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11-05-2006
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Using a White Shirt as Their Canvas (NYT)
source: nytimes.com

Quote:
May 11, 2006
Using a White Shirt as Their Canvas


Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
A men's white dress shirt was the starting point for artwork created by Billy Sullivan.

By ERIC WILSON
GHADA AMER was on a plane bound for Cairo in February when she read a newspaper review of the many shrouds, veils and head masks that were included in the fall collections shown that month in New York and Paris. They indicated, it was said, that Muslim-ization was seeping into Western fashion.


"My first reaction was fear," said Ms. Amer, an Egyptian-born artist who works in New York and who has made many controversial pieces by subverting the traditional symbols of feminine repression in Islamic cultures. She once embroidered a burka and veil with love poems, giving them a sexual charge, and has designed garment bags with verses from the Koran that refer to women.


Given her penchant for political allegory, a fear of stylistic artfulness from the likes of Marc Jacobs and Karl Lagerfeld may seem irrational. But Ms. Amer was concerned that the designers' incorporation of covered-up looks was a gloomy reaction to the turmoil of war and curbs on personal liberties in the West.


"What concerns me is what this says about what is going on in the world right now, when we are losing a lot of rights for people, for women especially, and for privacy," she said. "Sometimes trends in fashion reflect something else that is happening in society."


The setting for this conversation was the Seventh Avenue offices of Calvin Klein, where Ms. Amer was explaining her theory to Francisco Costa, the house's women's wear designer. The worlds of fashion and art (and music and entertainment) have become so intertwined in the last decade that cerebral exchanges between artists and designers are not unusual.


But in this case Mr. Costa, who will act as a chairman of a benefit tonight for the Whitney Museum of American Art, had approached Ms. Amer and two other artists, Vik Muniz and Billy Sullivan, to create artwork that is specifically about fashion. The work will be shown at the Whitney Art Party, an event for young patrons of the museum that has become popular with the fashionable crowd. Then it will be installed in the windows of the Calvin Klein boutique on Madison Avenue.


Quite coincidentally, each artist's proposal was based on the idea of a man's white dress shirt. "I found it very cool that there was a connection there, but nobody had talked about it beforehand," Mr. Costa said as he went over the designs.


Ms. Amer's concept, inspired by her reaction to the fall collections, was for Mr. Costa to design an elongated dress shirt that she would embroider with a dictionary definition of the word "fear." Mr. Muniz, a visual artist, planned to assemble a diptych that combined a photograph of a sculptural rendition of a white shirt made of wire next to a real shirt painted with the image of the wire sculpture. Mr. Sullivan, an illustrator, intended to document Ms. Amer's work with a series of photographs and sketches.


Mr. Muniz said the dress shirt was an obvious choice as a base for the works. "As far as you can talk about an article of clothing, a white shirt is archetypal," he said.


"If you cannot make a white shirt, you cannot design," Mr. Costa responded. "It would be like going to a French restaurant with bad bread."


From this common starting point, Mr. Costa and the artists soon found unexpected differences in their creative approaches, most notably in their attitudes toward fashion. Mr. Costa, betraying his trade, said he owns only white shirts and bluejeans because he does not like to think about what he is wearing, but Ms. Amer and Mr. Muniz were interested in the symbolic power of something as simple as a white shirt.


"This kind of shirt we call in Egypt a 'Western shirt,' " Ms. Amer said. "It is so contrary to a djellaba. It is a Western concept that you wear when you want to feel civilized."


Ms. Amer's work typically incorporates text as a means of illustrating how a subject is perceived differently depending on cultural context. At the Indianapolis Museum of Art, she once dug graves in the lawn in the shape of letters spelling "love," and at Wellesley College, she embedded multiple definitions of "terrorism" in the pink and green wallpaper, paper napkins and tablecloths of its Davis Museum cafe.


"I don't consider this to be a fashion piece," she said. "It is an art piece. I think at the beginning Francisco was a little bit scared of working together, but I didn't care what happens. It is more the fashion people than the artists who put a difference between fashion and art."


