Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Recent statistics show a new printed t-shirt brand is born every 0.26 seconds in the UK alone. Standing head and shoulders over so much of the sub-graphic design/ illustration fodder that has saturated the market in recent times is T-Shirt Party

Core to this brand is it's distinctly British take on street culture; referencing everything from grime to Soul 2 Soul, it was this aesthetic approach that made T-Shirt party so fresh, unique, and ultimately successful.

With the mission statement of 'setting T-shirts free' they released a new design every week, designed by enigmatic head honcho Stan Still and a range of esteemed contributors (incl. Ferry Gouw, Tim and Barry, Studio Downturn and many more).

TSP20: Delicate Flower video

I was lucky enough to have mine and Oscar Godfrey's 'Delicate Flower' design, featuring Mike Tyson's head superimposed onto a rose, featured for the labels 20th release. Got all kinds of messages on Facebook of pics of people wearing the tee, and received lots of nice compliments when wearing the design out, particularly at Notting Hill Carnival. We also did a SuperSuper shoot of many of the designs as part of a diy tee trend story. Feels good to have been a part of T-Shirt Party history.

SuperSuper T-Shirt shoot with designs from T-Shirt Party, Long Clothing, Copson Street and a few bespoke ones by myself! 
Pics: Billa. Styling: Zoe Jenkin

All 52 weeks are now up, and should you still wish to purchase one you'd better hurry up as they are due to cease trading on the 3rd April.

Couple of press links can be found heeere...

RIP to T-Shirt Party, and thanks for having me :)

Monday, 28 March 2011

Matthew Stone interview

Excerpts from an interview by me and Jack Armitage carried out with the artist Matthew Stone on art and spirituality last summer.

Friday, 25 March 2011


Collage by Salem

Interview I did with the band Salem back in August (just before their album release) along with some exclusive artwork they made to go along with the piece.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Elbow Patches

Lily Cole for Vanidad

I wrote the cover feature of the October '10 issue of Vanidad in Spain - an interview piece with the model Lily Cole. Photos by Simon Harris, see magazine for full credits.

WW: So, Lily Cole, you’ve got a lot of strings to your bow – supermodel, actress, university student. Where is it you feel at your most comfortable?

LC: Where do I feel most comfortable? On holiday! [Laughs]

WW: [Laughs] Where did you go on holiday when you were younger? I used to want to go abroad but we always ended up in little country holiday homes …

LC: My family the same, it was always quaint cottages in the countryside.

WW: How about now though? You must get to see a lot more of the world with your work?

LC: I love the travelling aspect of my job; I’ve been to so many amazing places. Paris is probably my favourite city in the world!

WW: Do you prefer it to London then?

LC: That’s a tough one. I love Paris, but London is of course a wonderful place, and it’s my home too, so it would be impossible to choose really.

WW: So you’re still only 22-years-old and currently in your second year studying Art History at Cambridge. What interested you in going to university, despite already having forged a successful career in modelling?

LC: I was always interested in learning so I continued with my A levels, and then my Politics teacher persuaded me to apply to Cambridge. I got a place there to read Politics, and then I spent two years deliberating a bit. I felt like it was a unique opportunity to study lots and learn more so I ended up studying the Arts instead as that’s something that I really love and I’m so glad I did.

WW: And as a model did you ever feel there was a point to be made by doing the studying, or did that never really come into it? I guess with art you are still in the realm of aesthetics…

LC: Yeah, I was supposed to do Politics, though despite being very passionate about it, it’s heavy and pretty intense. I chose to switch courses because I love art and didn’t really know a lot about it, it was more of an interest and a curiosity at that point. Now I realise it seems very appropriate on a visual level because I do work in fashion, I love film and that’s a medium I’m really interested in right now. Even though we don’t actually do film studies within the course there seems a natural progression of film within the arts.

WW: On that note I heard you were working with Marilyn Manson on an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ inspired film, is that right?

LC: It is and it isn’t, in the sense that the film has been kind of up in the air to happen for the last three or so years. So hypothetically ‘yes’ but I don’t know if and when he will manage to get the production going on it…

WW: He almost seems like the godfather of all the gothic/ Gaga stuff going on at the moment doesn’t he? Are you a fan of his music?

LC: I don’t listen to his music a lot to be honest, some of his work I really do love though. I think he’s a fascinating person and human being in mind and creative spirit and so it was from that angle that I was really interested in working with him.

