Portrait Eight - Jewellery Designer and Illustrator Lou Clarke at her Studio in Leigh - On - Sea, Essex
Lou Clarke is another of our wonderful customers that discovered us at Wilderness festival last year, we started chatting about playsuits on Instagram and that lead us to her brilliant creations. On quite a blowy day back in February we ventured down to the lively coastal town of Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, to Lou's studio. Which as you will see below is a treasure trove of sparkling objects and characters. There is a lot of humour in Lou's work, each piece tells a story we are very excited to share our finds with you..
Describe what do you do in one sentence.
I stick bits of wood and plastic together that some people like to wear.
Tell us a bit about you –What was the path that lead you to what you do.
I've always been a maker since I was little, making cardboard gifts for family that I'd seen on Blue Peter to making weird inventions and contraptions...my Mum is extremely creative so I always had access to art materials and it was always encouraged. So I just never really stopped making things. I also loved visiting my Dad's workshop when I was little and spotting his own tools he'd put together from things like bits of pipe and recycled bottles so I feel very at home in a studio space, I went to see his most recent space and he had built his own lift! Move over Dick Strawbridge.
I did an art foundation course where I discovered my love of line drawing through experimenting in life drawing classes and then went off to uni when I was 25 to study fashion but ended up making little films. It was really my internship for a jewellery brand, that I applied for while I was at uni, that really lead me to the path I'm currently at though. Funny because I was so nervous for the interview I nearly didn't go.
Can you tell us three of the most important places you’ve lived, worked or travelled that have lead to you being where you are today.
I guess London is the first one that comes to mind as this is where I learnt my laser cutting and jewellery making skills through working for several different independent brands, such as Tatty Devine and Wolf and Moon. I gained an internship with Tatty Devine while I was at uni and moved to London to work for them soon after. I guess that's actually three in one!
If you could create a piece for anyone who would it be?
That's a tricky one. Nathasha Lyonne right now or Isabella Blow if she were alive. Munroe Bergdorf asked to borrow a piece recently so I'd be over the moon if I ever saw her in it!!
Theres a lot of humour in the pieces you create – where does this stem from?
I think it just comes from being honest and not falling in to a 'business mould' and taking yourself too seriously. Artists and Illustrators I have gravitated towards from a young age are pretty silly and seem to rebel against social etiquette so I wouldn't have really have gone in any other direction!
The best thing to do in life is to laugh so if I make any smile along the way then I'm happy. Coz really, who wants to be serious?! A yoga teacher once said in a class 'we can learn a lot from kids' and that stuck with me and I think she was right coz they're they're uninhibited, honest and hilarious little buggers!
You have a lot of lady love in your work, particularly your alternative FHM illustrations, celebrating the female form as it really is, seems something you feel passionate about?
Yes very much so. When I knew I wanted to start up something of my own, the main aspect that was important to me was to work on something that I felt passionate about and that would keep me interested. Something I have struggled with is being a fat person in society and how unaccepted and misunderstood it is so I wanted to use that as food for thought.
The main issue I had was the media and its misrepresentation of body types. I started to see a more diverse range of body types creeping into the mainstream and I was liking what I saw and wanted to carry this on, especially as I knew it made me personally feel a lot more comfortable and wanted others to feel this. I am naturally much more inspired by feelings than the material world around me.
I will just add that it is not exclusively aimed at women but it just happens to come from that point of view as it's personal to me and I am a woman. I know men feel that exact same strains with body image in the media.
Have you any exciting projects on the horizon?
I do! I have a collaboration on the cards with an amazing illustrator called Molley May. I love collaborating as I find it much easier working alongside someone as opposed to my normal solo mission.
Where did you discover us?
I discovered you guys at Wilderness Festival last year where I was selling with Secret Emporium. My good pal Kara and helper for the weekend had clocked the jumpsuits straight away and she bought a black and white one. I sat on it for too long and by the time I made it to the H&B stall all the pink ones had gone that I was after...but luckily I was able to get one on awaiting list situation when I was back form Wilderness!
What do you like about H&B clothing?
I like H&B clothing lots as the fit is so comfy but it looks cool too, with the awesome prints and loose silhouette. I literally wear one of your jumpsuits every day when I take my work clothes off and on my days off! I like that it's an indie brand too as I don't like to buy from high street brands, I would much rather support smaller brands.
Can you describe your dream item of clothing?
My dream item of clothing is a comfy piece made up of reclaimed clothes that I've cut up and made some cool monstrosity. I can't wait until fast fashion is abolished and we can wear the most random creative ensembles made from crap. I'm so into when this day happens coz it's going to be so fun looking at everyones hand made outfits. I think the headwear could be especially cool. They'll be random pieces of hand knitting, personal embroidery and hand drawn prints. I'm waiting for a semi apocalypse. Hopefully some Sharpies will survive so the hand drawn prints won't have to be made with bodily fluids.
If people want to follow you and discover more about you where can they go..
You can follow me over on Insta at @louclarkestudio and that will give you a link to my Etsy shop where you can peruse my goodies!!
Favourite track to work to at the moment
Cardi B gets me going
Lou wears our Pink Honeycomb Playsuit, Black Cotton Flax Playsuit and Velvet playsuit