Beyond The Canvas: Two Multimedia Artists To Watch

With so much talent out there, it is truly exciting when you discover an artist whose work makes your jaw drop and your mind race. Well, that was our exact reaction when we came across the two artists featured below: Katie Bell and Andrea Bergart. With each a distinct aesthetic of their own, these artists are creating captivating art that goes way beyond your typical understanding of art. Their manipulation of everyday materials and objects is straight up beautiful. One of these talented women can takes garbage scraps and turns them into a 9 ft tall sculptural painting and the other transforms working cement trucks into moving public murals. So, without further ado, let your artist crushes begin.

KATIE BELL

Photo by Levi Mandel

The moment we caught sight of Katie Bell’s large-scale paintings we couldn’t look away. Her art goes above and beyond, outwards and upwards, literally. Katie creates her pieces with found materials that she herself went digging for. From ceiling tiles to hot tub fragments, she turns so-called garbage into unreal art. Her color composition, structural thought and innate attention to placement detail will blow your mind. Not to mention, this bad-ass woman can haul bounds of material and somehow get them all on a wall.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF. My name is Katie Bell and I am originally from Rockford, Illinois. I have been living and working in Brooklyn, NY for the past six years. I make large sculptural paintings out of found material.

HAS ART BEEN A PART OF YOUR LIFE SINCE YOU WERE LITTLE? I have a twin brother who is also an artist, and I think growing up we fostered that creative interest in each other.  We were always making drawings, games, costumes, piñatas, plays, forts, obstacle courses, etc.  We were collaborators on all kinds of things and our parents were always encouraging us to make things. I began making paintings in college and started making still-lives to paint from.  The still-lives eventually grew larger and larger and turned into the work I am making now. I have always come to art from an interest in painting.

ALL YOUR SCULPTURAL PAINTINGS ARE MADE FROM FOUND MATERIALS. WHAT’S YOUR PROCESS OF SOURCING LIKE? I am constantly looking for materials and try to find one thing everyday to bring back to the studio. I am mostly finding things on the street, in dumpsters, and at construction sites. My studio acts as a catch-all for all my finds. Things will be rolling around the studio a while before I figure out what to do with them.

HAS YOUR HUNT FOR MATERIAL BECOME EASIER AS YOU’VE GROWN AS AN ARTIST? DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE / GO-TO SOURCE? The hunt is different every time, but it is always a very physical task. As my work has grown I have gotten more specific, so I am looking for particular things now. My favorite part of gathering materials is the looking. I have so many places that I go to regularly to find materials, but one of the best spots is Bartos Pools and Spas. I have made friends with the owner and she saves old hot tubs for me to cut apart.

WHAT’S THE WEIRDEST THING YOU’VE EVER FOUND? THE BEST THING? Weirdest: A three-foot tall rawhide bone. Best: A faux blue geode bookend.

Top image: ‘Backsplash’, cork, foam, drywall, laminate, wood, plexiglass, rocks, plastic, Kleenex box, rubber, springs, steel, and hot tub fragments, 144 x 276 x 108, 2016 Photo cred: Zack Balber with Ginger Photography Inc.

Middle image: ‘Broadcast’, acrylic, wood, ceiling tiles, foam, drywall, plexiglass, nails, laminate, rocks, and plastic on wall, 264 x 156 x 22, 2016. Photo cred: Zack Balber with Ginger Photography Inc.

Bottom image: Breakout’, acrylic, wood, laminate, foam, ceiling tiles, rope, drywall, marble, and nails on wall, 144 x 108 x 108, 2016

Visit katiebellstudio.com for more and follow @katies_bell

ANDREA BERGART

Photo by Maddy Talias

Our love for Andrea Bergart’s work may be new but it’s already very serious. It was just the beginning of May when we started seeing these seriously cool basketball handbags all over our Instagram feed and on all our favorite online magazines. If you didn’t already guess, Andrea is the one behind these bags. We then discovered this was in fact her first design project and that she is also an incredible artist with a long list of talents.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF. I grew up in the suburbs of Boston and the woods of Maine, I live in Ridgewood, Queens and I am an artist.

YOU DO A LOT OF LARGE-SCALE PUBLIC MURALS. HOW DID YOU GET INTO THAT AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT PRESENTING YOUR ART THIS WAY? I have a steady studio practice but occasionally my work will take me to the streets where I can make something extra large. My last series of public works involved painting murals on working cement truck barrels. This idea came to me after spending a year living in West Africa where people paint on everything- signs, walls, houses and buses.  Painting on cement trucks seemed like an exciting extension of this way of thinking about images in public spaces. I love how the cement trucks travel throughout NYC and reach so many different audiences. It’s cool that they are also delivering cement and going into construction sites. I like mixing high and low- fine art and working trucks. I also enjoy seeing the paint decay and get grimey – art dealing with the daily grind.

