Since I can remember, I always have been interested in alterating and reusing things I have found around. As I always say, it’s probably more related to the tight budget than to being fully concious with the planet. I feel I got this from my dad. I remember him spending the weekends in his little workshop fixing some radio he found in the street or making little notebooks for my mum to write the shopping list by taking the unused side of some small pieces of paper and staple them together. In a uncounscious way, I guess that made me connected more with artists and designers that would work in that way instead of being impressed by some ostentatious artists. Not only because of their lack of money for their pieces, just as the work was based in finding beauty in the everyday life. To explain what I am talking about, I could mention the work of the photgrapher William Eggleston which photographies were mostly taken in his daily walks around his hometown in Memphis.
kAnother artist that really inspired me was the multidisciplinary artist, Aleksandr Rodchenko. As part of the constructivist art movement, he defended abstract, austere art to reflect modern industrial society. I am not fully agree with the total rejection to decorative style the Constructivism defended but I found really interesting and inspiring how they started to assemblage industrial materials and found objects. Beyond the way they were using the materials, I found Rodchenko’s practice interesting as he defended art for social purposes.
"Hanging Construction" by Aleksandr Rodchencko
This bring me to the following point: I am not interested in a skull with diamonds besides the conversation, reaction or emotions the artist wants to create If that message can only be appreciated or understood by a small portion of the population. Not trying to be critical here because I think that at the end of the day, you have to do what you have to do and what is interesting and exciting for you. But I guess because the execution of certain ideas are far away from my reach, I just learned how to work in a different way. Working with what I have available.
Besides the economically aspect, even that I will have access to expensive materials or I will have the chance to use them in my work, what’s the point of wasting? Even If you are not paying a penny for it. Why creating more waste? Why not creating from other materials that have been industrially produced, which making has already left some mark in the environment and now they are abandoned without a purpose? As designers and makers, we must be aware of this regardless we can pay for materials or not. There is not need of waste. During this lockdown, I have been working with materials I have at home (hello hoarder) and some I found in my morning walks. Figuring out how to work with them has been keeping me excited and motivated.
For my self initiated project proposal, I want to develop a business idea for reusing clothes and printing on top of them. Like looking to our boring and forgotten clothes and given them a second chance. Through my practice as a print maker and as a beginner maker, I realised the amount of waste and stock you can produce. Even though I have mainly done art prints, my interest is combining my practice with reusing and upcycling materials so I will like to apply that to fast fashion. Having that on mind and being aware of the problem that fast fashion is globally for the environment, I would like to set a business where I could rework second hand clothes and where people could send me their clothes and I could print some of my designs on them and send them back. During the pandemic, I have been developing ways of printing from home from digital prints to other more handcrafted techniques like marbling paper or run my own t-shirt campaign through the platform Everpress. Both practices made me realise about the amount of waste you can produce as a creative. Doing the t-shirt campaign, made me realise that producing a line of t-shirts is a waste (in terms of having stock around, the money you have to pay upfront to produce those t-shirts and the comissioning that the platform gets from each order). But beyond that, is not only wrong as a business idea but it is not sustainable. I have been all my life buying second hand clothes (initially, because of my tight budget mainly) but eventually because I realised the joy I find when I buy “new” clothes (even that they are second hand) is that they bring something fresh to my wardrobe. I also enjoy cutting them, sewing patches, painting or printing some idea on them, etc. During this pandemic, I have been doing this way more as the charity shops were closed, and then I thought turning this into a service where people will send me over clothes because they want a new fresh look on them or as a designer, I will chose some second hand clothes and apply my ideas into them. Instead of just throwing them or giving them to the charity (in the future, maybe I could collaborate with some charity shops like Traid), they could turn it into something new.
To accomplish this, I have done some research in how this could be running and how to do it fully sustainable. By instance, I researched about sustainable packaging like potato starch delivery bags and natural dyes and organic screen printing inks. On my research I found companies like Ceres Studio, an artist collective run by Florence Hawkins, who used to be a screen printing technician at LCC and now works in the textile department at Central Saint Martins runs their own workshops in how to make your own handmade dyes. My next step is to experiment by making them at home using the left overs of fruits and vegetables. Blueberries, blackberries and red cabbage create blue. Raspberries and create red. Tumeric , orange and lemon peel create yellow. Spinach create green. In terms of organic inks for screen printing I found the Australian company called Permaset which colour range Permaset Aqua and Permaset Permatone has been granted approval by the Soil Association in the UK, having successfully met the requirements of the Global Organic Textiles Standards (GOTS) for non-organic chemical inputs for use in organic textile processing.Their inks are also 100% vegan. My plan is start thinking about all of this and keep developing it through my last year of university.