WW: It’s weird, I was talking to someone earlier about how youth tribes and how different I was when I was when I was younger compared to what I’m like now - were you ever a teenage goth? It’s ok to admit it Lily… [Laughs]

LC: [Laughs] I had a goth moment - everyone has that phase, most people do! I think it lasted a year or so, a year and a half. Marilyn Manson wasn’t a big part of it though; it was more pop-rock bands like Green Day and Linkin Park - the kind of stuff which was not as cool.

I did like the softness of the goths though - when you have all the different groups in school the goths were always quite sensitive and gentle. You didn’t feel like they were going to punch you in the face!

WW: And what was school like for you in your teens generally?

LC: It was OK. I think I enjoyed it in the kind of way kids enjoy school to some extent and then often don’t like it at the same time because it IS school! I went to an all-girl school from ages 11 to 16, and really enjoyed it. I had great friends there, we studied drama and art and all the creative subjects. After that I went to a private school which was a boy’s school with girls in it so it was completely different scene - but that was brilliant too as I had a really good group of friends, and did a lot of drama!

WW: So it wasn’t difficult going from an all-girl school to one with boys?

LC: It was good, I’d been so deprived! [Laughs] I needed the change, and there was like five boys to every girl! The balance felt great!

WW: Do you remember your first crush? I think mine was actually one of the Spice Girls!

LC: I had a crush on a teacher when I was about 8! I can’t remember what he taught, I think he was maybe a piano teacher but I think most girls get that sort of crush when they’re growing up…

WW: And do you think now that men find you intimidating now because of how successful you are?

LC: Well I'm not out to meet guys because I have a boyfriend but I wouldn't think so! I can't really comment because I've been with my boyfriend for a while now. He has his life and I have mine. I like that he's passionate about what he does and what I do - I don't think success should be intimidating though, it should be celebrated.

WW: With regards to the film role and speaking of childhood and so on - is the idea of fairy tales and magic something you’re into? For some reason I just get that impression from you…

LC: Yes definitely, I would never want to limit myself only to that though. I think all the films I love are very much based on reality even if they’re not non-fictional, but I also love Terry Gilliam too - his works are very fantastical and imaginative. That element in life is very important to my own, so I love bringing it into my work and art.

WW: How do you mean when you say “important in your own life”? Are you into spiritual books and concepts like that?

LC: I guess I mean in terms of believing in things beyond reality. Just… more esoteric kind of stuff!

WW: I see - do you get to explore these sort of ideas in your course and express this creative part of your soul then…

LC: Unfortunately not, it’s not in the course at all. But I do – I mean I do my own bits here and there but definitely not as much as I probably would like to or would be, if there was a facet for that in the department.

WW: So what kind of work is it that you do on you own?

LC: I draw, write, and I paint. I have no ambitions to be selling in a gallery – I just do it for myself really.

WW: What are you into painting? Is there a particular theme to your work?

LC: I don’t take it very seriously, it just depends when and how I’m feeling. I painted me and my boyfriend’s dogs recently - it’s my most recent work!

WW: What sort of writing do you like to do?

LC: I used to write stories, but now I’m studying I’ve been doing so much essay based writing, so I’ve been very busy with that. I’m trying to put some time towards it again though.

WW: And what kind of books do you like to actually read?

LC: Neville Cross is my favourite writer, and I love [J.D.] Salinger and [Truman] Capote.

WW: Ok so that’s books and films covered… I guess the inevitable next question is to ask what sort of music do you like?

LC: Very eclectic stuff – [gestures to CD player] I love Stevie Wonder. I also like a lot of Ella Fitzgerald, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones. I seem to prefer old music and I tend to listen more to that rather than newer stuff. I’m a big fan of Bjork though, and I love Joanna Newsom’s music too.

I do enjoy Pop music – hearing Alicia Keys and Jay-Z when you’re in the right place is great, but for me, listening at home, it tends to be more old school or eclectic music.

WW: You’ve got so many interests and talents, where do you see yourself going in the future?

LC: I want to keep on modelling, continue doing the things that inspire me, and try out lots of new things too.

WW: Ok, and final question, you’re known as being so other worldly and elegant, do you ever just go to the supermarket in a tracksuit?

LC: [Laughs] Of course, sometimes I’ll just put on a tracksuit when I’m going out for the shopping – I’m sure there have been pictures!

Behind the scenes

Prepping Claire for a shoot to feature in the forthcoming issue 24 of SuperSuper magazine.


