Independent illustrator and founder of Freak Boutique London, Alice Dean will be in our Cheshire Street store this weekend painting leather jackets and other leather items. So we asked her a few questions about her radical artwork...
Tell us a little about yourself?
Glam Goth, South Londoner and leather painting lady!
What drew you towards painting onto leather?
I used to work at a fantastic shop called Bang Bang Clothing Exchange where we bought, sold and exchanged second-hand designer, vintage and high street items. We had a few plain accessories that weren't selling so the owner and very good friend of mine Lucy asked me to start customizing a couple of pieces. They sold really quickly and people's reactions were really positive! Sadly the shop closed down in March, but I knew that I had to continue doing it as I loved it so much. Lucy and others around me were also very encouraging, and I haven't been able to stop since!
I've always had an affinity with jackets, I feel as though they speak louder than any other garment. I like to create things that empower people and also make people laugh! I think it's fantastic when clothing becomes interactive, when people become so engrossed in reading and looking at every inch of a garment.
Where does the inspiration come from for your designs?
I grew up surrounded by Keith Haring, I collected 70s and 80s album artwork, magazines and various memorabilia, from Hi Nrg Pop to Thrash Metal, and obsessed over Gregg Araki and David Lynch movies and horror films like Suspiria. I've always always been drawn to bold, kitsch and cartoony graphics. Also I've shared a room with my best friend, Joel for almost four years who is the most dedicated person I know to getting ready and dressing up! Every morning I wake up to an explosion of colour as he gets up at 5 am to do his make up, and every day is a different look. It's so exciting, it would be insane if I wasn't inspired!
Whats the most unusual / crazy design youve created?
It's not particularly unusual or crazy but I didn't think that I would be staying up until 3 in the morning ripping the heads off of Barbie dolls and dying their hair green and purple!
Do you have a personal favourite design you have done?
All of them! I love all of them dearly but I guess the Love Heart jacket is the one with my favourite story behind it. Until creating that, I had mainly been drawing abstract faces and focusing on characters. The day after my birthday I fell asleep on a bus and woke up to a stranger touching my legs. After reporting them to the bus driver I felt so angry for days afterwards, and began thinking about the scarily long list of situations that I'd been in before that were similar. AND I'd heard so many stories from other people, it's really shocking how often this happens. It lit a fire inside me and the Love Heart design was born from that! It's all about being powerful, reclaiming your body and your personal space, whoever you are and battling negativity with a sense of humour! My current designs have all developed from there.
What inspires your personal style?
I've always been drawn to the theatrical and extravagant from a young age, I watched the Rocky Horror Picture show when I was five and it pretty much started there! I've always been a huge music geek and drawn to performers that are like cartoon characters and super heroes, from Klaus Nomi and Motley Crue, to Madonna and Marilyn Manson. I love the characters you can create through clothing, one day I can be a 1980s Valley girl going to the Bat Cave club one day and then look like I'm going to a Victorian funeral the next!
If you could paint a jacket for anyone, who would it be and what design?
Anything for the late Pete Burns, as a person and his work with Dead or Alive, he has always been a huge inspiration to me and provided a soundtrack to my life. I would have loved to have done something inspired by his Nukleopatra album - fearless, powerful and glamorous!
Don't miss our amazing leather painting event with Alice this weekend at Cheshire Street! She'll be in store working her magic from 12-6 on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th. Its first come first serve, plus if you buy any leather to be painted on from the store you'll get 10% off! More details on our facebook event... : Leather Painting Event with Freak Boutique London!