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Pants and printmaking

December 23, 2017

This semester I was lucky enough to take part in an art show after jumping fully into photo-emulsion printmaking with clothing as a medium. I’ve enjoyed printmaking since early high school, when I did multi-color wood block prints. This semester at Duke, I was able to explore screenprinting, which was a totally unique process from that of wood block printing. I began learning it for the express purpose of printing on a pair of jeans I no longer wear.

The first pair I made were from an old pair of Urban Outfitters high waisted skinny jeans I had stopped wearing. They're the Blonde jeans, and are made from the typography from Frank Ocean's album Blond, with phrases reading Blonde on Blonde, the Bob Dylan album; Blondie, the artist; and 4 Non Blondes, the band. The initial typography (the word Blond in Frank Ocean's album's typography) was a found piece from the print studio that I built off of with hand lettering on plastic transparencies. All the painted details -- the lines, the overlapping circles -- are made with printmaking materials like the lids to the paint containers and the rubber squeegee for pushing the ink through the screen. Then for a party I planned, I painted on a dress:

This piece was inspired by Clifford Still's PH-972, one of my favorite works by one of my favorite abstract expressionists. I love the way it turned out and wore it over a turtleneck to a job interview (I got the job). I also like to have it hanging on my wall. After these two pieces, I felt like I was done for the semester. I didn't have any particular motivation to make more works. But I ran into my friend Laure while wearing the Still dress, and she said her publication The Standard was looking for student artists for an art exhibition they were doing. She passed along my work to other organizers and I was asked to create 10 pairs of jeans and a couple shirts to show and sell at their event in a month. I ended up thrifting ten pairs of 100% cotton jeans and doing two series of jeans: the "Changes" jeans and the "Retrospective" jeans. The different series, to me, spoke to the things I've been feeling over the past few months. I've made sincere changes in my life, in order to focus on creative pursuits and allow myself to grow as a human rather than as a student or a member of any group. I've also spent time considering what came before, not only in my own life but in the histories of my family and the people around me.

By the time the event rolled around, I was pretty nervous but also excited for my works to be shown and even sold. I ended up also making 8 tees for the show to sell as well. I sold the jeans for $49 a pair and the shirts for $15 each, and actually ended up selling several of each. I'm really happy with how the event went, and I got to meet a bunch of cool people while I was there.

Looking forward, I'm not sure what I'll be doing with any screenprinting or jeans modification. A friend got me an embroidery kit for my birthday and I embroidered an abstract pattern onto one of the pairs I kept for myself; I've also been using my sewing machine to modify some clothes I have. It's worth it for me just to practice new things.

And, if you're looking to purchase a top or jeans, I can custom print on your own clothing for the same rate. Let me know!