Mr. Costa did not dispute this. "My subject matter is making dresses," he said. "It almost didn't feel right in a way when Ghada wanted to make this shirt, but she reversed my way of thinking. In order to validate her concept, it has to be something that is not sterile."


Using a pattern of block letters designed by Ms. Amer, Mr. Costa created a lace fabric that was hand-embroidered in India for the final work. "It has to be sexy," she said.


Last week Mr. Sullivan took several photographs of the model Missy Rayder wearing a prototype of the "fear" shirt. He then used them as the basis for sketches and a 30-by-42-inch pastel drawing. At the same time Mr. Muniz began constructing the wire sculpture of a white shirt, which will be represented alongside shirts that Mr. Costa is hand-painting with an image of the sculpture. The piece is called "Two Wire Shirts." When he discussed his plans with Mr. Costa, Mr. Muniz brought up a famous work by Joseph Kosuth, "One and Three Chairs," made up of a chair, a photograph of a chair and a dictionary definition of the word "chair."


"Whenever I think of a collaboration, I think of two panels," Mr. Muniz said. "I look at fashion magazines to see what is going on. There is a symbiosis there between fashion and art, in what happens naturally. But I'm fascinated by fashion because I really don't understand anything about it."


Ms. Amer and Mr. Muniz asked Mr. Costa to take them on a tour of his studio and to explain the intricacies of his work. He showed them around but demurred from talking too much about fashion.


Reflecting on the process this week, Mr. Costa said he had a difficult time at the beginning because he had resisted the artists' concepts to create work so closely aligned with his designs. "I was really frightened at first that people would perceive I was trying to do art," he said. "I didn't want to make a dress or a shirt. What seemed to me to be something I thought of as naff, was something that for them was real."


Mr. Muniz, who like Mr. Costa was born in Brazil, seemed to understand.


"We have a saying in Brazil," he said, "that in the blacksmith's house the screws are made out of wood."

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11-05-2006
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I personally love this idea. Thanks for the article Vos!

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11-05-2006
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I love this kind of thing

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12-05-2006
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For more on info on t-shirt art, here are links to 2 articles:

http://www.fashionologie.com/fashion....html#comments

http://www.papermag.com/?section=article&parid=1089

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12-05-2006
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I like some of the user comments in the fashionologie link^
Some people might not consider spending so much on a piece because it's a t-shirt, but it really is just like a painting, only the canvas is different. And, there is still that amount of work/effort that's put in.

Hoping to see other artists' work in this...
I also saw on television custom-made jackets embellished by artists are also getting popular with people in music (bands, singers, etc.).

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13-05-2006
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I'm also wondering how they get their art on the shirt.

Would they draw the image first and then print it on the shirt, or would they actually use a special pen/marker to draw directly on the shirt?

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13-05-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avant Garde
I'm also wondering how they get their art on the shirt.

Would they draw the image first and then print it on the shirt, or would they actually use a special pen/marker to draw directly on the shirt?
Are you asking about how Jordan Mattos gets his art on there? I read in the article he just draws right on the t-shirt. He uses permanent marker.
There is also his "mass-produced" work. The New York Art Collective takes his drawings and silkscreens the images on to the t-shirt.



As for other ways of getting art on a t-shirt...
you can print out pictures from the computer onto "transfer paper." You put this sticky paper on to the fabric, and then iron it, so it sets the ink. This is just one way; there are so many others, depending on the kind of art you're looking for.

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14-05-2006
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Depending on the material, you can stretch shirts over frames too. Kind of like linen. Then you can airbrush, spray paint, silk screen or gesso and paint.

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16-05-2006
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How can I transfer a drawing/illustration to fabric?
Does anyone know how I could transfer a drawing to a piece of fabric? I thought about iron-ons, but I don't want it to come out, like, a square shape... (I there any way to do it where it could blend in?)

Thanks!!!

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16-05-2006
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You can check this thread

http://www.thefashionspot.com/forums...nyt-43980.html

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16-05-2006
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Thanks very much gius!

I am taking a look now...

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