From Corporate to Fashion

As a kid I wanted to be a pilot. The supersonic aircrafts looked so exciting. Later I found out that I couldn’t do it because of my myopia and astigmatism. Honestly I was really sad. I would never be able to feel all the adrenaline and be a cool adult. But like all the kids I had tons of other dreams. I ended up studying Criminology. I wanted to understand what motivates someone to deviate from the norm. What is their story? This bachelor degree ended up being a disappointment. Not only did the Law Faculty had an old school approach to crime but I also started considering creative careers. I
felt like a misfit although I was able to find my tribe there. Nevertheless I finished my
degree and never worked in criminology.

I don’t remember how my interest in fashion started. I guess it was always there but I was ignoring or avoiding it. So in 2014 I did a course in Fashion Image and Styling. I loved the experience! I finally found a way to express my creativity in a way that I liked. This was even more interesting when during a summer I went to Central Saint Martins. That first creative experience in London changed my mindset and what I thought I wanted for myself. However the dream died when I got back to Portugal and it took me some years to lose the fear. It was in 2019 that my life changed. I was working in a company assisting a team leader and learning engineering crazy stuff. It was an ok job but I was really unhappy.


So I started thinking about what made me happy, what was my dream and goal in life. After realising that I came so far doing something that I didn’t like. I imagined how my life would be if I did the same with something that I loved. Losing the fear was empowering. My goal became to move to London until the end of 2019 and start working in fashion. I didn’t know how I was going to do it but I wanted this for real that time. In August I quit my job and did it. It was the best decision of my life! Through Instagram I met Vanessa Davinia. She was the first one to give me an opportunity. She didn’t know me in person but she did it. My first experience was at London Fashion Week. Backstage work is insane but I loved every minute. And from then on I just said yes to all the opportunities. I met amazing creatives, got published, went to Paris Fashion Week, did an internship in a PR…I also styled a music video which happened way sooner than I expected. I am feeling for the first time the power and support of a community which is different from a corporate environment. Everything still feels like a dream! Although I am very new to the fashion industry, I know how ugly it can be sometimes. But there’s enough space for everyone and people sometimes forget that. We can get inspired by everything around us and everyone has an unique background, fears and hopes. Now I am taking my first steps in a startup, I just continue to say yes.

A little bit about the author:
Manuela is a freelance fashion stylist based in London.
A curious soul that loves to explore and understand other cultures. She found in fashion a
way to express her creativity. After living in four countries she never stopped wanting to
settle in London. Her inspiration comes from everything related to everyday life. From
books, magazines, movies to observing people in the street. A bit of a daydreamer that
sometimes gets lost in her own thoughts she is always looking to get out of her comfort
zone.

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#quarantineinbloom by Sophia

Sophia on her work:

Usually I try to sketch and carry a sketchbook with me most days, whether at an exhibition, lecture, or simply out and about. However, the current pandemic has left me furloughed from my full-time job, but still actively freelancing regularly. I am thankful for this flexible form of employment. I am, as the days go on, creating a series of drawings called #quarantineinbloom, centred around the vast array of plants that I am lucky to have in my home, along with those that I forage on my daily walks around my local area. I enjoy drawing in detail, with thin pen strokes, using pens like you would a pencil, by shading and building up forms using hatching to build definition. By drawing plants and flowers, I am able to focus on individual growing forms that change with time and the surrounding environment and it allows me to create in the moment and not be such a perfectionist.

The plants I’ve sketched are in different life stages; some I am re-growing from vegetables, some plants are still very young or budding, some have slightly wilted in the sun or others are just a single branch or flower. I have been told I have drawn the series, quite detailed at times, like architectural components slotting together. Given my background in architectural design, I guess I do see them as forms piecing together and I process the individual components quite meticulously as I draw them. Sometimes I try to be a lot freer and experiment with colour, yet I definitely feel more confident using black fine line pens, so the more colourful additions are remaining in my sketchbooks for the time being.