YOU RECENTLY LAUNCHED A LINE OF BASKETBALL HANDBAGS. HOW DID IT FEEL TO STEP ASIDE FROM PAINTING AND INTO DESIGN? I’m into hybrids right now- things with multiple functions- sort of like the cement truck with art on it. Designing an object that has a function is a lot different than making art. You can be very creative but you are always considering the practicality of the design. It’s fun to play with people’s expectations of objects and form.

SO, WE’VE HEARD YOU’RE KIND OF AMAZING AT PLAYING THE GAME. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE DOWNTOWN GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM YOU’RE A PART OF?  Ha! I’m okay. : ) Downtown girls basketball is conceived by artist Aria McManus. Aria has created and attracted such a cool community. Sure we ball but we also talk about what’s going on in our lives, go to each other’s art openings, collaborate, and bring and reflect positive vibes.

HAS THIS TEAM BECOME A CREATIVE HUB FOR YOUR LADIES? We meet up once a week and having that consistent hang out schedule makes the team an important part of my life.  The routine helps it feel like a family. I think we have a sense of loyalty to each other and that helps me be bolder in my life than I would otherwise be.

Images from top left to bottom right: ‘Trident’, dye and wax on silk mounted on paper, 108″ x 56″; ‘Cheetos’, cement truck mural; Basketball Purse (Skills) Photo Cred: Maddy Talias; Basketball Purse (OG) Photo Cred: Maddy Talias; ‘Swamp Sunset’, acrylic on canvas, 72″ x 60″;  Embossed leather strap detail Photo Cred: Maddy Talias.

Visit andreabergart.com for more and follow @andreabergart.

Six Up-And-Coming Photographers Creating Change With Their Lens

Every time we open our Instagram we discover a new photographer working the lens like we’ve never seen before. With a distinct aesthetic of their own, each of these photographers is as empowering as the next but there is one thing they all have in common: they are young and they are women. Oh, and they are crazy talented, obviously. There is no doubt that for the past few years there has been an powerful force of young female photographers making waves in the industry. The list of talents we could name is endless. Seriously, we would be gushing for days. But there are six female photographers we are currently crushing on that each have their own unique perspective not just on that buzzy term “female gaze” but on the female experience.  From exposing modern femininity to giving a voice to marginalized identities, these photographers are creating a change through the power of imagery.

 

AMANDA CHARCHIAN

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Female nudity is something Los Angeles-based photographer Amanda Charchian never shies away from, in fact, she regularly encourages it. Her most indepth project, Pheromone Hotbox – a book of photographs spanning from her creative adventures from 2012 to 2015 – celebrates the female form, femininity and sensuality. Featuring 28 female contemporary artists that are both her friends and her muses, the book gives a voice to each one of them. In an industry where female nudity is often exploited, Amanda’s art does just the opposite. It sheds light on the reality of modern femininity and how unique each woman’s perception and connection is to it. Amanda’s brilliant combination of fine arts and photography will have you hypnotized.

To learn more about Amanda, visit amandacharchian.com and follow @amanda_charchian.

 

SAMRA HABIB

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We wouldn’t be surprised if you have heard about Samra Habib and her ongoing photo documentary project Just me and Allah. It has received praise from a ton of big names such as Vanity Fair, The Guardian and BBC. This Toronto-based creative (writer, editor, videographer and photographer) has been bringing to light the struggles and complex experiences of queer Muslims since 2014. Through photography and interviews, Samra has created a community of acceptance and support. Her photographs tell the stories of individuals from all around the world who would often be underserved by mainstream media. Her ability to capture one’s emotion, knowledge and beauty in one snap is inspiring, to say the least. Samra’s images are both empowering and informative, and pretty damn stylish too.

To learn more about Samra, visit cargocollective.com/samrahabib and follow @samra.habib.

 

DANIELA VESCO

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You’ve probably already regrammed or retweeted one of Daniela Vesco’s photographs unknowingly. Well, it’s time to change that. Born in Costa Rica, Daniela has always had a love for the arts. Pursuing photography accelerated when she moved to New York and worked for notable studios such as Richard Corman’s. But it is her current job as the digital design manager at Parkwood Entertainment (yes, that is Beyonce’s company) that led her to her most recent claim to fame. Daniela is the talent behind Beyonce’s fan favorite pregnancy photos (plus many other photos of B – she was by her side the whole time capturing her Formation tour). Aside from the fact these photos are of the Queen B herself, they are strikingly powerful. Daniela’s ability to capture movement and strength (underwater!) is surreal. She is also an expert at motion photography which is a whole other ballgame to praise. Now that the cat is out of the bag we can guarantee this is one photographer to watch.

To learn more about Daniela, visit danielavesco.com and follow @danielavesco.

