Creative Process : The Magic Dust Kimono feat Bay Doucet

 

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, I was in despair. I felt the weight of the world and my anxiety rocketed. In times like this, I would always turn to art to help calm me down, specifically the art of mark making. 

Mark making is a term used for the creation of different patterns, lines, textures and shapes. This may be on a piece of paper, on the floor, outside in the garden or on an object or surface (source: pacey.org)

In my artworks, I tend to use a lot of mark making to create textures and patterns. I started off using acrylic paint and paper to make these marks, and then color pencils, and sometimes I add markers and pens. There are no rules, honestly. When I got my iPad, I started doing digital mark making - which was easier and more accessible as i'm able to do it anywhere and everywhere. 

So here I was, in lockdown, anxious and bored out of my mind. I started mark making on the iPad - thinking about the future, trying to cheer myself up with all my favorite colors, thinking about movement and excitement, in a time where we were imprisoned in our own homes. The Magic Dust print is an embodiment of that moment of time - to counter the dark depressing period with color and life. 

When I was done with the print, I knew I wanted to turn it into a Kimono for Project MIRRO. Luck wasn't on my side though, factories were not operational during the lockdown. I had already contacted Bay Doucet then, if she was interested in a collab, as I knew right off the bat she'd be perfect to model and photograph the Kimonos. But due to all the Covid complications - I decided to delay production of the Kimonos until the time was right. 

A bit about Bay for those who don't know - She is a Malaysian model, photographer and co-founder of Loop. You can check out her work here. She models her own shoots, takes her own pics and even edits them herself. Truly a multi-talented queen! I've only known Bay through work when she was still at Riuh. We did some content for Riuh together. Since then I've been following her journey and I have been amazed at her work.

Fast forward to 2022, the endemic is upon us. Everything was opening up again, and little by little life went back to normal-ish. I contacted Bay again to model and shoot, got my factories to get on with it, and within a few weeks, the Kimonos were ready to go.

During my creative discussion with Bay, I decided to only give basic and vague directions for the campaign photos. I wanted to give Bay free reign and creative freedom to do what she's best at and see what happens. I was so excited when she showed me her mood board - it was exactly the kind of  vibe I was going for, but better. When she was done with the shoot (which btw, she modeled herself, photographed and art directed!!) she passed the photos to me and I was super excited. The next part was me adding my illustrations to the images.

Initially I planned the illustrations to be like a collage of florals and shapes on top of the images. But when I saw how the images turned out, I decided to insert my illustrations into the images, blurring the line between what's real and what's not.

Here's an example of Bay's image before the edits :

Here's my edit :

I made sure to add only subtle edits and illustrations to the image as I wanted the essence of Bay's perspective to come through. I was thinking of a magical dreamy garden when I was doing the edits. Subtle flowers, some fairy dust here and there, and overall - MAGIC vibes. 

You can view the rest of the look book here.

I've also managed to ask Bay some questions on her thought process. You can read it below :

1 - What inspired you for the concept? When you first saw the kimono designs, what were your first thoughts in terms of how to shoot it? And your edits too - why did you choose that particular edit? I would love to hear your thought process behind the scenes. 

The kimono designs reminded me of a garden filled with blooms at the start of spring, the bright colours, the brush strokes, it felt like watching flowers sway in the breeze. I decided to shoot it in a garden setting, mainly putting the kimono designs against a background of fresh greens so that they would pop the way colourful flowers do when surrounded by green leaves. The pattern also felt very free, so exploring the photographs in a wide open setting felt right. 

For the editing, I don't ever really 'choose' which direction to go in. Usually after looking through the raw photos, I let the mood and feeling of each photo guide me intuitively with the colours. Usually I spend some time editing just one image until it is exactly how I like it, then base the other photos off of that one so they all look cohesive. I try not to plan too much throughout my process because I enjoy seeing where each shoot organically leads me to – this one led me to a final result that felt very reminiscent of a carefree summer. 

2 - Who inspires you? and why? (in terms of photography / art direction / art in general)

There isn't really a particular person who inspires me when it comes to art and photography – I am inspired daily by the things around me. Sometimes it is a wildly overgrown bougainvillea plant, with vibrant pink blooms, growing along a wall covered in graffiti, the colours in contrast with a bright blue garbage bin that's placed beside it. These little things you notice when you are actively looking. I think training myself to actively look, then actively appreciate the mish mash of things I see daily keeps me inspired. 

Of course there are plenty of photographers and creatives I look up to – but I do think there can sometimes be a danger in being inspired by others' work. I prefer to seek inspiration from around me, I feel it results in work that feels more like me.

3 - What was the funnest part about doing the shoot, and the most challenging part abt the shoot?

I got to shoot this in my friend's garden, and it was the first time I'd let someone else observe my self-shoot process! That was interesting, I felt myself getting self conscious with another person present, but at the same time comforted that I wasn't doing it all alone. The most challenging part is trying to take self portraits outdoor under the blazing sun – hardly being able to see the screen of my camera and sweating like crazy! 

4- Your advice to budding photographers / models / creatives? 

Take time to get to know yourself, and try as hard as you can to hold on to your childlike curiosity. I've always been interested in a bunch of different things at the same time, and when I was younger I was told to pick ONE. As an adult, my life now is an active rebellion on what I was told as a teen, and having the privilege to lean into all my passions and curiosities fills me with so much joy. I think each person's unique combination of skills, interests, passions & hobbies can come together to give their creative work a very strong personality – lean into your interests instead of feeling pressured to choose only one and ignore the rest. 
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To re-cap, I'm so happy The Magic Dust Kimonos FINALLY came to life. You can purchase them here. Do tag @projectmirro if you ever wear this Kimono out and about! :)

 


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