I use my drawing time to break up my days, as a form of art-based therapy, with my headphones in, either listening to music or a podcast. This mantra, however, is with the exception of the English Lime Tree that I worked on across two days due to the scale of it. When I am drawing, I zone out from what is happening around me and I lose track of time – in a good way, it’s something very routine to me now, like daily exercise where you can completely release. My mind focuses on only the drawing and as someone who can get easily distracted, I don’t when I draw. It has definitely felt like a massive mental release. I have also learnt even more about plants and flowers. With those I don’t know of instantly, I research their characteristics, identify them and love the process of learning. Coming from a family of keen gardeners, I have found myself even more interested in learning about native and non-native species and which seasons they bloom in. The process has sparked some great conversations about plants with family and friends.

I think that drawing this series has helped me feel productive and positive in these turbulent times, I will look back on this collection and be reminded of the positive drawing sessions. It also makes me happy that other people are enjoying my sketches and can see the progression with each one.  I have spoken to friends in similar employment situations, who have told me my sketches have also inspired them to get back into creating, I am very grateful to be surrounded by lots of like-minded and creative people. I have also been partaking in online art classes with people around the world and I have even moved onto scanning and printing a selection that I have been sharing with friends and selling online. I think art has definitely brought many people even closer together.

A little bit about the author:

Sophia is a freelance architecture creative working in London. During the lockdown period, she has been furloughed from her full time job as a Social Media and Marketing Manager for a Festival and Event App but still maintain her weekly freelancing job as an Architecture PR and Marketing Consultant for a London based Architecture practice. Sophia’s background is in Architectural Design, however she recently completed a Masters in Architectural History last September, in which she wrote about warehouse culture  and the housing crisis in her thesis, music festivals and cultural appropriation (a range, she knows).
Sophia also loves to draw and have propelled her creativity into drawing and sketching through lockdown and has been working on a sketch series called #quarantineinbloom which is a set of drawings of foraged flowers and plants, along with those she is lucky to have in her family home. 

  • To connect with Sophia or see more of her work go to:
  • Instagram – @sophiasketchstudio
  • LinkedIn – Sophia Edwards

Corona Virus in visuals by Sam

Let’s hear a bit about Sam’s pieces before we move on to the pieces themselves:

The Corona virus Updates series are my response to the lock down and COVID-19 pandemic. As an illustrator with healthcare part-time job I could see how the Novel Corona virus affects everyone’s life as well as the health services. I noticed change in my behaviour and behaviour of others, that inspired me to start the Corona virus Updates series of illustrations and express my feelings throughout artistry.

A little bit about the author:

My name is Sam. I am a second year student at UAL specialising in Illustration and Visual Media. I consider myself to be creative as well as reliable and enjoy working within a team. I have both practical and digital communication skills, from print making through to animation as well as experience of specialist software. After training as a painter, it felt like natural progression to expand my skill-set to digital design and illustration. I find inspiration everywhere, from classical literature to disposable pop culture. I continue my creative passion in my spare time by hand customising vintage clothing, cooking and visiting galleries and museums.

Few things to know about me:

I’m a twenty-something-sassy-polish boy living in London.

I have great passion for art.

I love dearly my boyfriend, friends, family but especially my bed.

I am obsessed with dachshunds (sausage dogs) and I hope to get one for Christmas.

To connect with Sam or see more of his work go to:

Things to Get You Through by Sophie

What was the main inspiration behind Things to Get You Through?

I was inspired to create the ‘Things to Get You Through’ series when I was writing a list of my favourite feelings in the world, in a bid to make me feel better about feeling strange and restless inside the house. It was a hopeful attempt to hang on to life’s great pickings, even when they are out of reach during lockdown. These memories of contentment washed over me and I felt instantly better, excited even, for all the life to be had, all the immense times to come. I wanted to share them, so other people could remember and feel better too.

