In one of our most recent look book shoots we posed the model in front of some paintings almost like an artist captured in his studio and we got quite a few questions as to the artwork in the background.
The work is by a Dutch painter, Joost (www.facebook.com/joosttheartist) a rather reclusive person who we met many years ago and have always managed to stay in contact with. Based in Bodegraven, a small city in the province Utrecht, he works out of a small studio that overlooks farmers fields and produces work that to me has an organic, at times haunted and yet has a tranquil spirit about it he himself is very evasive . With a philosophy that it is about the work and not the personality behind it, he has developed a reputation of avoiding almost on attention on himself, including even refusing to attend openings of his work.
“I want for the person looking at my work to try to look into their own soul not mine,” is something he has continued to give as response to questions about why he has chosen to be so elusive.
Even in terms of describing or explaining the work he refuses to discuss it. “If I need to explain my work in words I have not done my work properly,” he explains.
Some time ago in a brave moment of stupidity (aren’t most act of bravery steeped in stupidity?), I asked him if he would consider letting me use some of his work as a basis for fabric printing and rather surprisingly he agreed. There is certainly nothing new about designers collaborating with artists, from Chanel with many people such as Dali to more recently Raf Simons with Sterling Ruby and the list goes on and on.
Of course it leads to the often discussed issue, is fashion art? I don’t think so and nor do people like Karl Lagerfeld, Miuccia Prada or Yohji Yamamoto. Yves St Laurent said that some designers can be artists but fashion can never be art. There is no doubt that the design process may well rely on creativity but ultimately the final product is a wearable commodity.
On a whole the word artist is thrown around so lightly these days that one can be a cupcake or cappuccino artist. From the people that do your nails to trim your hedge, they are more then happy to define that what they do as art. Sadly rendering the title artist because of its frequent use as somehow meaningless. Oddly the people that so often deserving of the “label” are those that are reluctant to define themselves as such.
Because of the incredible technological advances that have and continue to be made it has become so easy for many to become designers, musicians, photographers and artists. Some good, many not, and as is often the case their financial or popular success on creative merit can be argued.
And you know what, as far as I am concerned why not? The world has never been a fair and just place when it comes to the success of artists. It used to be Popes or royalty that defined or determined the art that was created.
Art is an absolutely wonderful essential thing and what moves some and means nothing to others will always be debated (hopefully). What should not be, is the importance of art in the educational process both for the sake of the artist and of equal importance to the audience or patron. To give people the knowledge and insight into what might be great work will only enhance the pleasure of experiencing it. Because art can change your life, in fact it can change everyones.