KRISTIINA WILSON

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Kristiina Wilson (the talent behind our Working Girl-inspired spring editorial) likes to celebrate life through her photography. But, she also loves to poke fun at it and all the everyday weirdness that people create themselves. The result? A perfectly peculiar aesthetic that as she says “could most easily be described as absurd.” Kristiina was given her first camera (a Brownie Hawkeye) when she was five years old. Ever since then she has been fascinated with taking people’s pictures. After a life of high school photography class, darkroom days, and a college BFA and MFA in photography, she now lives and works in New York City. Pushing boundaries and capturing the so-called unusual is the norm for Kristiina’s photography. Recently, she and photographer Logan Jackson, created an online space, You Do You, for people across the identity spectrum. It’s an non-profit, collaborative platform for people of all genders, sizes, ages, colors, and abilities. Her foundation shows the world that fashion should be inclusive and that it in fact it fits on every body. Let’s just say, you best keep an eye out for Kristiina because she is a serious force behind driving positive change in the industry.

To learn more about Kristiina, visit kristiinawilson.com and follow @kristiinawilson.

 

AMANDA JASNOWSKI PASCUAL

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“Be good, try hard, have fun.” This is the motto of photographer Amanda Jasnowski Pascual. Born in Spain, raised in Ohio, Amanda moved herself to Brooklyn, New York in 2012 to pursue her love for photography. In a city filled with creatives, Amanda has made her mark. The moment we laid eyes on her work we fell under her technicolor dreamcoat spell. To say Amanda is an expert at playing with color is an understatement. Her vibrant photography is playful and intoxicating. With an array of textures, focus on natural light, and exploration of movement, Amanda captures true beauty in every image. Her aesthetically pleasing photographs encapsulate her strong belief in the therapeutic power of art and her aspiration for people to see the beauty in life is, in our books, completely accomplished. Plus, she has worked with some of our favorite designers, like Caron Callahan, Samantha Pleet and Pansy Co., to name a few.

To learn more about Amanda, visit amandajas.com and follow @amandajasnowski.

 

CHLOE HORSEMAN

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New York photographer Chloe Horseman is a genius at playing with movement, body and color. Just like most photographers do, she got into the game by being inspired by another: her father. Back in their small hometown in Georgia, he would take photos of people and sell them for $50 bucks a roll. “It always intrigued me that people would pay for another’s eye. I think my eye for things is still very much inspired by my father.” At only 19 years old, Chloe is strutting her stuff with a creative edge like we’ve never seen before. Her eye is strong and her heart is determined. “When I see something I like, I can’t let go of it. My mind takes it to set. It feels as if I have a superpower – this ability to shoot things in a way others cannot see.” We couldn’t agree more. Chloe’s photography has that superhero quality, that’s both comforting and daring. But don’t just take our word for it. Chloe has worked with some of our favorite boutiques and designers like The Drive New York and Rachel Comey, plus one of our style muses, Reese Blutstein.

To learn more about Chloe, visit chloehorseman.com and follow @chloehorseman

Stylist for above photos: Phoenix Johnson

In Conversation With Kowtow Founder Gosia Piatek

Ask any devotee of New Zealand’s Kowtow, a contemporary line of sustainable and ethical womenswear, the secret sauce is the fabric. Descriptions like “buttery” or “so soft” almost do it justice. Weather it’s a basic t-shirt from their line of closet staples, Building Block, or a pair of crisp culottes with a directional cut, as soon as you get your hands on one thing from their collection we swear you’ll be able to recognize the rest just by touching it. “She was like wow, that’s such lovely fabric,” founder and designer Gosia Piatek recalls of one fan’s reaction. “It’s so nice when you hear that because it is. You don’t realize that when you go into chain stores, their fabric doesn’t feel like our fabric. It’s cotton, and ours is cotton, but it has this lovely feel to it.” How you treat fabric, she says, breaking it down in pesticides or formaldehyde dyes or keeping things au natural, makes a difference. “It’s just a softer material.”

The kicker? They only use one type of fabric: 100% fair trade, ethical organic cotton. So not only is Kowtow committed to using sustainable fabrics and creating them ethically through their own production chain, but the line’s foundation and identity is literally defined by their values. Using one type of fabric puts certain limitations on the type of clothes you can design. But that hasn’t stopped them from building a thriving, global business. Creating apparel from seed to garment, while paying fair wages and increasing visibility on the imbalance of living standards around the world, means working at least a season ahead of other labels and going without traditional trend forecasting. But their original POV has only helped them build a mass cult following. (If you haven’t watched their video that details that process, we highly recommend it. Find it here.) They now have over two hundred retailers worldwide in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, a number of which include our own community of boutiques. So of course you don’t need another reason to fall in love with this New Zealand line, but we’re excited to give you one: their founder.

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Gosia Piatek working in the studio.

