"Rad Talk" is a new column running on The Emma Edition, for 2013. In this column I interview creative people who make my life all the more rad and whose work I think deserves a wider audience. I’ll be giving them a forum to speak on things they may never been asked in a typical interview. Today I am featuring artist, Kayla Mattes. A new interview is posted on Fridays.
"How I Spent My Summer Vacation" necklace
Q: How did you first get interested in fiber arts?
A: “As a kid I used to build homemade looms for weaving, and my great-grandmother taught me how to hand-knit. I’ve generally always had a natural attraction to pattern and textures but didn’t fully realize it until I first saw the textiles studio at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) two weeks before the major declaration deadline. The hundreds of cones of brightly colored yarn, and crazy contraptions throughout the studios are what basically sold me. Working with fibers quickly became an obsession!”
Q: Materials seem to be such an important part to your work. How do you choose the materials you want to work with?
A: “I guess I'm kind of an oddball in terms of my attractions to yarns and fabrics because unlike a lot of textile designers I often overlook traditionally 'high-end' materials like silks and natural fibers. I mostly find myself obsessed with plastics and spandex and fabrics with crazy finishes. Something about synthetics drives me wild, but I do often love working with wools and mohairs because you can dye them (NEON) so easily, plus they feel nice. I'm constantly material sourcing and collecting. I am in the midst of designing my F/W jewelry collection, which is mostly constructed with these air hoses I found at this amazing rubber store in NY. The hoses have this really unique flexibility to them, and I have found some fun ways to pair them with knits and metals.”
Q: Your S/S ‘13 summer camp collection is great. I have such distinct memories of camp, when the tradition of the lanyard stitching was passed down to me---a time when making friendship bracelets felt so consequential to relationships. I love how much thought you gave to naming each jewelry piece in the collection…. I can really imagine some tween girl sitting around camp with her lanyard in each of these situations. Do you have close ties to your camp days or is it just a vibe you’re trying to emulate?
A: “Thanks! I put a lot of thought into the names, which were definitely sourced from memories of my own camp days. From the fires, the bunk-beds, the mess hall, and the friendships, all of those experiences along with my textile and material sensibilities are what helped shaped the development of the collection.”
"Friendships 4 a lifetime'" necklace
"Trail 2 the treasure" Necklace
Q: Do you have any specific memories involving lanyard when you were younger you can share?
A: “’I kept all of my lanyard creations tucked away in this special hand-painted box, and I recently realized my Dad still uses a lanyard keychain that I made for him more than 10 years ago. Apparently lanyards last forever.”
Q: I’ve read that you have plans to expand Summer Camp into a large textile collection. Not only am I super excited about this, but I am already dreaming of a collection debut involving roasting marshmallows over the campfire. What do you have in mind?
A: “Well Summer Camp is its own collection, meaning my upcoming Fall jewelry collection will work with a totally new concept, but I'm definitely planning to expand my line to include knitwear of a similar spirit. I've been dabbling with programming my electronic Brother knitting machine to hook up to my laptop so that I can knit out Photoshopped patterns. I love working with really graphic knits, as you can see from the furbies, smileys, and aliens featured in my Neo-90ies knitwear collection. I'm hoping to release a collection of graphic-knit sweaters using this laptop-technique within the next year or so!”
"Top Bunk Dreamin'" necklace
"1st Kiss By the Council Fire" necklace
Q: It’s lanyard-making only from an Internet perspective. A lot of your work seems to derive inspiration from the Internet, right? Can you talk about this?
A: “I'm fascinated with the parallels between the birth of the internet, and the playful aesthetics that the internet embraced in its beginnings. Its childhood was often plastered with brightly colored unreadable text, gifs crawling all over the pages, and midi's screaming unnecessarily. I like thinking about the internet as an actual person whose brain has filled with more information and content and memories. You can still find parts of its aesthetic beginnings intact and unchanged, ex: Craigslist, and some hidden gems.”
Q: I love the video you made to accompany your collection. I thought that was such a creative way to go about featuring your work. How did the idea for the Summer Camp S/S ’13 video come to pass?
Thanks! While designing the Summer Camp Collection I must have listened to the song featured in the video (Jungle Beat by Harold and Bob) at least 100 times. Eventually the necklaces started literally dancing in my head to the beat of Jungle Beat, which is technically how the idea for the video began. My amazing boyfriend Justin Seibert made these ideas a reality with all of the animation featured in the video. While location-scouting we found this actual camp tucked away in the hills of Griffith Park right in the center of LA. The camp was abandoned at the time, which was really serendipitous because it definitely helped add to the eerie, yet playful and psychedelic nature of the video.
Q: Now, this is just a personal interest question. But I started a website called The Do Not Enter Diaries devoted to filming to stories of teenagers and their bedrooms, and I would love to know what you were like as a teenager. What was your bedroom like?
A: “Being a relatively reclusive and contemplative teenager I spent most of my time in my room, so that space definitely meant a lot to me. My walls were painted a super bright combination of salmon pink and neon lime green, and every surface was covered with my treasures and nicknacks. MySpace, homework, drawing things realistically, an AIM addiction, and my CD collection are the things I remember.”
"Craft class BLAST" necklace
Q: I really love the philosophy of Otherwild. How did you first get involved with them?
A: “It's been so great working with Otherwild and I am so happy to have my pieces at their shop. I came across the store soon after it opened last summer in LA. I then met with the founders Marisa Suarez-Orozco and Rachel Berks who immediately expressed interest in the Summer Camp pieces. I recently teamed up with Otherwild in a video series they produced which focuses on the studio practice of various artists whose work is sold at Otherwild. The series gives a perfect depiction of the shop and it's incredible philosophy!”
"Totally Teamwork" necklace
Q: Do you have any other creative projects in the works?
A: “Along with designing my F/W 2013 jewelry collection, I’m also in the midst of putting my ASCII CATZ t-shirts into production. I’m working with the artist Ryan McIntosh of Art is Shit Editions for the screen printing, the photographer Marina Fini for the collection shoot, and the artist/graphic designer Nicole Killian with the lookbooks and promotional materials. It’s great to be collaborating with amazing artists who I feel very connected to in terms of their work and ideas. The shirts should be available by late winter/early spring in three different color schemes which I am super excited about! A variation of the ASCII CATZ print, along with several other prints will also be specially released in February as tapestry wall hangings at Urban Outfitters. I am also designing some knitted wall hangings for the web-shop Beklina. It’s really exciting to be working on such a wide variety of projects. I knew when I launched my jewelry collection this past Fall that I didn’t want to confine myself to jewelry making, but I didn’t think the transition would happen so quickly.”
Q: Anything else you want to add?
A: “You can stay tuned with the launch all of my upcoming projects by connecting with my Facebook Page, Twitter, and Tumblr!”
Shop Kayla Mattes' Summer Camp S/S 2013 collection and see more of her work here.
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