Words By: Arthur Boyd, Ajay Woolery
Images By: Arthur Boyd
For this week’s installation of our Creator Spotlight series, we meet 16y/o multidisciplinary artist Arthur Boyd. Having always had an interest in creative outputs, Arthur’s journey has taken him from the performing arts to fashion and photography. His extensive portfolio and works have been largely developed through independent inquiry and self-teaching, something he describes as an integral part of his development.
WORK BY: Arthur Boyd
(TCK)Tell us about yourself and what you do?
AB: I’m a 16 year old fashion designer, photographer and artist, based in a small village outside of Oxford. I’ve been exploring a wide range of different mediums over the past 4-5 years, focussing mainly on fashion but recently branching out in to a host of new techniques and materials. I’m entirely self taught for the majority of my public work, but I also attend an Art and Design course at college in Oxford.
(TCK)Your work intersects a variety of mediums, What would you say has inspired this creative intuition?
AB: I’ve always been interested in creative outputs: I spent 9 years of my life in performing arts and dance, and only recently decided to focus solely on fashion and art. I think the freedom that I was given when dancing has played a large role in my creative process. I’m very instinctive when designing pieces, I don’t try to plan a piece out too strictly, and when I do I usually end up taking a drastic turn part way through the process. I also think the idea of theatricality and performance comes through in my designs, whether deliberately or not - it’s been engrained into me. Photography has come naturally to me as my Dad has always been interested in it as a hobby, so I’ve been lucky enough to have access to cameras. I’ve really started to delve in to film photography over the past few years, just documenting the world around me, whether that be at home, in London with friends, or on holidays. Obviously over the past year I’ve spent a lot of time surrounded by my home environment, and have really come to appreciate how lucky I am in where I live. I’ve been taking a sketchbook and my camera with me wherever I go, and seeing new beauty in objects and places I’d seen hundreds of times before. Recently I’ve also been exploring digital art and the use of machine learning to create art, as well as teaching myself sound design. At this moment in time I’m just trying to learn as much as possible before I have more serious responsibilities that take up my time.
(TCK) Tell us more about the clothing you’re making and how you got into fashion...
AB: I was taught the very basics of sewing by my Mum when maybe 9 or 10, on her domestic sewing machine. She’s always been interested in sewing, and has encouraged me to be creative throughout my life. We made a waistcoat together when I was about 12, and I absolutely hated the process. I found working from a pattern so restricting, and following rules felt like the opposite of what fashion should be. A few years later, as is the case with most young teens, I heard about brands like Supreme and other “streetwear”. This got me interested again, but I could never really afford the clothing I wanted to wear. This led to me resorting to cutting up old clothes I had and no longer wore, wanting to create something to feel proud wearing. I won’t lie, I’m sure I looked like an absolute idiot in those first years of my mashed up clothes, but it led to me slowly evolving in to the realms of designing the clothes beforehand, and then teaching myself the skills of pattern cutting. I was lucky enough to be able to do a week of work experience with a tailor in the town I went to secondary school, and this really cemented my decision to focus on, and learn more about, the complex world that is fashion. Over the past year or so, my main focus has been teaching myself new skills: most pieces, aside from being an opportunity to design a piece of clothing, come about from me having seen a specific technique that I want to learn. This has led to me creating more and more technically challenging pieces, and although I don’t seem to create at the rate that I used to - when I had been mashing together clothes - I’m very happy with how much progress I’ve made.
WORK: Peices by Arthur Boyd
(TCK) When embarking upon a project, do you preplan your entire endeavor or do you simply follow where your inspiration takes you?
