I was asked to design a T'Shirt for Faction athlete Alexi Micinski. We exchanged emails about the idea and from our chats I learnt that she was (obviously) very into the mountains and the fun you could have on them, from winter through summer.
I created a drawing with clouds, mountains, the beginning of a rising sun, waves and water. I wanted to run with the energy of those elements and include themes from the Ambit ski.
The Ambit ski has a bird theme running through it and a Japanese narration behind the artwork. So, what has evolved is an illustration that’s inspired by style of Japanese art called “Jiyuka” It’s most basic interpretation is freestyle creativity!
Jiyuka literally means “free flower” and is a form of ikebana. The spiritual aspect of ikebana is very important to its practitioners. It’s about appreciating things in nature that people often overlook because of their busy lives.
The thing I really liked about this project was that it was a little like I was trying to create a portrait of Alexi, by expressing her interests and passion for the mountains. I hope it does her justice and brings her luck with her skiing.
Proceeds from the sale of the t-shirts go directly to support Alexi’s recovery, travel and training.
July 2014, Faction ship Rosie and I off to sunny Capbreton France, to recreate the designs for the 2014/15 women’s ski line. Our good friends Beanie and Xavier De Le Rue were the generous hosts. Melody Sky was also alongside us as our champion story teller, and you can see the short film she made about how we created the art on my “film” page.
The trip was literally paint, paint, paint! But somehow within our 19 hour days Rosie and I managed to fit in some shenanigans. I shall forever have fond memories of………..
>Waking up with the sun<
>Painting barefoot amongst the collection of surfboards by the door<
>Drinking cups of tea in the shade of the citrus trees<
>Dancing to C2C with Rosie at 3am to keep ourselves awake enough to paint<
>The feeling of achievement at the end of the week when we cycled down to the ice-cream parlour<
In the beginning there was a strong desire to create something separate for women. It feels like the women’s skis have come full now though, their performance levels are demanding less obvious segregation.
This years skis are about celebrating female qualities, and creating something bold, fierce, and unique.
For me the 2017/18 line became a homage to the artists I love. There is a theory that every new creation begins with an idea already born. In the past artists were trained by masters, or went to exclusive teaching schools to learn a particular formula of painting. Apprentices were proud to emulate the work of their mentors before going on to develop their own unique styles. So how do artists learn now if you dont go to art school.....from the internet....sometimes.....from the street.......Yes!
Working at Faction has broadened my horizons. They continually gave me a platform to experiment with ideas. There were no boundaries to stop me from exploring. And that pushed me to search for new techniques, new styles, and develop as a painter. And my favourite place to find inspiration is from the street.
This year I wanted to celebrate the artists that inspire me. Using photographs from my adventures to Bali, Japan, and Europe I adapted their styles to narrate my experiences, and hopefully connect to the skiers that click into the skis.
In October 2013 Faction teamed up with the Peloton & Co store in Spitalfields London to create a winter base for their 2013/14 collection.
Thursday 24th October was the launch party to showcase the art and products. And in usual skier style we gathered up our stuff that very morning and pegged it to East London. Just like we were running for the first lift- with toast in our mouths, and our ski boots still undone.
I had enlisted the help of 2 friends with van, to transport the 3 paintings that had become the original art for the women skis that year. On arrival I found the rest of the Faction gang busing around hanging jackets, creating wall bio’s, and placing skis…trying not to disrupt the existing products and members off staff that already resided there.
We hung 2 of my pieces over the coffee bar, and the other next to the women’s line display. And once everyone was happy with their efforts we did the next important thing of all going for food and having a good old catch up.
Later that evening the in store party filled up with Faction friends, but being shy of a drink I did my usual disappearing act to meet up with an old friend for a cup of tea.
Year 2 of the women's line up began over a brain storming session in the original Faction HQ. Tony and I chatted the morning away about the art we like and how we could create something unique for the ski designs. The Ambit ski was born from 3 separate ideas that I had in my sketchbook and how to join them up to create something unusual and quirky.
The Supertonic was inspired by a random street art symbol that I had tagged on an old canvas, destined for the scrap pile. This canvas had somehow made it onto a photograph of something else we were looking at, and yet Tony's creative eye had spotted it. I remember his words being "That's a design, right there!" From that one happy accident we developed the rest of the ski art.
These are my favourite things about Faction. Never looking for the obvious they seek to create the new by hunting for ideas and never ruling anything out. The whole line has been about seeking out inspiration. A skateboard graphic, a wave collage forged from a day sat on the beach with a bust up ACL. Real moments, becoming realised art.
