Since the release of the teaser trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody, the new Queen biopic, was released this May – it seemed as if the entire world got what they were asking for. Rami Malek, the star in the hit television show Mr. Robot, was cast […]
Here at Kolekto, we’ve got our eyes firmly fixed on the blossoming creative scene in Sheffield. So it seemed only natural to chat with one of the city’s most brightly shining stars, painter and muralist Florence Blanchard. We caught up with the French artist to see how 2014 is wrapping up for her.
Hi Florence, nice to talk to you today! What are you up to at the moment?
I’ve just done an exhibition, Night visions, which is my first solo show in Sheffield in almost 3 years. All the work is new and some of it is inspired by my recent visit to Japan, where I completed a 350 m2 mural in Betsukai Hokkaido. The title of the show, Night Visions, refers to the dreamlike compositions that I often painted after dark onto circular black paper. I have been working on this exhibition the whole year and I am very please with it. It includes some of the work I did in preparation for the current ‘Marvelosa’ exhibition at the National Fairground Archive which also started in Sheffield in September and is on until January 2015. This is the perfect conclusion of a year full of really cool projects.
Where does your influence for working as a street artist stem from?
I find it hard to call myself a street artist because I started painting in the streets way before the term ‘street art’ appeared. I became a graffiti writer as a teenager influenced by the world wide phenomenon, which arrived in my home city in the late 80’s – early 90’s. Street art only appeared in the past 10 years.
Some say street art helps make art accessible to the masses, regardless of a person’s background or demographic. For this reason, would you say that it’s more important than work hung on gallery wall?
Honestly, in my opinion they are just two different aspects of the creative world, which are not comparable.
Do you think you’ll be painting murals all your life?
Simple answer: Yes.
What’s the best thing about being an artist?
The best thing is to be able to travel to exotic places and to never be bored.
Two great reasons… And the worst?
Everyone has different views on what art is or what being an artist means, which often makes things chaotic when you work with people for the first time.
Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration behind the ‘Blob’ and ‘Dropmen’ series?
The Dropmen arose from painting drops and blobs in the background of my graffiti pieces in the 90’s. These friendly characters sit in doorways and public paths witnessing street life as it goes by.
Where did your idea for the Particles murals come from?
The particles themselves are abstracted blob characters, they represent the molecules that our universe is made from. The ‘particle paintings’ generally have a full-bleed finish, signifying the false promise of infinity and matter that has no beginning and no end – a sort of mise en abyme for the viewer.
How do you see art in 2064, fifty years from now?
A bit like now but more futuristic.
What do you hope to achieve through your art?
Where is your ‘creative place’ when you’re most productive?
I like to be on my own to create works – either outside or in the studio. Generally in the evenings, and I avoid checking out blogs or magazines or other potential sources of procrastination.
And finally… If you were a font, which font would you be?
Dingbats with no hesitation.
Hiut Denim are currently taking the world by storm, in this product driven society that we live in brands are always searching for the next step, the next idea, the next big tool to give themselves more exposure. Hiut Denim however have a different tactic; “do one thing, and do it well”.
The Cardigan based denim company have one of the best stories to tell to anyone who is a fan of clothing, and probably to some who aren’t.
We were fortunate enough to catch up with co-founder, David Hieatt, for a chat about all things denim and to learn more about his story.
You’re based in Cardigan, a small town with an exceptional knowledge of denim. For those who don’t know, can you tell us why Cardigan?
Well, to give your readers some context. We live in a very remote part of West Wales, on the very edge of Britain- closer to Ireland than to London. There’s more sheep than people. It is a remarkable place, but not just for its beauty.
For some odd reason it was home to a jeans factory. Indeed Britain’s biggest denim factory. It made 35,000 pairs of jeans every week for 3-4 decades employing 400 people. That’s a lot of jeans. And also, a lot of skill.
Then in 2001 the factory closed. It had fought the battle of who could be the cheapest. And it had lost. We will never win that battle again. Economics make decisions like that. But Clare and I decided 4 decades worth of skill and knowledge shouldn’t go to waste. But this time, we will fight a different battle. We will fight a battle based on quality and ideas.
The Hiut Denim Co was born to get the town making jeans again: That is its purpose.
In my opinion denim is probably the most personal item of clothing you can own, with everyone searching for the perfect fading process what do you consider so special about jeans?
For me, I love creative people. I admire them. I love the great changes they make in this world. And because jeans are one of those rare iconic pieces of clothing that are worn by one and by all, they are for everyone. Just like ideas. I love them for that quality. They are the uniform for creative man and woman. Those amazing people who push this world forward.