AB: This varies a lot. I hate how scripted and enforced some of my college and school work has been/is, so I think that when I’m creating at home I just let myself go wherever I want. I don’t have to justify or explain my actions to a teacher or assessor, so I’m much more free in creating. Oftentimes, a piece will come about out of frustration - whether that be not having enough wearable clothes or anything else that’s bothering me at the time - and I’ll basically scribble in my sketchbook to get the frustration out. These seem to come out as sketches, which I then pick apart for usable features and a possible design. I then refine these further, and if I know I’m interested in it, then I’ll start drafting a pattern. I’d say for about every 40 sketches I do, I might actually produce 1. Unfortunately due to money, time and other restrictions, I can’t produce as many pieces as I’d like, which means I’m really selective in which pieces I make. I try to also factor in an element of wearability, because at the end of the day these are clothes I’m making for myself, so there’s little point spending 3 months on a garment just to hide it away because it’s so outlandish - which does happen.
(TCK) In who or what do you find inspiration?
AB: I find a lot of my inspiration in the world around me: I try to sketch as much as possible, both when out in nature and when surrounded by people in cities. I’ll see an interesting hat and sketch it down and then a design for a suit jacket appears, inspired by the way the brim of the hat falls, or a face mask, or a piece of bark I find in the woods. I also find a lot of inspiration from the fabrics themselves: for example, my last piece - a padded suit jacket - was designed entirely around the fabric, which held a lot of sentimental value. Because of the pandemic, I haven’t been able to go fabric shopping, so have definitely slowed down in terms of production because half of my design process isn’t available. I also am inspired by other media, such as photography, films, art or other designers - I’ve been looking to the work of Kiko Kostadinov for a lot of inspiration, whilst also delving in to the world of classical artists such as Rembrandt and Caravaggio.
WORK BY: Arthur Boyd
(TCK) If you had the opportunity, what creative person (living or dead) would you like to work with? Why?
AB: This is tricky. There are so many incredible artists and designers - living and dead - that I’d love to work with and go to for advice. I think that McQueen’s influence on me and the world is undeniable, but having read accounts of what he was like as a person I don’t think I would want to work with him. This seems to often be the case: artists are more solitary creatures than we would like to admit, and collaboration just results in conflict. That’s the danger of idolising people. I think if I had to choose, then spending time as an apprentice to one of the great masters such as Caravaggio, Turner or Rembrandt would be incredible: that is the way that they all learnt, by training directly under the eye of another master. I don’t really know. Maybe a music artist? I’m looking forward to working with/around others in the future.
(TCK) Do you ever find yourself unable to express your creativity to the fullest? What kinds of things inhibit you and how do you break out of this feeling?
AB: Definitely. This is where that frustration I was talking about comes from: it’s a sad truth that being in a poor mental state does seem to lead to “better” art, at least is the case for many famous artists. I’m lucky enough to be in the best mental state I’ve been in, but I experience these creative blocks that eventually build up enough that I then let it all out, and hope that something interesting comes out as a result. There’s a lot of chance at play, and I think that we, as artists, have to realise that you can’t really force it. It’s like a perfect storm, but one you have to wait for: you don’t know where or when inspiration could come from, so you have to just be attentive and observant and hopefully you’ll witness or experience something that leads to creation. I’ve been indulging in buying myself books on various artists, and when feeling frustrated I look through them for inspiration: these two elements then combine, and although I do tend to sketch out a lot of designs that would be considered plagiarism due to my direct references to the artist I was looking at at the time, one or two good sketches are produced.
(TCK) What's some advice you'd give to another young creative?
AB: I think that the best advice I could give is a phrase I’ve been telling myself to keep myself motivated: “something is always better than nothing”. It stops me from procrastinating, obsessing over other’s work and how I’m seemingly not producing enough, and getting caught in vicious cycles of imposter syndrome. I think the most important thing is that you create for you, and that as long as you feel some sort of satisfaction once finished creating, that’s what counts. And then you do that again and again until you feel you have something that you like enough to show the world. It’s so easy to compare ourselves with others nowadays, and it’s something I’m more than guilty of. But you have to realise that you shouldn’t want others to make less work so you feel better, you need to create more work - and by “more” I don’t mean numerical value, but intrinsic, personal value.
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