*Hi Reader! Austin Eavesdropper is expanding its little team, and I’m excited to bring you some of our first guest contributions. First up this week: Austin Eavesdropper’s latest art + style writer, Jennifer King. Be sure to check out her beautiful blog, If I Must Say So.
Hello, Austin Eavesdropper readers! A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the third annual Texas Style Council right here in the ATX. Nearly 300 life and style bloggers, business owners, and just all-around fashionable ladies (and maybe a few gents) got together for three days of mingling and learning from some of the most delightful lifestyle bloggers around, including our own Tolly!
As a first-time TxSC attendee, I didn’t really know what I was getting into–just hoping to exchange a few business cards, discover a few new blogs, and learn a thing or two about content development and blogging in general.
TxSC definitely fulfilled all those expectations, but my favorite part was meeting some of Austin’s local, up-and-coming fashion designers in the flesh!
I met Chelsea Jones of the Austin label Jacq Jones during the TxSC clothing swap. I kept staring at her scarf and talking about how much I loved what she had going on there. I quickly learned she designed and made the piece herself as part of her Resort 2011 collection, Toxo-Philite, which means one who loves bows and arrows.
Since Chelsea wears almost everything she makes, I was able to get a pretty good idea of her collection and overall style as I hung out with her more throughout the conference. And then I just went home and ogled over it online for a while. We’re talking lots of hand-dyed silk pieces, colorful hand-sewn panels, and (my favorite part) reverse seams. This is where the meticulous construction shines through, and I love being able to touch and see all the raw edges of her designs.
Not only is Chelsea terribly sweet; she’s also super dedicated to making art, whether that’s through fashion, photography, or graphic design.
Now, let’s get to the interview, shall we? Take it away, Chelsea!
1. How and when did you figure out you wanted to become a fashion designer? What drove you in that direction?
I don’t know if I ever really decided I was going to be a fashion designer. I sewed a pair of velvet overalls for a stuffed animal when I was about 9 or 10 years old. Without any direction or guidance, I drew a pattern for the overalls, cut out the fabric and began creating the outfit. This first design was completely hand-sewn—couture, if you will—and finished off with turned down hems and tiny buttons. Somehow I just knew how to construct an outfit. I think it was a product of me being so interested in art as a child. I loved picking out clothes, drawing and painting. I started picking out my clothes when I was 3, I hand-painted my Keds when I was 4, and in high school I decided to design and sew my own prom dress. So, this love for clothing has been there all my life. I can’t really say what drove me in that direction, but I do know that I’ve always had an interest in the aesthetics of everyday life. I find design and art in most everything I do.
2. You’ve worked in the fashion industry since 2008, but you’re also a graphic designer and photographer. Which craft do you love the most and how do all three inspire your creativity?
I don’t think I love one more than the other, necessarily. I think mostly I just love working on something tactile. I love working in the darkroom developing photographs because you’re actually handling the image before it appears on paper. Recently I started making jewelry, and love the whole process—handling the silver, forming, hammering and soldering. Seeing a piece of art emerge out of a simple sketch or idea fuels my creativity.
3. What does your studio look like?
A mess. There’s always some sort of project going on. If I’m not making a piece of clothing, then I’m making a mosaic, drawing logo designs, researching inspiration, screen printing, etc. I have original watercolors that my grandmother painted hanging on the walls along with works from friends, or images that I’ve collected. They all play a part in who I am.
4. After working for Marc Jacobs in 2009, you spent a year living in Paris. How did that experience influence your vision for your first collection, Toxo-Philite?
It was mostly a return to personal creativity. In New York I was a little lost and worried about paying bills. I worked long hours and, for the most part, did not create any art. Living in Paris gave me freedom from focusing on what I didn’t have. In all honesty, my year in Paris was not easy, but it led me to a point where I wanted to focus on art again. It was in a little coffee shop in Paris where I first drew the Toxo-Philite logo in my sketchbook and pronounced the name in French. Toxo-Philite means “one who loves bows and arrows.” From age 8 to 18 I shot archery every summer at camp, and for me Toxo-Philite was a reminder to focus on that openness we have when we’re very young, that pure creativity and energy children have. Toxo-Philite was something I created in order to give myself the freedom to use that creativity.
5. What inspires your artistic style?
I love learning about other artists. I think I’m most inspired by seeing how other people execute their ideas. Our minds all work differently, so it’s interesting for me read about what someone else does with a similar idea. I also love reading about different periods in art history. And nature is a big one for me, too. Even though that sounds cliché, it’s definitely an easy place to find inspiration. It’s hard for me to see what I do as a new idea, but I feel that when creating art, I’m showing my viewpoint on something that has been done in hundreds of other ways.
I focus mostly texture and colors. I’m really attracted to patterns and repetition that can be found in nature. Artists I’m interested in right now are Andy Goldsworthy and Georgia O’Keefe’s abstract paintings. Her use of just 1-3 colors and shapes is intriguing to me. I love the balance she creates with such simplicity.
6. What’s your secret to living a creative life?
Practice. Like anything, it takes practice to be good at being creative. I still don’t think everything I do is creative. I have to be careful and allot time to create more, draw more, and to think more openly.
**After the interview, I (Jennifer) met up with Chelsea again to talk more about her plans for Jacq Jones in 2012. She’s thinking more custom-fit, made-to-order pieces, which would be perfect for the picky shopper like me who’s constantly dissatisfied by a fancy but ill-fitting garment.
It’s still in the works, but I can’t wait to hear more about that side of Jacq Jones.
Photos by Jessica Barley and Chelsea Jones