You create the stunning yearbooks, full of all things denim and all things Hiut. What was the thought process behind creating such a publication?
We are small. Our marketing budget is no bigger than our coffee budget. And we live in a very busy world. People’s attentions are being dragged from one place to another. We can’t do many things, so the things that we decide to do, we have to be amazing at. Or face the fact that we will die. Yes, that’s it: Be amazing. Or die.
The YearBook is our attempt to bookmark time. The same people come back each year. And we build our buildings on the farm. And, I hope, we at the same time help build our company. For us, print is alive and kicking- if you do it beautifully. And we spend our time trying to make it as beautiful as we can.
Andrew Paynter has agreed to take the photos for the first 10 years. He is like our Bruce Weber. And Nick Hand designs it. He is like our Jonathan Ive. Just thinking about it as I write, even the process of it is amazing. The first and second yearbooks are sold out. The third one is quite stunningly late. But it will be worth it.
Selvedge denim seems to be becoming more and more prominent as each year passes by, you sell your organic denim alongside the selvedge, can you tell us about both styles?
In our view, the best selvedge comes from Japan. They have taken it to another level. There are only a handful of truly iconic mills in Japan. They are very busy. They don’t need any more business. We were lucky and someone we know persuaded Kuroki that we were going to be the Apple of jeans. So Kuroki said yes. Our selvedge is hand dipped 10 times, and we use real indigo. It’s such a beautiful denim, we are extremely lucky.
Our organic denim comes from Isko. They are based in Turkey and are a very innovative, forward-looking mill. And they have the best range of organic. So again, we are lucky to be working with them, the relationship with the mills is pivotal for us. Great mills make great denim.
The history tag is a brilliant concept that allows your customers to share their progress on their journey with yourselves and other customers, how much importance do you place on this type of interaction?
The love we have for our things– our pens, shoes, cameras, our books, our music, our jeans– usually has something to do with the stories that we attach to them. Sometimes the stories are our own, sometimes other people’s. But those memories are subject to one threat: It’s called ‘Time Passing”. And with time passing those important memories fade (even the unforgettable brilliant ones!)
That got us thinking. On the one hand, we have the Luddite desire to make something well, to make something to last. To make a great pair of jeans, and on the other hand, we have the geeky side of us that understands the power of the Internet to tell stories.
For us, it’s like two roads coming together. And where they meet, is a really interesting place. And, as a company that’s where we want to be. At those crossroads between Luddite and Geek.
That’s why Hiut Denim was the first jean company in the world to have a History Tag. After all if we make a pair of great jeans that last, so should the memories that are made in them.
So, how does it work?
It’s super simple. Each jean will come with a unique number. Your own unique number. You go to the HistoryTag website and register. That’s it. Then you can upload pictures of where you went, what you did, who you did it with to the HistoryTag website.
All those memories get saved. Not a big deal right now. But when you look back, it will become a big deal. You could say the History Tag is a bit like a blank iPod, that as you add more and more music (in our case, memories) it becomes more and more interesting.
So if in the future, your jeans get handed down, or end up in a second hand jeans shop, its memories will go along with them. Your memories won’t be forgotten which we think is good. A good marriage between Luddite and Geek.
Can you think of any worn pair in particular that stands out as the most impressive you’ve seen?
I had the first pair that were a sample pair. They have had a hard life. I live on a farm. There are no lazy days. I feel for them. But they have a few stories to tell.
At Kolekto we believe that all of the creative industries are linked and inspire one another, ‘The Rivet Press’ would suggest that you agree, how have the likes of the music, film and art industry helped to create the Hiut product?
We make jeans for creative people. We believe in their ideas, and their energy to make them happen. They are changing the world. And we have been lucky to have spent all our working lives in the creative industries. So it is not so surprising that we just want to make jeans for them. We view the creative industries as a melting pot in which we get our inspirations come from all over the place.
In your Yearbook 001 you mentioned that obsessions can lead to greatness, can you remember your own earliest obsession?
My bedroom was covered from wall to wall, including the ceiling, with posters of sports brands and jeans brands. I dreamt about one day starting my own brand. And I would make it so inspirational that someone would want to cover their bedroom in our posters.
Recently you hacked the Rivet & Hide store with a talking window, how did that opportunity arise?
Nick from Knit called us and asked would be interested in doing one of the world’s first conductive ink windows, which when you touch them, start talking. Of course, we said yes. A ‘world’s first’ is always a good way to start the day.
