30 years of Animal

Behind the scenes | Finding inspiration with our graphic designers

17 Feb

Animal's 30 year anniversary

Finding inspiration at the London Art Fair with:

Rose Eads - Women & Girls’ Graphic Designer
Lauren Bowling - Women & Girls’ Graphic Designer
Aron Leah - Men & Boys’ Graphic Designer

As we celebrate our 30th Anniversary, we felt it was the perfect time to get to know the people who keep our brand running true, to understand a little of their inspiration and the process that goes into creating a new collection.

It all starts with ideas and creativity. Before a single garment is designed, there needs to be a time for reflection, research and experimentation. This sees our designers head off around the world, from Scandinavia, Australia and California, to the cities of Europe, to find the best inspiration and research for each new collection. Closer to home is of course London, a creative hub that attracts designers from across the globe and a frequent destination for our team. We therefore decided to hijack the latest research trip to the fashion capital, joining our graphic designers, Rose, Lauren and Aron, to see how the process begins.

Animal at the London Art Fair - finding inspiration

The destination?

The London Art Fair; 17-21.01.2017

In a nutshell, what is it?

Aron: Basically a huge bunch of art galleries that have come together to showcase the work of the artists they represent. (A quick check of the guide says there were 129 galleries from 17 different countries.) It was called Modern British and Contemporary Art.

Rose: Yes, but a lot of it was on the more traditional side of contemporary: sculpture, fine art, painting…

Why did you want to visit?

Rose: To see something new. It’s really important to stay inspired as a designer. It doesn’t matter the form the artwork takes, it’s about seeing things afresh.

Lauren: Sometimes it’s good to view art in its own right, not just on clothing. For me, going to the London Art Fair reignited my roots, getting inspiration from tactile form and collage, which is something I studied in depth in my photography degree. It’s also about simply immersing yourself in different experiences, this is when the creative process begins.

Animal at the London Art Fair - The hall was filled with inspirational art

Three floors bursting with artwork from 129 galleries

First impressions?

Aron: Massive, on a far bigger scale than I ever imagined. The exhibition was spread over three floors, with lots of subsections for the different galleries. It was definitely about the workings of the art world as it was immediately obvious there were a lot of people wanting to purchase. That said; it still had a really good vibe. The gallery representatives were very approachable and wanted to talk about the artists they represented.

Rose: Not being a VIP we didn’t get to walk in on the red carpet! Instead we headed straight to the Light Box (exhibiting highlights from the Ingram Collection) where, under this huge white canopy, curators, art dealers and seriously well dressed collectors hovered around wonderful works of art on display for us to view.

Lauren: It was pretty overwhelming, wall-to-wall art, cubbyholes of inspiration just waiting to be explored.

What caught your attention?

Aron: Different ways of working, especially an artist called Sue Williams A’Court. She creates almost classical landscape scenes but from collaging the tiniest pieces of paper and card. You could tell that each piece was chosen for its particular shade, to create the contrast and definition needed. Making it would involve the most incredible dedication to detail.

Rose: Oil paintings, mud paintings, intricate pencil drawings, collages, fine art... There was even live art with these women in beautiful long dresses made of painter’s linen, illuminated to really bring the textiles to life. Bronze statues costing £50,000 and above, as well as a stainless steel lobster made up of found materials—what I think were broken car parts, wing mirrors and perhaps even bits of a clarinet. Tall handmade ceramics over 26 years old, looking for an owner at a hefty price of £7,000. I found myself attracted to all manner of artworks but most of all ones that were drawn roughly in pencil or charcoal.

Lauren: For me, the biggest impact was seeing things physically, art as an object, not just a painting or graphic. There was a particular piece by a Korean artist, Chun Kwang Young that really stuck with me. It was constructed from thousands of triangular boxes, wrapped in mulberry paper. From the distance, it felt really painterly and dreamy but then when you got up close it was all these boxes tied together with thread. I think it relates to his mother –his childhood memories of the traditional mulberry paper being intertwined with his recollections of her. It just made me really consider how art is created, it was a new way of looking.

Animal at the London Art Fair - the mind boggling piece by Chun Kwang Young

Detail from work by Chun Kwang Young

Why are research trips like this important to the process of creating a new collection for Animal?

Rose: When you’re in the process of designing a collection for a specific season, you get this super intense ten week period to execute the designs. Once it’s done, before you can think about the next season, you need space to explore again.

Aron: That’s why research trips are really important. It gets you thinking, being playful. We want to create collections that inspire, are fun, what people want to wear, so we need to be in this mindset before we start.

Lauren: It doesn’t matter at this point whether what you go to see or do ends up being directly relevant to the products we create, as it’s more about a process of renewal. I’d kind of describe it as a reset button. You need to be able to move away from everything you’ve just done and start a fresh collection with new eyes and ideas.

Animal at the London Art Fair - creative wall

Animal at the London Art Fair - Sand adds texture to paintings

Animal at the London Art Fair - Intricate tiled flooring

Inspiration is everywhere: a quick trip to Gustav Metzger at Tate Modern; sand brings texture to paintings; an intricate tiled floor catches the eye.

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