Tell us about yourself
I’m currently in my last year of fashion print. I did the foundation originally. My dad’s from Peru, my mum’s from Grenada and Saint Lucia, the Caribbean; so a lot of my work is about my identity and trying to understand myself and my culture through my work. That’s what my first collection (and final major project at uni) was about.
How would you describe yourself now as a creative?
I think different things: I’m an illustrator, I’m a designer, I’m a printer-textiles. On my internship, a lot of the people were menswear students and I always felt like I wasn’t the best because I do fashion print. But when I was the only one who knew how to (screen) print, it made me realise what was amazing about being a print student. In fashion print and knit you’re making textiles and you have to pattern cut and you need to know how to connect things together. In the industry, you’re not just going to be pattern cutting, it’s not just a silhouette.
Tell us about your final major project (FMP)
My final major project is a message in a bottle to my dad who passed away when I was younger, it’s about my culture. When people think about Peru they think about the touristy things like Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. But there’s so many amazing things that people don’t know about culture-wise, dance-wise, festival-wise, different landmarks.
I also tried to think about what would Peruvian textiles be like in the future. I looked at cactuses, mescaline and psychedelia as inspiration for illustrations and print – lots of psychedelic shaman artwork. Also the Nazca Lines – the denim collection was inspired by that.
I really wanted my collection to be sustainable but I think the only part that was were the plastic bags! They’re working class Peruvian bags that my family use and I always think are really beautiful.
What support did you receive in making this work?
I never felt like the tutors weren’t there for me, they were only an email away if I needed them or on the days they were here I could speak to them. The pressure of being here is obvious and anxiety and stuff but apart from that I do feel you have a proper support system, especially on print, there’s twenty students and enough tutors.
The reality is you’re not going to be sewing most of the things yourself – there is help. It’s really important if you’re sewing specialist fabrics. I also had my cousin Sasmani helping me and two first years and one second year. I had two really organised first years who were on top on things. The tutors allocate who they think would be best for you.
What are you looking forward to achieving professionally in the future?
Obviously, trying to sell my work; not compromising my ideas and aesthetic for people. Maybe do an MA but I don’t want to do it straight away. I really want to go to LA; especially with the Latin American community there, I think it would be amazing to collaborate and work with different artists. And the same in Peru; to work with artisans and collaborate with other people.
I really want to be a designer but I also want to make a change to do something for my culture and community to represent us not as stereotypes and to look at the future, to not just fetishise the past. It’s not just fashion print I’m interested in, it’s illustration, art, photography, how we are as people; politics and Trump’s stereotyping of Mexican people.
Either personal or professional, was is the one most important thing that you achieved from studying fashion print?
The most important thing was I learnt the right way to make things for myself – especially learning what works best for me and my style. In the beginning, I thought everything needed to be screen-printed but I learnt so many techniques that can be merged together. So, there’s digital print, vinyl, painting, resining, even devoré which is when you burn away the natural fabric. There’s acid dye, puff print, sublimation, embroidery; so many things you can work together. They’ve got digital embroidery machines now, this comes under fashion print too.
What would you tell your first-year self?
To get a rest and don’t stay in the library past 12 – don’t do all-nighters in the library! I’d tell myself to relax more. The first years now – all of them have seen, especially with social media – how much people have achieved and they feel like they have to achieve that now. I feel they need to understand it’s okay to make mistakes because that’s what makes you understand what works and doesn’t work for you. Don’t put too much pressure on you, enjoy it – don’t overdo yourself. Make sure especially in your first year that you go out and relax with your mates. Wellbeing, it’s important.
Any tips for surviving university?
Be organised, that’s important. Think ahead, if you know you have an idea for a project or there’s a project in the future, you can always start researching before. And don’t just use the library.
Or if you’re doing something on your culture, having personal photos, pictures, these things will make your research more ‘you’ as well.
I think it has helped me a lot to focus on my own culture. Because I have a duality in my culture and there’s not a lot of people that have that mix and understanding. I think it’s important to look at your culture because that’s what’s made you ‘you’. I don’t think enough students to that. And it’s really interesting to do that. Especially students who come here and feel ashamed of their culture, they shouldn’t do that. They try to hide where they’re from and their identity and what makes them ‘them’. That’s what makes you special, no one’s going to have the same background and difference. What they’re interested in, music, people, groups of friends; even if you think it’s embarrassing that’s what’s interesting about you. It’s not about being popular.