The "Urban Environment" Project

For my second scheduled blog post, I thought I'd try something a little different. I thought I would share with you all, my latest project which I just finished on my foundation course. Which if you don't already know, I'm currently studying on a foundation course at the City of Liverpool College (art and design) specialising in fashion. The project was entitled the "Urban Environment" and so here it is. Oh and if you're interested in what I get up to, follow me on Instagram, I try to upload as much as I can from my day.

Research: Out and About
Unlike most projects we've done so far this year, we went out into Liverpool City Centre individually or in small groups and took photographs for research and inspiration. Photographs of what we thought the urban environment meant to us. I initially had a plan for the project to be predominantly of Liverpool's most iconic buildings. This led to taking photographs of the Liverbird Building, Cunard Building, Port of Liverpool Building and the Metropolitan Cathedral, amongst others. I thought these could make amazing prints. However whilst wondering around and exploring Liverpool, what caught my attention most was the graffiti-filled streets of Ropewalks. I have previously enjoyed graffiti when I was a few years younger so it made sense to go with that concept. What draws me in most is the bold statement a piece of graffiti makes, of course with it's graphic form and bright colours as well. Here are some photographs from that morning.

Observational Studies: A1 Paper
After our research, we then completed a series of large observational studies using a variety of drawing mediums. The first drawing I done was a continuous line drawing with a graphite stick of the Cunard Building. The second of the Liverbird Building with fine liner and watercolour wash. Stick and ink drawing a Georgian Townhouse located on Canning Street. White chalk on black sugar paper of two of the three recently built Mann Island building. Graffiti-filled wall with Letraset Promarkers around Ropewalks. Port of Liverpool Building in fine liner and watercolour and finally candle wax, ink and oil pastels for the Metropolitan Cathedral. Both the drawings and photographs would be stuck in our sketchbooks with annotation, stating what, where and why we chose each building or area.

Artist/Designer Research
After completing a series of drawings, we then went ahead with researching various artists or designers which may help influence our own work. At the start of each project we have a powerpoint presentation given to us to show us artists we may have not heard of before, but would work with the project. Having that presented to you gives you a good starting point if you're kind of struggling a bit. I started with Lucinda Rogers, who produces some beautiful line drawings, sometimes with blocks of colour in cool spots around London and New York. I love how she captures a sense of vibe and movement in her artwork. We then as a group headed to a local library, in which I discovered a book (Collezioni AW2003/2004) Which shows all of the menswear collections from Milan, Paris, New York and Barcelona that season. I already had an idea of basing whatever I make from the sort of early 2000's so this book was a great help. I found some amazing graffiti-esque collections from Bernard Willhelm, Agatha Ruiz De La Prada, Armand Basi and Ecko. What I also found quite amusing was a very young Channing Tatum from back in his modelling days. Marc By Marc Jacobs AW14 by Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley was really influential. What I also found to have a clear statement was Walter Van Beirendonck's latest collection "Stop Terrorising Our World" and I also researched into skate culture. As for other designers who have worked a lot in the past with neoprene, I looked at Juun.J.

Materials Research
Materials research is of course a key part to any fashion design process. Some designers like to work with materials before they find inspiration in other areas or being sketching first, I know Gareth Pugh prefers to experiment with materials first. This year we've had a go at doing each one first, this one we took photos, the last one the "Paper Dress" project we played around with variations of paper available to us first. Because our projects only run for four weeks, everything is a little rushed, due to such a small time frame. Saying that because I bought one and a half metres of navy coloured neoprene, before sampling it first and I'm saying definitely sample materials before taking the plunge and buying what you hope to use. You'll understand why a little later on in the post. I bought my material from Abakhan fabrics in Liverpool, and I remember when watching Styled to Rock UK a couple of years back now, Henry Holland's advice on know exactly what you want before heading into the fabric show, because otherwise you'll end up with something you didn't originally want.

Materials Experiments
Because I was inspired by creating something associated with graffiti and then onto the skate scene (Because you tend to see graffiti in skateparks) I wanted to somehow incorporate graffiti into my garments. At first I had the idea of getting my design that I digitally painted on the Sketchbook App for iPad professionally laser printed, but then it occurred to me that this would perhaps be to costly and it just weren't worth it. If my career was a fashion designer and hopefully it will be then yes, but not for my Foundation year. A much cheaper option was photo transfer paper, which I think was £3.00 from ASDA? It's really simple to use, you print your design as normal onto the the plain side of the paper (Grid design on opposite side of paper) Cut around you image, not exact but quite close few millimetres gap is fine, face the image down on the material and at the highest temperature possible iron over it for 60-90 seconds in consistent circular movements. Wait a few minutes and carefully peal top layer off, not too fast and not too slow. REMEMBER: If you're incorporating text you have to flip horizontally otherwise it'll read backwards. It was hard to get the colours right because the material was so dark, if I experimented first before buying the one and a half metres this would have changed for the better. But like I said, it's a four week project. I though spray paint would be a good idea, but that failed miserably haha.

Design Sketches
The design stage is probably my favourite area, maybe that's just because of my background with loving art and design from primary school, to secondary and sixth form. I now have a preferred style of sketching out designs and that is again on the Sketchbook app this time for both iPhone and iPad. At times I may use colour, but for these sketches I kept them black and white. I have a produced a series of eight design ideas, which for one outfit and four week project is plenty ideas. I focused on street style essentials for the most part, skate aesthetics like loose T-shirts, sweatshirts and shorts. I kept the drawings simple, not to a point in which you can't understand what they are. This was the first project this year in which I was planning to design and make an actual item of clothing. Not a mask, or antler headpiece, dress made out of paper, real wearable clothes and I was extremely excited. I chose not to annotate the drawings. If you're gonna sketch something and forget a certain part then I would suggest making a quick note with an arrow but I didn't feel the need  to this time around. Anyway here are my sketches.

Final Piece
Here are some images of my final piece. I made a crop-top for men to inject some androgyny into my piece, and a sense of unisex along with matching shorts. Not that I've ever been an a skateboard before, but I would consider this wearable for a skater. Would you? Both the crop-top and shorts are made from navy neoprene with photo transfers placed on both garments. The "JONATHAN JAMES" is actually my first and middle name, it's the name I would want if I were to eve have my own label. From a marketing point of view, I feel it rolls off of the tongue much better. The face is actually not my own design, where I live Widnes (Don't worry if you've never heard of it) this piece of graffiti which is only small, about four inches maybe? But it's everywhere and I thought it would be quite a cool idea to feature it in my final piece for the "Urban Environment" project.

I have another couple of photos yet to take, in a sort of ad campaign style. 

So that was today's blog post. How did you find it? If you would like me to keep you updated with my fashion related work let me know in the comments, or Tweet me/message me on Facebook etc. I don't mind how you contact me. Anyway, the project I'm currently working on is one I had dreamed of being handed to me it's entitled "Deconstruct, Reconstruct, Recycle" I think I may have mentioned this earlier, I upload most work to Instagram.
See you all next Friday and I hope you have a great weekend.
The Wolf of High Street