I always search for a narrative to go with my artwork. Wether it's a personal experience I have somewhere, or an interesting story I come across. And all the content in the artwork for the skis comes from things I've seen in nature.
Two of the designs are expressive of the shapes and patterns I observed on my travels this spring. A contrast of natural and man made objects, rhythmic patterns, and exotic forms that represent the organised chaos of the environment.
The Ambit ski manifested from a story I read concerning the natural disaster in Japan. Thousands of birds were killed by the giant waves that were triggered from the tsunami onto the Midway Atoll in Hawaii. The fragmented detail in this art represents the debris that was carried in with the waves, and the birds featured are the two main species caught in the disaster; the Laysan Albatross, and the Bonin Petrel.
“Even though there is a fragility to life, there is also strength in it's regeneration”
Here are the ideas behind the Faction Women's winter 2015/16 collection. Craig Douglas made a be-witching film about the process which is on my front page (Process Vol 1). Im so lucky to be surrounded by talented friends who excel the project into something beyond my imagination.
I gather my tools for creativity. My sketch books and my thoughts. I need to have a certain amount of structure or my mind’s too chaotic. I try to get outside everyday. The mountains are the best for this, or some other infinite vista….an ocean, or a vast plain. The seemingly never-ending feels powerful yet charismatic, and observing something thats slightly overwhelming keeps me from falling into comfortable ruts.
The paintings take on a life of their own. I try to create a map in which I can navigate their manifestation in the hope this might give me a smoother ride, but eventually I hit stumbling blocks or a multiple lane highway of things that need attention. The finished piece is the result of a personal journey, and like any undertaking into the unknown you discover more about yourself along the way.
Laying down the first marks and colours the paintings start to show their first signs of life and their character develops. Into what? Im not sure. Even with all the preparation Ive done they’ll still form their own personality and I’ll have to respect it, work with it, and hope it’s willing to communicate!
Sometimes the simplest things work. On the way to making something complicated, something simple stands out, so obvious and striking that it paralyses you from making another mark. For many things this is where you should stop and accept that less is more. That the painting is communicating clearly, and to do more would be to add white noise.
Flow, not Perfection
I have to remind myself to step away from concerns about trying to impress myself or others with what Im creating. It’s difficult to continually expose yourself and not be caught up in aesthetics. The best art (like the best people) is when it becomes unravelled. When you strip away the contrived surface that’s trying to be perfect. You get to see more quirky characteristics that express a story and a uniqueness that expands your thoughts.
Let your freak flag fly
Each painting has evolved from ideas that started out as one thing and became something new. They are an eclectic mix just like the girls who ride the skis. All Five pieces were an experiment of allowing technique to flow and playing around with structure. I think this is a notion that any girl who has trained at her skiing can relate to. Sometimes you need to push against the environment that’s shaping you. To remind yourself that there are other ways to do things. Focus on your uniqueness and your passions.
"Practice gives us freedom
And from freedom there is expression"
It's taken me a long time to be able to figure out in words what these paintings are about. Because to me art starts as an idea. If I had a theory then maybe Id be a writer instead. I create art because Im fuelled by what I see around me. It can be other peoples art, an accidental swipe of paint on a brick wall, to the views and vistas that take my breath away when Im travelling. My visuals are inspired by other visuals and the need to belong to that world of people who paint things.
I have been living in the suburbs for a couple of years now. It's a temporary move and I look forward to the day I am back in the mountains. It's a very different way of life here in suburbia, it's one I remember, but one I chose to leave when I moved to Verbier 11 years ago.
There is a freedom to your lifestyle when you live near nature and going from one adventure to the next becomes the rhythm of your life. Here in suburbia you weave yourself through a maze of buildings and businesses to go about your day. It makes me more introverted. With no accessible galleries I look more to street art for my fix and familiarity.
The work this year is about finding freedom within any situation. Interpreting the things within your heart and soul to keep your spirit alive. Hopefully you can see the influence of street art techniques and mark making, and how stories and imagination can bring light and life to any environment.
>Put down the magazines<
>Turn off the TV<
>Go on adventures<
>Swim in lakes<
>Look under rocks<
The purity in abstraction comes from observing the painting and letting it show you what comes next.
Applying the paint with as little contrition as possible, so nothing is forced. So there exists something real and free and interesting.