|Photos by Isabelle Derveaux|
Yesterday I participated in my first public craft fair: The Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn. Over the past year, I’ve created modified Tshirts that I’ve cut, sewn, and printed in my studio, in Brooklyn. Much of it was enabled through the knowledge I had acquired via my classes at FIT, as well as the time I spent researching online and in books to acquire information that I wasn't taught in school. I also spent several months last year interning for a fashion designer in New York, where I met her assistant who I eventually hired for a few weeks to help me sew a few things. She, above all became a huge saving grace for me; having spent more than 30 years as a sewer in factories in China and in New York, she taught me things that I really don’t believe I would have ever learned in school. She streamlined my process, shared with me her knowledge and experiences in the industry, and questioned the intentions of my work. She spoke to me about manufacturing, mass production, and suggested various ways I could approach my craft. She asked me questions, many questions, and called me on my own bullshit time and time again.
I confess that over the past few months I've been wondering if I should continue making my T-shirts; to carry on, and to expand my body of work within this discipline. I think more than anything else, it was becoming a situation in which I was making things and then putting them off to the side as personal items that very few people would physically see, or touch, or pay any attention to. I wonder if part of me kept these things to myself because I was unsure about how they would be received. As someone who is just learning a new craft, it’s terrifying to put your work out there for others, for fear rejection mostly. Admittedly, when I was first starting out as a young Illustrator, I made many mistakes, to the point in which I’m sure that some clients would never want to work with me again. Not because of any type of personality clash, but moreso because of the quality of my work, or lack thereof. I reflect a lot on my workmanship in reference to my sewing; that each time I create a new T-shirt for example, I believe it’s better than the previous one, and so it makes me want to reach out and replace the one that somebody has already bought. But then I stop and realize that this is just part of the creative process: wanting to improve, and knowing that one's work will become better over time through repetition, practice and effort. We’re not born experts, none of us are. Sure, some of us are fortunate to be blessed with extraordinary dexterity within a particular discipline; some are born into families who are supportive, some wealthy even, who can help make the path to realizing one's artistic dreams much easier than if it were otherwise the case. But in the end it’s really about the level of commitment that one has with making one’s art, or design, or drawings… or T-shirts which needs to firmly exist if s/he is to keep forging ahead.
I wasn’t sure what it was that I wanted to write about this morning, only that I knew I had to share my experiences from The Renegade Craft Fair. It was an incredible weekend, and the first time that I’ve ever displayed this particular work of mine in such a public way, to both strangers and friends. I’ve been trying to recognize the difference between this event, versus my experiences participating in an open studio or (gallery) art show. If I distill it into its most simplest form, it’s really quite the same: I’m sharing my work with an audience, which may or may not respond favorably to it. However, there was something very different about this event, and I wonder if it had more to do my wishing for some kind of sign or response, which would encourage me to continue.
I wanted to thank you for everyone who came by; friends and strangers who said hello, the conversations that I had with you, the exchange of inspiration, and creativity; the openness of those who I spoke to, who wondered out loud, and the encouraging bits of wisdom and advice that I received. You are all incredible.
* the photos above are courtesy of Isabelle Derveaux, Illustrator - Photo Organizer.