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Class of 2017: BA (Hons) Fashion Illustration with Clara Searle


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Published date
17 May 2017

Up next in our Class of 2017 series, BA (Hons) Fashion Illustration student Clara Searle talks to us about her time at LCF. She discusses the cinematic inspiration on her work, the techniques and ideas she used as well as her hopes for the future.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the moment you knew you wanted to study fashion?

I’ve always been a very visual person; growing up, I spent a lot of time reading comic books, watching films, and following musicians who were visually powerful, like Michael Jackson in my childhood, and bands like My Chemical Romance in my teens. Like them, I found that fashion was a way of expressing who I am as a person, especially as I’m generally quiet and shy. I used to write and draw my own comics and loved developing characters, and found that fashion was a great way of projecting who the characters were. I started to study a lot of brands, movements and cultures, and this evolved into an interest of its own. When I started looking at universities, I came across LCF and I realised that fashion covered all of these interests and skills I’d built up over the years.

Talk us through your final project…..

My final major project explores creating a character and narrative from the inspiration point of criminal imagery and iconography. I’ve always been intrigued by the psychology behind criminals, and combined this with my love of 20th century crime films such as Taxi Driver and Goodfellas. I started looking at specific case studies such as Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy and the Columbine shooters, and created styling archetypes from these and applied them to my model. It sounds relatively simple but I tried to be as thorough in my research and experimentation as possible.

My final piece of work demonstrates the character I have created. The narrative is expressed by traits and styling choices to be interpreted by the viewer. I haven’t been explicit in what the character has committed, and I want to leave that open to interpretation. The distortion of the images emphasises the darkness and ‘broken’ elements of the subject’s persona and psyche.

What techniques or theories did you use to create your final piece of work?

My final pieces are analogue and digitally enhanced photography. I used a lot of image manipulation through the project and felt it would translate well in my final pieces. Digital printing was also integral to the pieces as they are large scale prints.

Have you undertaken any work experience or done a placement whilst at LCF? 

Whilst at LCF, I did some work experience with Dazed Media and Wallpaper* magazine. I found the Dazed placement through an email from uni, and applied for it by sending my CV and samples of my writing. The Wallpaper* internship I got by emailing members of the magazine’s departments directly. One of the department heads then put me in touch with another who were looking for an intern. I then went for an interview and got the spot.

Have you met or been inspired by any speakers from the industry whilst at LCF?

Not necessarily speakers, but I found my tutors inspiring as they have industry experience and were able to give me great references and tips for my work. This includes guest lecturers as well as those on my course full-time.

Describe your work and aesthetic in five words…

Stimulating, dark, psychological, social and cinematic.

Do you have a muse?

With regards to my final major project, my model Calum became somewhat of a muse. I was building characters onto him, and his features translated my styling, which meant that he was someone who I really had to study and understand physically to effectively and accurately communicate my ideas.

What influences your style and work?

My style and work is definitely influenced by cinema, again, this is especially true of 20th century crime and psychological films. Music is also an essential influence on my work too. I also love looking at classical and contemporary artists for inspiration. Some of these are illustrators, but many are also photographers and fine artists.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m hoping to pursue a career in art and fashion publishing. I would love to design large photographic art books. I’d also love to do some more academic writing following my dissertation. My artistic and illustrative practice is something I think I will always do, although not necessarily on a professional basis.

Throughout my course, I’ve had to create illustrative content for publication so I already have the skills, knowledge and understanding to really get involved in the publishing industry. The course has also taught me how to work with a client in mind, a factor which is key in the industry. LCF has also allowed me to take on ACA training in both Adobe Illustrator and InDesign, and I feel these will really help when I’m seeking experience or employment.

Have you heard that LCF is moving to east London? What do you think about the move?

I have. It’s weird to think that I won’t see LCF in Shepherd’s Bush or Oxford Circus anymore, especially the latter. It’s crazy how many people tell me they’ve seen my college when they’ve come on holiday to London from my home country Gibraltar. But I think it’ll be a good move as East London is really becoming a hub for fashion. It’ll also be nice to have the whole college in one place.

What do you think Brexit means for the fashion industry and studying in London?

I think Brexit will definitely take its toll on the industry. There’s already been brands affected by it, both big and small. Brexit still has a lot of questions around it, and as a student from Gibraltar, I’m worried on the impact it might have.

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