Lucy Graham studies textiles in the Belfast School of Art and she also works as a freelance creative, organising events among other things. From our vintage store we are talking to a multitalented artist whose grand ideas will change the world.
Let’s hear about them:
1. How did the way which you dressed changed since you were in your teens? Did you always have this talent for styling?
I’ve pretty much always been obsessed with clothes and looking extra! Putting together crazy outfits. I was forever playing dress up and ready my grandmothers fashion and interior design magazines. My grandmother is an incredibly stylish woman; bleached hair, patent leather heels, animal prints, layers of jewelry that jingle when she walks, and of course, never without her French manicure. Growing up around her influenced me a lot. However the more expressive I got, the more, was picked on in school. I had spent part of my young childhood in a wheelchair due to a disease in my hip and was so desperate to fit in and be liked that I abandoned all style and wanting to stand out at all and only wore boys clothes. tracksuits and sports tees and Nike air max!! It took me a long time to come around to choosing to express myself again and to embrace the joy of self-styling MORE than the fear of what other people may think of me. It wasn’t until my late teens that I fully began embracing and experimenting with my style again. I think it’s so important that we never lose that childlike ability to play with clothing and experiment without fear. That’s what I aim for now at least.
2. What you think about the reality that now- a days any person can easily consider themselves as a stylist, regardless of not having a formal background or important projects.
It’s a tough one, definitely a topic that swings both ways. Because if we are to police someone’s creativity, and say what they can and cannot do job wise, will be like going back to the pre-internet age where if you didn’t have the qualifications, you didn’t get the job. And now it’s amazing how open and accessible creative jobs can be! In our industry there is an element of ‘fake it till you make it’, and to step into rolls before you are necessarily ready for them (if I turned down every job that I didn’t feel ready for/qualified to do then my resume would be very sparse) and I do believe in embodying what you want to be and believing in that. At the end of the day your work will speak for yourself, and if an individual thrives at her or his job, it’s because they are talented and good to work with on every level. On the other hand, it can be frustrating seeing people falsely labeling themselves, and in a lot of ways, it can feel cheapening to being a stylist to have people believe that it is an easy role? I go back and forth on this one because the context where I come from in Belfast is very much one of DIY culture. There aren’t a lot of creative opportunities for creatives, never mind young creatives, which means that out of this environment and struggle has come a whole generation of young people who aren’t waiting around for people to show them the “correct” procedures how to make it in the industry. It’s completely self-taught, self-made, with this great network of young people leaning on and relying on one another to collaborate! If it wasn’t for this DIY culture and the other aspiring young creatives around me, I would not be where I am today. DIY culture is essential to the growth f creative community and policing that can be dangerous.
3. How do you organise your time so you can get to do so many of the activities you are passionately involved in?
OH MY. I struggle a lot if I am honest. you are receiving 30 plus dms a day on Instagram, never mind Facebook, WhatsApp, email, text, LinkedIn, and VFILES. Organizing that is very difficult because within that you have the legitimate messages that need your attention, people reaching out to collaborate and such, but you also have people wasting your time or asking you silly favors. For me, it’s important to have discernment for which are which so that your time can be optimized for the things that you actually need to do! I have the largest storage and data package possible for my iPhone (which kills me to pay for it) but I need it because so much of my work is done on the go, on the bus, voice notes walking through the city, emails on my lunch break. It’s a constant barrage if I’m honest, and it can be overwhelming. There have been times during the really busy seasons that I have brought on an assistant to help with the tasks that I physically cannot get done due to time limitations! I used to be able to get up really early and get my admin done for an hour before I went to University (where I study Fashion, Textile Art and Design), but recently I have been too exhausted. I work full time 5 days a week plus on my final year project, as well as one day a week in a vintage store called American Madness, then I do one day a week social media management for a local brand; plus extra events and freelance. I also work in my church as a youth leader for teens running programmes for them after school.I wish that there was a formula that you could follow, or that I could give to you to tell you how I stay organized.. but I would be lying if I did. I think at the end of the day it is just sheer determination. To do what you love and have the privilege to pursue that dream. Because not everybody can. Constant note taking and a Filofax are my saving graces.
4. How did you get into the night life industry?
I’ve always been into dance music, but I guess my true involvement began with AVA Festival and DSNT raves, alongside other independent club nights that I facilitated.It was early in my uni days and everything was new and fresh and exciting! Belfast is a good example of how subcultures are born through this melting pot of music, lifestyle, and fashion and I just loved every minute of it! My best friend was photographing the club nights and I was doing the social media coverage as well as modeling the merchandise for DSNT. This led to me actually styling, photographing and directing two consecutive Lookbooks for the AVA Festival Merchandise. I love the crossover between music and fashion and the real buzz that exist when all the local club kids are preparing their lewks for the next rave. Sadly I’ve had to step back from a lot of my involvement with nightlife for the time being, due to my degree. (I’m writing this in my pajamas sadly missing the DSNT 7th Birthday Rave here in Belfast) haha. Come graduation this July I’ll be back in the swing of it because I’ve missed it so much!!! The atmosphere, the production, the laughs, and the MUSIC. It really is a whole vibe.
5. What impact do you think fast fashion has on the environment?
Fast Fashion is the Devil. Period. The apparel industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions and remains the second largest industrial polluter, second only to oil. More than 150 billion garments are produced annually, enough to provide 20 new garments to every person on the planet, every year. And yet, does every person on the planet actually have 20 garments? It’s the rich westernized world becoming richer, fueled by their own greed, at the extent of the developing eastern countries who have to live with the first-hand effects of the rapidly changing environment. Chemical runoff from dying textile such as denim pollutes the drinking water as well as the water used for irrigating crops, meaning the chemical are directly ingested by those communities living and working in close proximity. I don’t even know where to start because it’s such a huge problem with no direct solution. Water waste/pollution is a big issue that could be easily avoided by manufacturers and designers switching to more soil friendly crops that rely on need up to 25% less water than cotton, such as hemp. Because textiles are being mass produced, for cheaper, in Eastern countries as opposed to being made in the EU or USA, air miles is also a contributing factor to climate change, as there is increased travel of the textiles to simply have them here in the U.K. The list goes on and on.
6. Do you consider yourself as a fashion anarchist?
A Fashion Anarchist! I love that term!!! Yes absolutely Because I operate entirely outside of the confines that the industry has put in place, and yet, I do operate in the Fashion industry. My mantra right now in life is that “just because no-one else is doing it, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.”. Meaning that just because the way that you work and make things happen is not the norm or the pattern that your peers are following does not mean in any way shape or form that your experience and work is not valid!! As a creative we are prone to compare oursleves, to box ourselves off and limit ourselves. I’m not elitist, I’m not thin, sometimes I’m more masculine than feminine, I’m bold and I care about people and the planet more than my own gain. I care more about my city than my own career. And that is very un-fashion. Fashion in 2019 is repackaging and selling you what you think you don’t have and what they convince you that you need. It’s excessive and cutthroat and often a cruel industry. That’s not who I am and that’s not what I believe in. I believe in Fashion and subcultures having the ability to inspire and implement real social change, and I will very much playb by myb own rules to see that happen.