In November last year one of our favourite multi-disciplinary Brisbane artists, Amy Crow, posted a couple of designs online of the work she was doing which centred around female empowerment. After a resoundingly positive response from her followers, her new apparel project FUTURE =FEMALE was born. Not even three months later shes getting ready for the pop-up launch of FUTURE=FEMALE. We had a chat to her about the impetus behind the designs, using screen printing as an artistic medium and why everybody is loving FUTURE=FEMALE.
So what inspired you to start FUTURE= FEMALE?
I started FUTURE = FEMALE after coming back from the US. There was this excellent shop in Nolita called BULLETIN and it was full of rad neon pink lights, cool stock, handmade things and pins etc. The general vibe was sassy and I had never seen feminist art or design like that, it had always been bloody tampons and desaturated photos of women lying down with stained underwear and I didn't want to be like that.
I could totally get behind BULLETIN's aesthetic though. So when I came back I had been just making these vector illustrations for the sake of posting on Instagram because I treat that like my ongoing resume. I had upgraded my account to a business account and I could see the engagement. I had also visited a show at OneSpace Gallery where Sam Tupou was showing some of his recent work. He's a screen printer commercially but also uses his design eye to create some incredibly stunning pieces. It gave me the urge to screen print again, I had all the materials already but they were gathering dust in my garage. So I thought, fuck it, those Instagram posts are doing well I reckon I could sell some paper prints. Then I just whacked some on shirts and got real ballsy and said "hey does anyone want one?" and it's been busy ever since.
As a multi-disciplinary artist, tell me about the process of making the shirts and the prints. What challenges has it posed and what’s something you love about working in this medium?
Medium wise, everything is screen printed. I've always loved screen printing because it's so tactile, it's instantaneous and there's a lot of leeway. Colour mixing is one of my favourite parts. The fact you can get neons and metallics so easily really excites me — it makes it so much more interesting than just a digital print.
Sometimes I'll fuck up a shirt and I'll get really down about it because there is cost involved there, but I've decided that if I fuck one up, I can cover it with these blank shape screens I have, then I just start layering shapes and colours and they become their own thing. Surprisingly enough I get a great response from them and end up selling them as unique one offs.
In terms of paper printing, I've recently been experimenting with a technique called flocking which usually involves a felt powder called flock, but you can get really cool results doing the same things with glitter. I also enjoy marbling because I have some blank shapes, you can marble several colours through the shape and get some awesome effects that you can't recreate. I think screen printing is a really amazing form of commercially viable art that is unique and tactile. People connect with it and also see value in it. You can have consistency but also change, the perfect combination as a designer.
How’s the response been to the project so far? Is it what you expected?
The response has been far greater than I had anticipated. I also spent time really testing the waters with my audience, I made small decisions that led to bigger ones. People think the poll options on Instagram stories is funny, I use it to understand my audience and what they want and don't want. It's been fairly calculated so far.
Why do you think people are responding to these designs so well?
I think it's a timely thing for the designs personally, with the "MeToo" and "Time's Up" campaigns coupled with the rage over taxing of tampons as "luxury products" and Trump and the wage gap, it's really all come to a head. A lot of people are wound up about it, and with good reason. I just want to have my say in the conversation and this is the best way for me because it engages but also connects.
I think as well, from an aesthetic point of view, they aren't whimsical, soft designs, they have a bit of sass and a bit of guts to them and I think a lot of women really vibe with that. I've been talking to a potential stockist in Melbourne and I said to her that one of the reasons I wanted to do this was because there's a gap in the market for women's street wear. She agreed with me. Guys get super rad prints and then they just don't translate over to the women's range for some reason. Being a chick who likes skulls and grunge textures and bold type, I just never see much of what I want to wear marketed to females so I thought I would start.
We had a chat to you last year about your wood panel paintings, your practice has obviously developed since then. What drew you to screen printing?
I've been screen printing and dabbling for years. It can be time consuming and expensive and that's why you have to really be sure of what you want to produce before you do it. I had halted doing screen work a few years back when my mum and I had started a small business, I guess I got a bit tired at that point and I have a real fear of waste. I don't want to make work that will be thrown aside quickly. I want to be make good quality work that people want to own and not let go of.
What do you think are three things that have got FUTURE=FEMALE off the ground?
1. Will to add to the culture
2. Many Instagram polls
3. Support from my community and cash dollars. These things don't come for free you have to put some hard cash down and some point and commit.
Whats's next for you?
POP UP LAUNCH! Super excited, I really wanted to have a bit of an event and see people come and see what their reactions to the work is. That's selfishly for research because that helps me make new work or tweak the work I already do. Also it's exciting to have a launch! After that, I am aiming to get a few stockists, I would love one in every state in Aus.
Where can people get a hold of your designs?
Check out www.amycrow.com/new-products and there's the whole range there. Or you can look at my instagram @amycrow_design for stories, polls and updates.