Out take from a trend story I directed/ co-styled in SuperSuper Magazine issue 23 w/ Dominik Riddler.

Model: Claire Barrow
Photo: Billa

See magazine for full credits.

oOoOO interview

An interview I did with the band oOoOO last autumn, as featured in SuperSuper Magazine Issue 22.

Looking at the band name and the hidden identities of the band members, it’s apparent that fostering a sense of mystery is important to oOoOO. What is it that appeals to you about remaining anonymous? 

I've just never liked band names.  The intention of oOoOO was to not have one, to whatever extent that's possible, but it didn't really work the way I'd hoped because I'm always getting asked about what it means, or how it’s pronounced.  Anonymity leaves open a lot of possibilities… the whole point of defining/naming something is so that it can be set aside and forgotten about.  

So… to clear it up once and for all, and prevent any future questions on it… how do you actually pronounce the name?!

I don’t know… I think right now it’s ‘oh’, but I've told people that it’s ‘ooooo’ before.  It’s subjective.

oOoOO has two band members, right? Have you worked out a live 'performance' set up for the band, or is it more of a recording project?

Originally, it was just me, setting up a recording project.  Now, we’re working on a live set, which is going to be two of us.  We’re playing our first show in a couple of weeks and hopefully are coming to the UK for a week of shows in October.  

The production of your music forms a big part of the sound. Do you feel pressured to play live, or is it a natural progression? 

We kind of feel pressured to do it… it feels like there is this idea out there that you're not a serious act unless you are playing shows. 

How do you feel about the idea of personal fame, is it ever a worthwhile pursuit? Do you feel you could you ever be comfortable with it?

I like the idea of creating something that becomes famous; knowing that I am the creator of something that everyone is aware of.  But I'm not particularly interested in being a famous person… I'd much rather have the respect of the handful of people I think do amazing things, than the adoration of everyone else.

Do you like pop music? Would you say you ever aspire to make it?

Yeah, I love pop music.  For the past six months or so I'd say eighty per cent of what I listen to is pop, radio-ready hip hop, R n’ B… that sort of thing.  I'd really like to make music that uses a lot of sounds from current pop, but is darker on the surface, and uses a looser song structure.

Is there ever an argument that for something to justify its existence it should be essentially 'relevant', and aware of the context in which it exists? Would you say this was ever the case for you?  

Kind of… I don't really have an interest in anything ‘retro’; it’s inevitable to incorporate the past into the present to a certain extent, but I don't understand the drive to just redo the past.  Why put the effort into recording the songs?  Why not just relax and listen to the ones someone else made better 30 years ago?  

That said, when someone like Ariel Pink makes music that sounds like it’s coming out of an AM radio in 1976, there's something amazing going on. Its not retro at all, he's allowing people to hear something that's existed on an unconscious level for like thirty-five years in a conscious way for the first time.  It’s like he’s saying, "There's been a ghost in our songs for all these years and you guys didn't even hear it.  Let me show you."  That's a totally relevant way to approach the past.  

Culture is super conservative right now, especially in America; hardly any artists are doing anything new at all, and revolution is the last thing on peoples’ minds. There's hardly anything that can really be said to be edgy. People who want to be ‘punk’ in 2010 would have hated it in 1977 - they'd have been listening to Peter Frampton.

To my ears some of your music could be seen as a digital take on ‘90's Trip Hop. Would you say that was a fair comment, or is it merely incidental?

No, it’s a spot on comparison. I grew up listening to all that stuff, Portishead, Tricky.  PJ Harvey's trip-hoppish record ‘Is This Desire?’ is one of my favourite records from when I was young.  

Is music a legitimate career these days (i.e. something that will pay the bills)?

Not the kind I makeut I'm not really qualified to do anything that actually does pay the bills, so fuck it.

Video: oOoOO 'Hearts'

24 Hours with Manflu

I first met photographer/ film maker/ model Aza Shade on a shoot last summer. When I checked out her band Manflu afterwards it turned out they were the best thing I'd heard in a long time. Me and photographer David Richardson spent a day hanging out with the band at the end of last year for a '24 hours with...' feature. We went for a little barge trip, then for a meal and then finally to see them support punk legend Lydia Lunch. Was a fun day

Manflu: Cheval Surf Video:

Intergalactic Puffa Jackets

Out take shot from a trend story I styled in issue 23 of SuperSuper Magazine. Jacket was a special one off made by Claire Barrow of The Milk of Danzig.

