Interview: Alec Coiro
Portrait: Logan Jackson
All Other Images Courtesy of the Artist
Our Claire Christerson fandom recently hit a peak when she simul-published two books featuring her drawings. Now she’s completely flipped the medium for the drawings with a new clothing line that is being launched with an inaugural collection of scarves. Already ahead of the game as a clothing designer in my book because she purposely eschewed the t-shirt and tote route, the resulting foulards are an elegant expression of Christerson’s playful drawings. The fact that the results are so successful comes as no surprise once we learn that her affinity for scarves goes all the way back to her childhood. We got a chance to ask her a few questions about the project, and the scarves are at the Hester Street Fair this Saturday (July 21st), and if you’re not Hester Street adjacent, they’re also available here.
What was the process like of transforming your drawings into patterns? Is there an extra artistic layer involved when a single image becomes a pattern?
Well the whole thing becomes simplified. You worry less about a bigger picture, and focus on one small detail and how it will look as a garment. It’s just understanding the shape and color and understanding how it will look when worn. Then deciding if it will work. One thing I do make sure of when I am creating these patterns is whether or not the design will look good when folded and abstracted by use. My mom really likes to wear scarves, and growing up, I was always looking at her scarf collection and the way that the designs are organized feels very second nature to me. I’d help my mom to pick out a scarf for her outfit, and that perhaps subconsciously helped to inform how I like to design these pieces.
As a follow up: you have so many drawings just in the books I’ve seen that could be perfect for a scarf pattern. How did you narrow them down and choose?
I’m only just scratching the surface, sometimes it’s hard to choose. Right now I am focused on making a grouping where each design is different. I choose based on what will feel most different from the last.
It looks like the scarves are large enough to be worn as a kind of scarf dress. Is that accurate? Any practical tips for how to achieve this effect with a scarf?
People have been wearing them in a lot of different ways. Sometimes as a skirt. I like that. I don’t want to dictate how to wear this item, it’s fun to see what people come up with.
I'd help my mom to pick out a scarf for her outfit, and that perhaps subconsciously helped to inform how I like to design these pieces.
How do you pick the scarves upon which you print, and what is the printing/production process like?
They are digitally printed and then when I get them I hem them myself.
Is fashion something you’d care to pursue beyond this evolving scarf collection? Are you interested in designing other accessories or clothes, or do you want to focus the particular aspect you’re working on now?
When I was in high school, my aunt taught me how to sew and that sparked my interest in making everything myself. This way of thinking has evolved with me through my work over the years. In the high school days, I was very into making my own outfits and wearing them to school and treating it like a fashion show that only I was involved with. Over the years I have made costumes for other people, collaborations and my own work. Right now I am working on reinserting my own love for fashion and the pure joy of making my own clothing into my work, particularly for my solo show coming up in September. I would definitely love to eventually make more clothing for people that spans outside the world of my art practice and make clothing that exists for every day wear. Fashion has always influenced my work, it comes in different ways but it’s always there. To me it’s an attitude first and foremost.