This artist was suggested to me, and her style is so eclectic I figured I would give her a full blown interview! Meet Avantegarb... maker of recycled, upcycled and unique garb! The only way I can describe her style is crazy color! Now a bit from the maker herself!
My birth name is Christine Wright and I have as many sobriquets as I do clothes in my closet.....including Sissy, Teeny, Xteen, Chris, Ludi-Chris, Whamie and Steen. I was born thinking about what I might don to exit those sterile hospital halls in Albion Michigan, and since then fashion has constantly been on my mind. I change my clothes to follow my moods and social engagements......those often change 3-4 times a day.
I live in New Orleans now, having migrated here for the essence that this city imbues....ever the quirky fashion devotee, it fits my style to a tee. Odd and whimsical, fun loving and colorful, I fit right in; finally a home that embraces my difference that seemed so poignant growing up in the conservative Mid-West.
I have worn many hats, from baker to waitress, deli food creator to cake decorator, bar tenderess to cateress, Aerobics instructor to online sales....now I make them, hats and other funky togs, that is, and I adore creating for the myriad of other kindred souls out there who appreciate unique and fun garb.
I have never married or had children....my dog "Beans"(my pet name for her, actually it is Sabine) is my baby and closest friend. I have 2 sisters and a brother and we all adore each other greatly, for which I am very thankful. My favorite color (right now) is orange, my favorite drink is beer, my favorite food is alligator/shrimp cheesecake from a restaurant around the corner. My favorite book is Be Here Now, by Ram Dass. I don't watch TV(except at my sister's house where I can't get my eyes off that subliminally encoded box). I love owls and have a collection of over 60. I abhor people who talk and never listen. I dig gardening and checking out weird bugs and lizards. My favorite place on this earth is the shores of Lake Superior in the UP of Michigan.
How did you find Etsy? How long have you been selling on Etsy?
I found Etsy after moving to New Orleans, just sorta came up in conversation and I thought I would give it a go-go. I have been selling on Etsy, with some success, since May of 2007.
Is that you modeling your items?
Why yes, I do model my own clothes, once in a while I employ my niece to help, she likes clothes as much as I do, so she is happy to "play" with me as my muse.....and for things that do not fit me a mannequin named Belinda. For myself I use the timer on my camera cuz I really get all "clogged" up if someone is behind the lens. I love the things I make so putting them on to show them off is almost as good as creating them.
How would you describe your style? What do you think makes you so unique?
I would have to describe my style as fully conscious inner child faux-ture....I use predominately all recycled and vintage materials so almost everything I make is one of a kind. I tend to make clothes that you love to live in, simple, easy fitting, easy to care for AND fun to wear, like the stuff you never even considered that your Mom put you in as a wee little nipper.....sans the diapers. But, I think what makes my designs most unique is the colors and textures I incorporate into them, I love to put odd color combos together with different textures and patterns. When someone buys a piece from me, what they are getting is something that no one else will ever have, to me that is important and I think the folks who like my stuff agree.
How long have you been creating?
I have been creating since I was pretty young. Halloween costumes at first and then in college, when money was tight and thrift store shopping was how I afforded a "decent" wardrobe......trouble with thrift stores is you can't always find the perfect thing in your size, so I taught myself how to fix that problem. I didn't sell my clothes for years, only supplying my cravings for myself and close friends and family. When I moved back after Katrina I started doing some markets and festivals and found many people loved what I created...then came Etsy and some retail stores that carried my stuff.....I have been doing it ever since as my predominate income....not getting rich, but certainly paying the bills.
Have you had any mentors, or are you self taught?
I am pretty much a self taught designer. I mean I learned to basic skills of sewing in 4-H when I was 10, but since then I have honed what I do through trial and error. I certainly used to "mess up" many projects I started, but now I can fix and redo almost anything....I amaze myself sometimes, considering where I started and that I have had no other training or schooling. I am blessed with a weird sense of style that so many people appreciate.
What is your favorite item you have created?
Oh by-golly, how to pick one thang that I have created that I most like....there have been so many(one for every mood I have ever had)....costume or every day wear?...it is so tough....I guess I will have to say this fabulous patchwork hoodie dress. It was made completely of 50's to 70's vintage cottons in uber funky patterns and every color of the rainbow, 3 tiers ending is a huge sweep of a skirt with big bell sleeves and appliques on the shoulders. The hoodie has a real fur collar I got from a salvaged coat at a thrift store. I feel like an ice princess in it, but can hardly ever wear it here in New Orleans since it is so hot most of the time(today October 8th, it was 90+ degrees with humidity in the 90 percent range....ARGHHHH!)
What is the best reaction you have gotten from one of your pieces?
Living in this town where tourism is an every day event, I have received many reactions to my garb....from blatant astonishment to giggles and every where in between, but with every reaction an inner smile that was tweaked.....that is just so groovy to me AND one of the reasons I do what I do....I love piquing curiosities and getting, on some level, into peoples inner child. Being different than the masses has ALWAYS been important to me, I think we all need to stand out in this world. How mundane it would be if we all dressed the same, believed the same things, talked the same, etc ad infinitude. Our uniqueness should shine always, and what I do, even if it is just a slight push, helps people along to being just who they are, on the outside for everyone to see.....from there, well, they's on their own.
So there you have it! Some great and crazy clothing from Avantegarb. I think this has to be the longest interview so far and I hope you all out there in cyber-land enjoyed the look into Avantegarbs inner workings!