A little bit about the author:

 I am poet and copywriter from East London, delightfully basking in the country life in the West of Scotland (did we move here so that we could wear jumpers all year round? Yeah, we did). My work is nostalgic and coastal – the sun or the sea or the trees usually creep up in my words one way or another. I enjoy period-dramas, driving at dusk, coming-of-age films and snacking on bourbon biscuits, in good times and bad. 

Growth by Cerri

A little bit about the origins of the project:

This three part project was written during #escapril (an instagram poetry challenge) and it was my first year attempting the challenge. The series is composed of three poems, each poem having a stylised self portrait to go with it. The poems portray the journey of a blossoming of an individual: tearing yourself down, building yourself up, blooming, feeling beautiful, and seeing the fruits of your labour first hand.


A little bit about the author:

Cerri – an artist and poet who’s work often centres in themes of Queer identity and the struggles that come with it, yet also self-love and individuality.

To connect with Cerri or see more of their work go to:

  • Instagram – @cerri_xoxo

Photos in the Afternoon by Maddie

Now winter has passed and spring has begun, stretching the daylight into the evenings. I’ve enjoyed walking in the late-afternoon again. No longer a completely solitary experience; I am accompanied by a clunky camera, one of those big professional looking ones with the cardboard tube-like lens. The strap is wildly uncomfortable, pressing into my neck and rubbing its nylon edges onto my skin as I walk. Though, if I position my scarf correctly I can avoid obtaining two raw pink slashes across the base of my neck. Each afternoon I’ve tried to construct a new route to take, building up my collection of photographs: too many telegraph poles with sloping wires shooting off in different directions, birds on rooftops, family bike rides, my own shadow trailing limbs & contorted, bending over the curb of pavements, the final threads of five o’clock sun.

I have no idea what I’m doing of course, no idea about angles or composition, exposure or shutter speed, what each little symbol means or if i really should have pressed that button. I’m enjoying winging it, it feels freeing, pure enjoyment in capturing little moments of a day regardless of how it turns out. Capitalism tricks us into believing that hobbies should have some end product, that they should be monetised and be constantly generating profit. But I’ll let you into a secret: a hobby is a hobby if you enjoy it. You don’t have to be good at it, you simply have to enjoy it, there needn’t be any end goal. Of course it’s hard to escape the guilt capitalism enshrines in us for spending any moment of our lives not being productive, not making you or anyone else money but I, for one, don’t want to monetise my hobbies. I don’t want capitalism to suck the fun out of it. It’s mine. It’s at my own pace, it’s whatever I want it to be and to do when I want. 

This new found love has (like always) extended into diving into reading as much as I can dig out from the digital cosmos (google) about photography. Admittedly most of this has been reading about photographers; I’m endlessly interested in the lives of other people and how their experience informs their art. I think that’s what draws me to street photography more than any other “style”. It’s experience encapsulated in a small rectangular box. Unapologetic in its honesty, so perfectly ordinary that I feel the images can be matched to parts of my own life, photos feeling like jigsaw pieces from my own little puzzle. I found myself drawn to Helen Levitt’s work, from her candid black and white shots to vintage dye-colour transfer prints that are so lucious in colour they are almost startling, shaking up memories. It seems the best photographers hold their own unique distinguishable qualities, easy to match their name to their work. The name ‘William Eggleston’ is flashing across my brain like an LED moving sign. He sits on a throne of brilliance (well, at least, he should), his photography is nostalgic and poetic; the soft sensitivity to colour and light drifts me back to a summer afternoon in childhood, face freckled and pink, spilling a trail of watery footprints down the driveway and across the street, chasing down the ice cream van. 

I wish the inspiration I’ve found in the work of Helen Levitt or William Eggleston, Vivian Maier or Jeff Mermeistien could magically grant me the skill to capture an entire narrative in a single frame, capture emotional resonance in the ordinary. But, for now, I’ll keep enjoying the afternoons taking not-so-great photos. (10,000 hours to master a skill. Right?)

