It was an absolute pleasure to be asked to speak about color and design with Color Solutions International Color World Blog! Here is the full interview! Yay!
Realizing that she wanted to be a fashion designer since she was seven years old, Amanda Grisham is working towards her dream as she enters her last year of undergraduate study at Oregon State University. Double majoring in Apparel Design and Merchandising Management, as well as minoring in Business and Entrepreneurship, she is well on her way to her ultimate goal: to work as a Creative Director at a women’s sportswear company.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion to me is the tangible synonym of self-expression. Everything is fashion. The way we walk, the way we talk, the way we get dressed in the morning. It realistically has little to do with what we put on our bodies, and much more about the way we carry ourselves when we do so.
How would you define your city’s fashion?
Fashion in Portland is unique, eclectic, and original. You can walk through downtown and see people in three piece suits tipping street artists wearing 90s grunge punk looks. Portland makes no excuses when it comes to fashion, and I love that about it. There are just as many vintage stores as there are department stores, and the culture of the people tends to meet somewhere in the middle-with a mutual appreciation for personal style.
What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?
The first thing I ever designed… I don’t know if I can’t remember by choice or if I blocked it from memory. The fact that I can’t remember must mean that it was either incredibly boring or god-awful. That’s what you’re supposed to do however. Try until you find your place in the design world.
What are some of your accomplishments as a designer? How long have you worked as a designer?
I have had the pleasure of being a student/working designer for the last few years. I have only been sewing for a short period of time, but pursued jewelry design and graphic design for more than six years. As far as apparel goes I have worked with Cotton Incorporated on a collaborative design project that ultimately won top honors at OSU, and most recently I partnered with Pendleton Woolen Mills for my Junior Spring Collection at OSU.
What matters to you most as a fashion designer?
Authenticity matters the most to me. Having an opinion as a designer that is expressed in each look of a collection is my favorite part. If I am listening to the blues while I am designing and come up with a look that is equal parts powerful and soulful, then I have gotten my point across. You can’t take anything in fashion too seriously except for the business part. The design, the aesthetics and the inspiration is the part you get to mold, and take risks with. When you take all of those elements and shake with authenticity, you tend to end up with something that speaks to a common thread of your audience.
How would you define your personal style?
I would define my style as eclectic and moody. I am not afraid to wear heirloom treasures with items newly found on the clearance rack at Forever21. I own just as many pairs of Chuck Taylors as I do high heels, and I am not afraid to say some days my personal style is a pair of boots, week-from-last-wash skinny jeans and an oversized flannel. Style is about the moment that you are in, through the lens of who you are, if you are having the best day ever, and the bright yellow dress in your closet begs you to wear it, you just do.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get inspired from everything. It takes a highly unusual day for me to not go “Oh-Oh My God” when I see something that strikes me. I think inspiration is just as internal as it is external. The moment you say to yourself, I would like to be inspired today…good luck. Inspiration to me wanders in when I least expect it, and I always leave that door open. I think the more original and organic your inspiration is, the more authentic your design aesthetic becomes.
How does color influence you/affect your design?
Color is an incredible marker of design success or failure. Color takes courage, it takes passion, and it often takes defense when used in a new way. Color speaks to emotions and to the psychology of your audience’s perception of your clothing, and for me that is one of my favorite things. I never sketch in color, and I rarely have a color set in mind for myself when I head to the fabric store. You have to know what you want to say, before you allow the colors to say it for you. Color adoption is very much like conducting a symphony, you have to hear certain bits loudly, but have enough underlying beauty that you can strike your audience in one note.
What are your favorite colors to work with and why? What are your favorite patterns [prints] to work with and why?
I always start with black or white. When beginning with a design it is easy to be seduced by the colors or patterns that you are working with. Once you knock out the design, and you introduce color, that is when the magic happens. I love to work with strong colors, deep hues and high contrast colors. I think you have to go big or go home when it comes to color, even if that means using neutrals. Color demands a declaration and an ownership, and patterns are the same way. The most brilliant design in the world is brilliant, but if you cover it in a mind-numbing pattern is it sensational or is it dismissible? That is always the debate. To answer your question however, my favorite color to work with/wear/paint my nails is: red.
What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?
I love this question- one because I will always consider myself an aspiring designer, and I will probably continue to do so, even 50 years from now, and two-because I get to think of myself as a designer, which still makes my 7 year-old self grin inside. I would tell other aspiring designers to fear less, and sew more. I would say the biggest light bulb for me, was letting myself fall in love with the craft. There are days it is going to love you, and there are days you are going to absolutely wish you had chosen another life path, but if you view design as the marriage that it is you’ll know those days will pass. When I was 14 I heard a quote from Puff Daddy (who I am sure was beyond cool then, like Justin Beiber cool) and he said “I fell in love with music, like you fall in love with the woman that you marry, I couldn’t even sleep,” and that is exactly how I feel about design. A good seamstress gets her feet wet, and a designer dives in head first.
Beyond the emotion of design, I would say the second part is KNOW THE BUSINESS (and yes I did yell that in my mother’s disciplinary tone). You have to know what is going on in your finances, your marketing, your sales, and your brand development. Don’t say “Uh well-I just do it because I love it” and hope success will come out of your goodwill and kindness… you can keep waiting. Design is the absolute most competitive industry in the world, and will be until people decide to go to the office naked, so pay attention.
What colors would you predict will be major influences in the SS 2012 season?
I would say the watercolor version of the pop-art brights we saw this year. If you were to make a cocktail of this year’s tribal tones, add a little bit of the deep seedy vampire aesthetic and a measure or two of depth & contrast, I think you’d end up with a pretty influential palette for the SS 2012 Season. All that poetic-ness aside I think we will be seeing grey, black and white running alongside a whole family of reds, yellows and oranges.
Big THANK YOU to Color Solutions International Color World Blog!