What do you consider Hiut’s proudest achievement to date?
We crossed the start line. Most people talk about their dreams and never follow through and make them happen. But the proudest achievement will be when we can say we got 400 world-class makers their jobs back. The mission will not be complete until we do that.
Final question, with your motto of ‘do one thing, and do it well.’ What’s next for Hiut?
Our job is to have lots of ideas. Our other job is to keep them secret until they launch. I like the fact that some of the biggest jeans companies come and visit us to find out what we are doing. But one room always stays locked.
Final final question, can Kolekto get a freebie? By Kolekto I definitely mean myself, 32R please.
Yeah, we can get you a pair. I will ask Naomi to email you.
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Following the Secret Cinema’s successful rebirth of Back to the Future last month in Hackney, I got thinking to myself, what could be done with music and the format of a gig to make it more of an immersive experience? A quick bit of research proved that the Secret Cinema themselves had too considered this idea, inviting Laura Marling in 2012 to bring to life her ‘Grand Eagle Ball’. This only served to beg the question more, why hadn’t more artists attempt the same concept? A show in which the songs are brought to life in the 4D surround, as opposed to staring at a stage?
It is of course easier to bring cinema to life, the visuals have already been provided; music however requires a bit more imagination, everyone’s mind interprets a song in a different way, you only have to look at the cultural divides caused by genres to see that (cheeky plug for my previous article…), and time and time again we are told by artists to ‘make our own assumptions of a record’, but why not show us what you, the performer, want us to see? is that not why the record exists in the first place? whether it is through interpretive dance or even a medieval reenactment, show us what you think we should be seeing!
Several artists have had a go over the years to varying degrees of success, Pink Floyd built The Wall, Laura Marling as mentioned provided a tour of a house, Bjork’s Biophilia is widely recognised as a masterpiece, R Kelly’s ‘Trapped in the closet’…well he tried.
On the opening of their Reflektor tour cycle Arcade Fire instructed fans that there was a dress code in place for the shows, providing the feeling of being inside the performance, each audience member a stage prop. Simple things like this may sound insignificant on paper but they are what make an experience, they offer ‘I was there’ moments to tell your grandkids.
Readers of a certain generation will remember the excitement and stories about that the Red Hot Chili Peppers releasing the ‘Californication’ video as an actual video game (some of us are still waiting). Of course it never happened, but just the glimpse of the possibility inside that video caught the attention of a massive audience.
At the time of writing Kate Bush has just begun her record-breaking residency at London’s Eventim Apollo, and if anyone in the history of music has had the ability to change performance, to create something truly enchanting and other-worldly, it is Kate Bush.
Rumours have ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous (performing The Ninth Wave in a water tank, anyone?) but performance does not have to be akin to Spinal Tap to add theatre and a new twist, of the tiny details that have been revealed in the aftermath of the first shows, we now know that Bush has twisted her extensive catalogue into a theatrical performance, more like a play than a band gig. A subtle, but refreshing twist.
So what else could be done? How else can we reinvent the gig wheel?
Lady Gaga is a bundle of nervous energy waiting to explode, albeit far less in recent times; Muse like to do things differently (remember the spaceships), Biffy Clyro have proved themselves to be fans of drama…but what can be done beyond the stage?
Possible candidates for the ‘exploring albums physically’ concept could be Kolekto favourites Bastille, a band not afraid of cinema as demonstrated in the videos for each of their singles, and frontman Dan Smith’s self-proclaimed love for all things David Lynch, the legendary director and occasional musician. How good would it be for (thinking theoretically) David Lynch, Bastille and The Secret Cinema to collaborate on something truly spectacular? I could be tempted to form a campaign.
Alt-J release their long awaited follow up to An Awesome Wave later this month, and if there is any band caught between radio and experimentalism capable of creating a unique spectacle it is Alt-J. With the three singles released so far demonstrating a wide scope of styles and a massive show at London’s o2 Arena at the beginning of next year, it could be a perfect opportunity for the band to let their imaginations run wild, raise the bar for performance and stake a claim for headline spots at next year’s festivals.
With the range of media outlets now available, accessibility to technology unparalleled and demand for ‘something different’ at an all time high, the opportunity for bands and artists to collaborate and create their own universes has never been so exciting. In the 70s, Prog did all it could do create experiences but could only go so far, Disco had it’s dance movement, and in the modern era we have all the tools available on our desktop to do as we please. When a group of kids can make a music video using a GoPro and Youtube, there is no reason why music cannot branch out and use all the tools at it’s disposal.