A little bit about the author:

I’m Maddie, a second year BA English and Creative writing student based in the North West of England. I’m currently in pursuit of part-time/ freelance work to undertake alongside my studies, ideally related to contemporary art and culture, as well as social and collective issues. 

I also write fiction and poetry, and I’m currently working on a piece of short fiction inspired by the work of Shirley Jackson. 

As an enthusiastic, adaptable and inquisitive freelancer I’m eager to expand my writing portfolio and always open to new creative collaborations. I’m also passionate about volunteering for non-profit organisations. 

Miruna’s enigmatic digital collage

A little bit about Miruna’s work:

Rendered as a digital collage of fluid shapes and vivid colours, the illustration focuses on several different concepts, drawing inspiration from classical renaissance themes, the well known “Madonna with child”, infused with less overt symbols represented by natural insertions.  For instance, the honey bees  simultaneously conjure the theme of maternity as well as evoking images often associated with pollinators, blossoms, sunlight, and such, creating a cathartic effect.

About the author:

Miruna Șerban is a young Romanian illustrator and high school student in her last year, passionate about art, illustration, history and journalism. She has had the opportunity to study arts and art history since 2017 and in doing so she was able to develop numerous artistic skills, a unique creative perspective and a critic eye for everything visual.

During her time studying art she had the opportunity to learn and practice tech graphic arts, classical printmaking, such as xylopgrapy, dry point, aquatint, aqua-forte, digital and traditional illustrations, as well as clay modelling, composition, painting and charcoal portraits. Her work focuses mainly on mystery and obscure messages, using different motives and key elements in order to transcend the viewer into her world. Her illustrations have an organic narrative-like thread alongside a very gentle expressive line.

As an art student, she enjoys going to museums, studying philosophy, reading fiction and non-fiction alike, looking for the next book to illustrate. She also participated at one of the biggest design and architecture expositions in Bucharest as a volunteer. During that event she was able to discover and interact with creatives alike, while understanding more about the dos and don’ts of organizing an art exposition.

Miruna also enjoys writing, dabbling with poetry, articles and essays and is currently developing her first book of poems she intends to publish along complementary illustrations. She aims to further continue her studies by exploring animation, graphic design and digital and classical oil painting.

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You Never Know by Dila Toplusoy

Poem Description:

I wrote this short, free-verse poem when I first started exploring writing poetry, about two years ago. It was inspired and motivated by this very idea of exploring something new, in this case a new form of writing, while also naturally exploring yourself, your gifts, instincts, passions. It’s more precisely about summoning up the courage to explore and tap into those passions and instincts, through embracing the state of not knowing what might happen when you take that step, instead of never knowing what might’ve happened if you had taken it… So, in a way this poem is the embodiment of that idea to me, as writing it is one of the steps I took to remind my then-future self that not knowing can be beautiful, if we let ourselves rest in it. And I hope, even believe, that we can.

You Never Know

You will know

When it’s time

Show who you are

No matter where

No matter how

You never know

Who you might inspire

What spark

You might ignite

You will never know

If you don’t start

Similar skies

Seek each other

Until they unite

Somewhere

Somehow

You never know

A little bit about the author:

Dila Toplusoy is a 25-year-old freelance writer from Istanbul, Turkey. She graduated from University of the Arts London with a first-class honours BA (Hons) in Media and Cultural Studies. Following her degree, she completed an intensive certificate program in Art Business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. During and after her studies, she worked in various positions with arts and cultural organisations such as Arter, InogarArt, Istanbul ’74, Zorlu Performing Arts Center and Art Night London. Her passions lie in creative and non-fiction writing, storytelling, editing, proofreading, translation and research. Most of her writing revolves around the themes of our shared human experience and inner/outer relationships, mindful and compassionate living, modern and contemporary art and culture, as well as current social issues. As a young writer currently navigating the freelance world, she is deeply interested in human-oriented and collaborative organizations and projects, where she can fulfill her creative potential while building authentic connections and making meaningful contributions that last.