It’s a gray, windy day in Wellington when we wave at each other on either side of a Google hangout, but Gosia is immediately light and bright with her warm eyes and off-white linen blazer from Copenhagen and Kowtow separates. “I never find time to go shopping, apart from when I travel for work,” she says of her every day uniform. “Pants and t-shirts, quite boyish, relaxed, easy, a pair of sneakers. I don’t really dress up.” Today she reflects on a milestone: Kowtow’s 10 year anniversary.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR DESIGN PERSPECTIVE. DOES NEW ZEALAND HAVE AN INFLUENCE? We do play around with traditional design a bit like America. We take traditional fashion from Europe and give it our own take on it. We make loose, minimal, kind of a Japanese vibe to it. I think Wellington, well, we’re kind of at the edge of the world here. It’s not like every person on the street is super fashionable. I think here it’s a little bit more underground and people have less money so you do see some cool street style. We don’t have the big designer stores like Gucci, Prada, all of the big designers, so people do put their own take on how to put outfits together which is quite inspiring. A little bit fresher, maybe like some of the smaller periphery towns in America. I feel like there’s a parallel. Maybe because we’ve both been settled by the English in the last century.

 

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR DISTINCT VOICE IN MINIMALIST FASHION? We only work with cotton so we have quite a limited palette of textures. So we won’t have some of the things that other designers have with synthetic fabrics. Like a specific lace or a pleat in a fabric, but we can’t do that so straight away you can’t play with textures so much so you play with proportions and paneling.

It’s nice to sell a product that you know is going to last. And that it’s made with love and that we put so much care into every single garment our design and we do it from an original point of view we have our own thing a story we think about the girl that’s going to wear it. We don’t copy other people. I think that’s what has led to the success of the brand.

The other thing is that natural fabrics aren’t the norm any more so organic cotton is already makes for a unique product. So there really is something quite special about it. And with cotton we’re quite trans-seasonal. We have a store in Iceland that just loves it, can’t get enough of it. And we’re the opposite season from them. We don’t need to offer a boiled wool coat, we don’t need to offer everything to everyone that’s what I’ve realized. We do our own thing and it’s working.

 

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR SEED TO GARMENT PRODUCTION. We work quite far in advance because we have an ethical production chain. We can’t push our employees to do crazy hours, which is another reason why we continually stay original because we can’t forecast what’s going to happen that far ahead, we just do what we love. Sometimes we’re like, oh, wow that’s actually on trend. (laughs)

We have to work so far in advance. We work a season ahead of most other designers. Because we have to source the cotton from the crops, from the farmers. The farms grow it and we secure the yarn from them and then we get the fabric made, so we don’t work with fabric merchants, so they’re all exclusive to us. So we design the weave, the color, the texture, the feeling, it’s all unique to our brand.

SEEMS LIKE A PRETTY WELL OILED MACHINE. We’re quite planned out. We’re quite methodical people as well as design driven. I feel like you can do both and that’s why I started the brand. You have these places where it’s acceptable to do 12 hours or you’re not working hard enough and it’s just like, there’s always going to be work to do. Sometimes it’s hard, but I just think people feel like if they’re falling behind they’ll work on a Saturday every three months and it isn’t that big of a deal. I think if people love their job they’ll do it and we don’t micromanage them to do it or make it feel like a chore. We have a really cool team, a really cool team. They’re so engaged. I feel like I’ve got an easy job, that’s my feeling anyways.

 

DID YOU HAVE A DRIVE TO DO THIS AT AN EARLY AGE? In terms of sustainability I think that began in my childhood. My parents weren’t eco warriors but they lived quite simple. Growing up with that mentality, that inspired something. My parents used to take me out every weekend. New Zealand is really, really beautiful so it was really exciting. We’d go on bush walks or by the sea. I think I just fell in love with nature. I knew I would just love to do something that means something one day in my life, that has an effect, I think, on the right foot forward. We need to look after the planet. It’s not going to survive unless we do something, that’s how I felt. Maybe that’s a bit naive, I don’t know. But I still think that.

Fashion wasn’t the original way I wanted to go down this path. I just found it as an outlet for all the things that meant something to me, that stood for something. Ten years ago it was pretty new to the market, pretty heavy. It wasn’t fresh or cosmopolitan but I think we made it look like that. People just loved it, they didn’t even know about all of that stuff. They would be intrigued with what ethical means, but I think people are more educated now. I think with younger people now it’s cool to know about all that stuff. Where, you know, I wasn’t cool, that’s for sure. (laughs) You wouldn’t talk about sustainability, you would go and get drunk. Now it’s a different mindset. And we’re quite a young crew, they’re pretty awesome, but they’re young and they’re so interested in the details. This is the next generation. It’s great.

Shop Kowtow right here on Garmentory.

Keep the Kiwi vibes going and get to know our community of NZ designers and boutique owners here.

This interview has been edited and condensed.