For the past several weeks, I've been working on refining some modified T shirts that I designed. I've been wanting, for a very long time, to venture into fashion - not as a career shift, but moreso to introduce this as another component to my studio practice. Many people have asked me in reference to my wanting to create cut & sew T shirts, why I don't purchase them from a manufacturer and then silkscreen my images onto them. It's a legitimate question, and one that I think comes up naturally in reference to me because I am an illustrator, whose strength is rooted in drawing. Sewing for me, is still very new; although I do love the process of it, I still have much to learn. And so, after answering out loud (and to myself) this question many times over, I realized that my choice has less to do with practicality at this point, and everything to do with realizing a dream. I've written these words before:
I love the craft of making things.
I care about my studio practice.
This is not to suggest that I would never source out part of my work; I would be stubborn not to do so, if ever the demand became too large for me to manage. To share, I currently have a sewer, and an assistant, as well as interns who have helped me tremendously throughout this process. But at this point, if I continue to receive help and source out more of my process, then I would want to keep the manufacturing within the US. So far, it's been good, and so far I've been able to afford to do so. But I admit that I am spending more than I am making. And in order to make these shirts, and in order to shift some of my time and attention over to creating these shirts, means that I have to give up other things. I've always believed that everything comes at a price, that when you ask for, and then receive something, then you must relinquish something else in return. To do otherwise, inspires greed and self absorption, two characteristics that I despise in people. The notion of give-and-take is something that I take very seriously; for me, nothing is free.
The past two weeks I have been working more than 90 hours per week.
I write this, not because I am proud. It's only a statement to describe the effort that it's taken me to try to do all of the work. For me, the work was necessary, because choosing to do it any other way, would not have been possible, at least with my current resources and income.
Over the past 14 or so days, I had a kind of daily ritual: I would wake very early in the morning, between 4:15am to 5:00am; I would shower and get changed, and then walk the dogs to the studio. Rita, who is the older of the two dogs, I would carry most of the time -- without trying to humanize her, I figure that it's probably too early for her to walk based on the fact that she just sits on the sidewalk when we get outside. In any event, my work days have been lasting between 12-16 hours everyday, including the weekends, such that I split my days up to accommodate both illustration and fashion related work.
It's a strange feeling to work so hard for something and then arrive at a place where you suddenly forget the reasons why you began in the first place. It's the repetition of tasks, and those moments when I spend alone in silence, making whatever it is I am making without any feedback from anyone that causes me to forget what my original intentions were for choosing to place so much time and effort in making these T shirts.
And so, I find myself
for some sign to remind myself that all of my pursuits carry with it good intentions, and contain some value of worth.
* The T shirts above are from my line YEE YEE. My focus for the Fall are on Graphic Tees. They're currently on sale on fab.com.