There are only a few things about being human that can transcend language, time and space. One is laughter, another is art. Coming in a near-universal third, is the T-shirt. To celebrate the art of the tee, T-world journal founder Eddie Zammit, The Galeries, aMBUSH Gallery, and six designers have combined forces for the ultimate tee time.
The designers, including Natalie Wood of Something Else, have been invited to create one-off designs that will be screen printed live at The Galeries. As shoppers, you can immerse yourselves in tees, laughter and free drinks (another thing to add to the Things That Are Appreciated Universally list), while you check out the giant T-shirt installation hanging from the ceiling.
The live screen-printing will take place on Thursday 20 September at The Galeries from 6:00pm.
We got a chance to chat to Natalie Wood about her yin yang smiley-face tee design before she jumped on a plane headed for Berlin.
How did you get involved in the Galeries Loves T’s exhibition?
I heard about Eddie Zammit of T-world (the t-shirt guru!) through a friend after he did a show in Sydney. I contacted him originally to see if I could donate my tee collection, possibly to a show or for archives. We met for a coffee and it was so great to hear about all the exciting things he had on the go, he gave me a copy of his new book and we talked about possibly doing something together one day. Eddie has an incredible energy and is a wealth of knowledge on tee designers. We’ve stayed in contact and I was very fortunate he invited me to be a part of this show at The Galeries.
Can you tell us about the t-shirt you’ve designed for the exhibition?
It was one of those things, when you consider what kind of art would represent you and your city the best it’s hard to come up with an image for that. I personally love symbols and their simplicity, and the yin yang really sums up my perspective on life. I even have a tattoo of it. The art director, George Barnes, who I work with on Something Else, helped me pull the design together, and I suggested we put the type ‘Something Else loves Sydney’. Playing around with it, he cleverly turned it into a smiley face with the type. It was a total double whammy for me! The balance of dark and light, good and bad, life’s journey… and a smiley face just to be sure it’s all radiantly positive.
What is it about T-shirts that makes them so popular?
T-shirts are the most simple garment you can make. Made of cotton jersey, they are easy to clean, comfortable and cheap to buy. They can work in every climate, on every body shape and for both sexes. They can also come in any color with a huge array of prints. They cover from high end down to tourist tees and generic work labels. They are the most versatile garment. Plus they can also say a lot about you – identify you as a surfer, a skater, a fashion junky, a jokester, a tourist, daggy or cool. With one tee, you can sum up so much about a person.
How many T-shirts do you own?
I’ve actually never counted, but I have kept an archive of tees since the 90s. It could be up around 300 or so, which includes a lot I’ve also designed that I can’t bring myself to throw out. Mind you, if I’d kept one of every tee I’ve ever designed or art directed it would be in the thousands.
What was your favourite T-shirt as a kid?
I really loved this tee when I was about 8 that had super cool illustrations of fruit printed on it and a bright yellow bind v-neck. It was very 70s, and I wore it till it could be worn no more.
What was your inspiration for the current Something Else collection?
The spring collection was about a peyote inspired trip through the desert. It was about a renegade gun-toting hot goddess who could beat anyone at a game of poker.
What is it that draws you to particular artists for collaborative projects?
The main thing would be that their artwork can work on garments and be relevant to someone wearing it. Not all art can do this, so it’s a specific look you need. It also helps if the artist can understand how to work to a brief and perhaps has a bit of an understanding about printing. As it’s for fashion, you really do need to also make sure it’s got the right feel for the current trends. With Something Else, we create themes and story lines for each collection so we are usually looking for an artist who will work well with the theme.
What’s your favourite season for fashion?
I think it’s probably winter as that’s when you get to design more comprehensively and cover more categories. I also really love designing knitwear so that’s when I get to be the most creative with yarns.
What’s next for you?
I’m about to jump on a plane now headed for Berlin to spend a week soaking up art and culture for some fresh inspiration.
Then back to the office in Sydney to review new samples and get started on designing for Summer 2013. Then there’s some new projects coming up, some changes for me in direction… it’s exciting and daunting all at the same time.
Do you have personal projects you’re working on?
At the moment Something Else consumes most of my creative time, but I have an apartment that I’m about to start working on and that’s going to be where I can bring in my passion for interior design. Who knows what that may lead to.