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The Source by Maria Krupa

The Source

30×40, 2020, oil paints
This work is a part of series called: Bodies and Deformations. The subject of this paining revolves around  finding the true source of physical and mental sensation. It’s also based on the idea of passing time visible on human body. The organic forms get together to visualise the unity of abstract art and parts of the body. The composition is created in a special way to cause feeling of disruption. Different shades of red and pink generate the symbiosis between the subject of the painting, its structure and the formal elements. 

The source by Maria Krupa

A little bit about the author:

Maria studies painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, Poland. She lives and creates in Gdynia. Her main field of interest is the idea of time, disappearing and evanescence. Her creations are often connected with minimal and abstract art. Laureate of the painting contest “Wiersz+” “Malujemy Gałczyńskiego w 110. Rocznicę urodzin poety”. Took part in national exhibitions such as “The Lords of the Time”, “Girls2: Breasts”, “Mock-up” and other.

To see more of her work or get in touch go to:

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A Spark of Life by Gwen Weir

A Spark of Life

Gwen Weir

The first thing I noticed was that it was dark. Almost pitch black in fact, but I could more sense than see a light coming from somewhere. I tried to orient myself so that I could face the light, but I couldn’t move. My whole being was swaddled in something. There was barely a pocket of air between me and the musty material that surrounded me. I swelled myself up as much as I could, trying to create some space. A loud crack rattled through me, and I was able to reach a part of me out; I couldn’t tell what part, but it was so good to reach out and feel a cold dampness. I revelled in that for a while, unaware of time passing.

Later, a long time later I think, it seemed brighter. Every inch of me was warmer and I could feel the close embrace of the small world that I was enclosed within. I realised that there must have been another crack, because now there was another part of me that was able to stretch out. I was more sure of this part of me; I was definitely moving and it felt like I was moving towards that light.

***

I was drained. The cocoon around me felt stifling; it was hotter than it had been and I couldn’t focus. Then everything got better suddenly; first it got much darker, then cooler, then I was soaked. I felt myself come alive as the magnificent moisture soaked in through every fibre of my being.

Everything happened faster after that. Once the cold wet had stopped its torrent, the light was closer still. I could almost feel it now: it was just beyond the home-dark.

Then, in one glorious moment, I was free.

At first, the brightness was too much. A white glare that stopped me from being able to make out anything around me. After a while, I was able to unfurl a little and I could perceive a world so unlike the one in which I had found my consciousness. It was all many colours. The nearest colours were shades of the same darkness that had enclosed me; they were familiar and warmth filled me when I recognised these colours.

Further away, I found another colour. Looking down at myself, I realised that these coloured things were similar shades to me. Some of them were different shapes, but that felt good too; there were other things that were like-me.

When I turned to face the warmth – the light – I realised that there were colours beyond counting. Some of them were mingled with the things that were the same shade as me – anchored into the home-dark. Other colours were further away still; they weren’t attached to anything. They danced around, free from the home-dark. Some zipped fast, others lazily whirled. There was even one thing, a mix of colours, that seemed to visit each of the like-me things, whispering at one in its bright colour, then moving on to the next.

As the light beamed down, a warmth filled me and I swelled with joy.

A little bit about the Author:

Gwen Weir is a UK based writer of short stories. An avid reader, she developed a passion for fiction and has been writing for a number of years. Currently working towards her Masters Degree in Creative Writing through the Open University, Gwen has written in many genres, including crime thriller, science fiction and fantasy, and has published work in eZines in 2020. When not writing, Gwen is a Primary School Teacher (who also writes with her classes). She enjoys exploring the wilder, more remote parts of the UK with her husband; wild-camping, campervanning, or on their motorcycles.

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