Faye Johnson's Patterns In Process explores the creation of a fashion collection from behind the scenes. The book, hard-backed and laden with a multitude of different printing techniques and processes, focuses on visual patterns found at each stage of the making of a fashion collection, ultimately offering an alternative perspective to the garments themselves.
TRIP: How and when did you first get into Fashion?
Faye Johnson: When I was really young, my sister and I used to invent groups of people, and we used to stick pieces of paper together and draw all the characters in a line, each with individual outfits on. I think that was probably where I first thought about clothing as an expression of personality.
TRIP: You studied at the University of The West of England. Would you say that studying and living in Bristol has had an influence on your work?
Faye Johnson: Definitely. I like that Bristol fashion doesn’t take itself too seriously, and people have fun with their clothing choices. People tend to dress alike within social circles, but there isn’t really any of that elitist attitude to fashion that you sometimes come across in bigger cities.
TRIP: Are there any particular Photographers or Designers who have inspired you?
Faye Johnson: There are so many! Key people that come to mind are photographers Guy Bourdin and Viviane Sassen, stylist Simon Foxton and art director Christiane Bordner.
TRIP: What is it about the ‘Fashion Image’ - or more specifically the creation of Fashion imagery, that you are drawn to?
Faye Johnson: The narrative possibilities behind a single image are what draw me to a photograph. I approach Fashion imagery from the linking of ideas and presenting them in ways that do not focus on physical garments, but the ideas themselves.
TRIP: Could you explain to us the idea behind your book ‘Patterns in Process’…
Faye Johnson: I created the book to subvert the natural outcome of a Fashion collection and reveal the beauty in the design process. I focused on the patterns found at each stage of the creative journey, whether that was human rituals such as coffee at a certain time each day, or mechanical patterns such as stitching techniques and physical garment patterns. I wanted to highlight the parts of the making of the collection that are often overlooked, and present the development behind the collection as an alternative final outcome.
TRIP: Before you started this project, did you ever think photographs of everyday objects could be so endearing? and produce a great set of imagery?
Faye Johnson: I think that Fashion is a way of looking at things, and trying to present your perspective. Everyday things can look however you want them to, depending on how you present them. I wanted to focus on what the objects represented about the designer, her ideas and way of working.
TRIP: This is in no doubt a physical book. There is a level of detail and craft that requires a personal handling to really experience its beauty – from the quality of the print even down to the paper weight and texture. Where you ever tempted to produce an online book? What are your opinions on the decline of print and the birth of e-magazines and Kindles?
Faye Johnson: I think the book needed to be physical to represent the craftsmanship that goes into the completion of a fashion collection, and the selection of materials I used reflects the level of detail that went into each piece in the collection. I think printed publications will never die, there is an added design element involved in producing printed pieces which can be the most important influence on how the work is perceived. Having said that, I love my kindle and am always downloading books on it, its a really convenient and sustainable way of carrying loads of books around.
TRIP: Did you ever want to be a Fashion Designer yourself? Have your opinions changed on this as a result of this project?
Faye Johnson: No, I took a pattern cutting course in Brighton alongside my art foundation, but I enjoy producing imagery rather than clothing. Sewing is one of those things that can be really relaxing or really frustrating, and for me it never seems to go quite right!
TRIP: How would you defy the role of an ‘Art Director’?
Faye Johnson: I think an Art Director is someone who comes up with an overall concept for a creative venture, and directs and collaborates with others who have the necessary skills to realise it.
TRIP: Your Portfolio is vast in that it covers a number of different roles within Fashion – from Art Director to Photographer and Stylist. This may be tricky – but what is the one you enjoy the most?
Faye Johnson: Well, styling is the job I am most comfortable with and have most experience in. I enjoy it, but it can be limiting because it focuses on one area rather than the overall outcome. I really love photography and am working on improving my technical skills, as at the moment I cannot fully realise my ideas in the way I would like. So for that reason I would say Art Direction, as I have complete control over the overall concept, and can leave the technical bits in the hands of people who know what they are doing!
TRIP: What's next for you?
Faye Johnson: I am currently collaborating with a fellow graduate, experimenting with set design and visuals for a regular house and techno night in Bristol. I have just got a temporary job as a creative and marketing manager in Bristol, and am going to keep experimenting with my photography alongside that. I am also learning German, as next summer I am moving to Berlin to pursue Art Direction in a city that really inspires me.