer back to your original concept by the time you design rough sketches. So after some playing with 3d application of this concept on top of this my naked torso ideas (again, which didn't photograph well), I designed a number of very strange garments.

Now, before you think, "holy shit, those are some crap drawings and hideous designs," let me explain that I went a bit crazy with this project because my tutor told me two conflicting things at once shortly before I began this project. First he told me that I didn't experiment with shape or concept enough, and then he told me not two minutes later that my designs were too outlandish and not at all wearable. So I tried to both experiment with shape, but not go as overboard as I previously had.

Moving on....

That same photographer also played with space by taking photos of an archway, cutting it in half and thereby redefining the space it occupied. It was a natural progression from my last idea, so I started cutting up the body and redefining the space it would take up. I then took something very basic- the jeans and t shirt- and cut those iconic shapes up, changing the space and shape they used.

I liked the idea of playing with familiar shapes on the body, so I asked one of my flatmates to let me tie her up. Using string I created some interesting shapes on her body, around her body, and then translated these shapes into negative and positive space, before changing the negative into positive again etc etc. I ended up using some of the shapes created by the string and raising them by quilting a fabric sample...

I also looked at artists who responded to the shape of the body in unusual ways, and found that I was drawn to things that protruded from the body in unusual ways, so I did a few fabric samples to create little nubbins that would protrude from seams...

But I worried I had strayed too far from my original starting point and Evil Tutor hated my train of thought, so I explored the use of space again by literally taking the images I began with and cutting them up, sewing the paper back together, etc in order to create new shapes out of them.

Which I then combined with the idea of quilting shapes (thereby turning a flat space into a 3d space) and designed a few more roughs:

So now I had a lot of ideas, but I had more to do. Being a fashion and print student, I also had to design and produce a print for my fabric.

I once again went back to my original bridges and my idea of negative space and began looking for art and photography that served to illustrate my ideas. In the end I ended up tracing out the negative space around the bridge in the black and white photo on the top page. I then repeated that pattern, cut out out and made a ghetto screen which I used to print, foil, flock, and dye fabric with. (The print looked like what you see on that sheet of tracing paper stuck in the book.)

I then proceeded to combine all these concepts together to create a booklet of about 15 fabric samples using my new print, some of my original concepts, and all the various artists I ended up looking at. Here are a few poorly photographed samples:

Nubbins, a clear foil print, and industrial looking seams/bolts. Very bridge like and also very in line with what I wanted to do. Pardon the brown fuzz on the fabric sample. heh.

The ass print from the original "looking at the same thing from two angles" idea, combined with the bolts, and the print, done in foil.

Just the print, quilted in select places. Um, I did this one very quickly so please excuse the mess. It was just a quick sample, remember.

Taking the concept of the bridge print and making it less literal.

A painting using the artist I found late in the project that I felt showed the softer side of the steel structures.

Now, using these and my other ten samples, I did a few more sketches recycling my favorite styles from the previous sketches and applying my new prints onto them:

And finally, I attempted to change the very fashiony way I illustrate (being trained for 3 years in fashion illustration will do that) to reflect the playful nature of the designs I settled on. These were a lot of fun to do:

I think my favorite is the ass dress, which I aim to produce at some point...

So that's a rough idea of how a project went for me. I got a lot of good response from my classmates on this one. And although it was a very new way of working, and I had to disregard all the research I did in the beginning, I felt like I arrived at something that I could see being worn.

I also realized that the project could have been much more Me. It would have been more interesting, more in-depth, just "more" if I hadn't had to waste time visually explaining my ideas to the tutor, instead of just working the ideas through to their logical and creative end. I was too tutor-aware my boyfriend said, and he's right. This project would have been much more interesting if Evil Tutor didn't need each step explained out to him. He could never follow my thought processes and so I went to a great deal of trouble trying to visually explain them to him which in the end distracted me and stunted my design process.

Of course I failed this project. Evil Tutor never told me why, and frankly I didn't care. Shortly after this project I realized I didn't want to be at Saint Martins anymore.

Funny how a project about journeys would end up pointing me in a new direction.

17 September, 2009

Oblique Strategy for the Day

"Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame."

16 September, 2009

Oblique Strategy for the Day

"Listen to the quiet voice"

13 September, 2009

Mum in Town

My mother is in town this week.

I love my mom, but a week is a long time to spend with her nonstop.

Details to follow soon.

05 September, 2009

Boring Domestic Life

I am sitting in the lounge. Warm light, cool breeze, quiet music playing.

My flatmate is curled up in the other arm chair reading cheesy crime fiction while I surf the internet for electric pianos and latex catsuits. We're sipping tea, and eating toast made from the fresh bread we bought at the market today.

After a bike ride along the canal we spent the afternoon at Broadway Market sitting on the curb listening to a soulful guitarist, and buying fresh fruit, veg, and chicken to roast tonight.

Boring domestic life can be nice.

(Oblique Strategy for the Day: Disciplined self-indulgence.)

03 September, 2009

Oblique Strategy for the Day.

My Oblique Strategy for the day:

"Faced with a choice, do both"

01 September, 2009


It's a little after midnight and being that it is now September 2nd, I am officially a year older.

I think I'm finally an adult because for the first time in my life I have no plans, no party, no nothing. My big birthday plans include picking up a used bike, and cleaning my kitchen. I will be eagerly ripping open a box that has been sitting on my desk though. The boy sent me something and I am dying to see what it is.

I guess I'm a little melancholy tonight. I've never spent a birthday alone before. So when I saw this photo The Boy took of me at our friend's place in SF this past spring, I saw it as a moment of indecision and aprehension captured on film. It seemed to fit my mood just now.

Happy Birthday, Me.