Photo by Billa
See magazine for full credits.

Gabriella Marina Gonzales

Photo: Billa

A little interview I did with designer Gabriella Marina Gonzales ahead of the launch of her SS11 Cyclops Apprentice collection last year...

Gaga and Jessie J can't get enough of her shoes at the moment...

Lady GaGa has been wearing your stuff lately, are you comfortable with that sort of high profile /pop patronage?

Lady GaGa bought a pair of my shoes, which helped to fund this next collection, but I’m not very big on the whole celebrity thing, personally. Ultimately, it can be good because a lot of people are exposed to the pieces that celebrities wear, but the same time I don’t my work to become a throwaway trend. I want people to purchase my stuff because they really like it, not because they’re getting into the current thing…

From what I understand, you’re pretty committed to doing things on your own terms without pandering to the industry. That must be quite a difficult stance to take, especially in the fickle world of fashion?

It’s not easy; because it’s not standard… there are a lot of cheaters, liars and horrible people out there! I try to be honest; I’m just doing my thing. 

Do you think that that’s especially true in London, where there’s a certain kind of pressure on designers to play the game?

Yes, and I try to avoid that at all costs! I don’t try to appeal to anyone in particular, I don’t create for an audience… I’m just doing what I feel is right and hope that people are interested. 

Would you say you considered yourself to be an artist first and foremost then? 

Everything is bespoke and made by hand, and I consider that an art form in itself. Most things now are manufactured and throwaway… for the masses; style has become that whole Primark £1 shirt thing. Every piece that I make is special and one-of-a-kind, and hopefully becomes a keepsake, like a collector’s piece.

So you believe in the value of an individual piece, and what it can represent?

Yeah - every piece will hold a story, and no two pieces are exactly the same. The last lady I made a pair of shoes for insisted that I sign the inside of them… no one else is going to have those exact shoes.

With all that attachment, is it difficult to actually give the clothes away in the end?

It kind of feels like giving birth! I invest so much time into really perfecting something, and noticing the details and imperfections that nobody else would ever notice. Then, when it’s finally ready, in the wrapping paper, it’s like, ‘woah… I’m never going to see this again, I don’t know what’s going to happen to it’. 

So, if the incentive isn’t financial how would you define the actual purpose behind your work?

Most of what I do is self-indulgent, in that it’s based around my personal experiences. I use my work as an outlet from myself; it’s necessary, if I don’t keep myself busy, then I start mentally deteriorating!

So there’s a cathartic element to it all, then?

I’m doing something worth my while, rather than spending my evenings roaming the streets with a bottle in my hand! I spend so much time on my own, or with friends, that it’s becoming less and less appealing to be in public. People say that’s detrimental in the fashion industry, because there’s a lot of schmoozing that’s involved – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

I was actually showing your stuff to one of my friends today, and they described it as being ‘ very dark’ – how do you respond to that?!

I’m totally open to other people’s opinions, although there’s been a lot of misconception about my work being ‘bondage’. A piece isn’t ‘bondage’ just because it’s made of leather! I see my work as slapstick, in a way. 

How would you describe your creative process? 

I’m all over the place! Sometimes, it just appears. When it doesn’t happen, I might see someone walk past and think, ‘there’s something there, in that attitude’, and it triggers something. Creating is stressful, because you’re trying to create something as close to what’s inside your brain as possible – if it doesn’t work, no one will really understand what you’re trying to do. 

You’re a bit of a perfectionist, then?

I am, which is difficult when you’re cutting everything by hand! Sometimes the edges just aren’t perfect… but I hope that some of that is made up for with concept.

Okay – finally, I have to ask - I heard Joan of Arc holds a special significance for you; what’s the story with that?

When you're younger, before you get baptised, you have to go to Sunday School. They make you try and choose this patron saint, this person that you want to pray to. So, I was doing research as a kid, because you've got to make these Sunday School grades so they can throw a little bit of water on your head - which is ultimately totally meaningless if you live a life where you're a total asshole! But anyway, I got this interest in Joan of Arc, and I've always kind of had it, because... they say people like movie stars and rock stars have balls for vomiting on stage, but like... they don't risk their lives. She’s just intensely… I can’t even talk about it… she’s incredible!

Did you like the film then?

No. I mean it was a good film but I don’t like it when other people try and put their own take on a character and it’s different to yours. I prefer the vision in my own head.

Photos from the Cyclops apprentice collection

Original article features in SuperSuper Issue 22