In the first session of constellation I was told what would be happening throughout the course of 8 weeks in my constellation studies, I also began looking at the term ‘subcultures’ and was introduced to the subculture: Hipsters. Through this session I began to learn the skill of reading into deeper meanings in aesthetics.
Initially, I was quite nervous about my chosen subject ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ as I had only general knowledge about fashion, although I chose this subject in particular to improve my grasp of fashion and to base my essay on as I believed it would be interesting and insightful into deeper meanings through design, which could then be reflected into my work as an illustration student.
What I found most intriguing in the learning process of subcultures and styles is how much illustration worked hand in hand with fashion. This is because illustration is all about creating pieces with deeper meanings, and not all pieces have to be aesthetically pleasing, as the main purpose of illustrations are to display a message through an image, if this is achieved in a creation then it will be a successful illustration, this also goes for fashion as more and more startling designs are being created in today’s industries.
It was also a good experience to work in a more intellectual format, as fashion has also been an important component in eras of history, which in turn has led me to gain information about not just fashion but about history simultaneously.
I have also gained more understanding in how to locate sufficient research to support claims I make in analogies of different styles. To explain in more detail, I now recognise how to locate a source of information (book, article or website) with information that will help me when conducting research into a certain subject promptly, and I also know how to efficiently analyse an image. I have been taught by my lecturer to use a column system, which consists of 3 columns; components, analyse meaning and theory. In this I’ll describe an item of character that I notice in the image, analyse what that particular item could mean, and then go on to use a quote or image to support my claim from my research that I conducted before carrying out the analysis.
I found studying the many different subcultures captivating as I did not initially realise how much fashion had in the impact of rebellions and the development in equality amongst the population.
For example, the fact that the Zoot Suit was created to display that those who were commonly discriminated against at the time (African-Americans and Hispanic Americans) exist and deserve to be heard was fascinating as they did this by breaking the rules of rationing at the time of World War Two, and by wearing vibrant colours. It shows true form of rebellion and determination to make a difference in the world.
After looking at multiple subcultures in my lectures (Hipsters, Goths, Hip-Hop, Punk, Steampunk and Harajuku) I found the the subcultures I found most interesting and ones I would be confident enough to base my essay on were the Punk subculture and the Zoot Suit subculture. This is because I have always been engrossed by punk music so have grown up watching bands such as Green Day and Sex Pistols dressed in clothes from that particular subculture. Also, I chose the Zoot Suit subculture as I found the way of rebellion to be particularly striking and moving, also I found the modifications made to the traditional suit to create the re signification of the ‘formal’ suit into a loud protest. Thus bringing me to the title “STANDING UP TO SOCIETY WITH STYLE: PUNK VS THE ZOOT SUIT”.
Before beginning my essay I decided to do some practice analogies of images displaying the Punk and Zoot subcultures to ensure that I would be able to make good points and could spot any similarities/differences between the two.
Once I was content with the title I chose to look at and was certain I knew enough information about the subcultures to base my essay on them I found suitable books in the library that related to the chosen subcultures and individuals that talked about subculture as a whole; I then went on to find practical quotes that I would be able to use as references in my essay.
I decided to base my essay around equality as both Punk and Zoots fought for that, although Punk fought for gender equality and Zoots fought for racial equality.
As I decided to base the essay on equality I also searched for quotes which promoted gender equality/stereotypes within fashion and quotes which talked about the history of discrimination against races.
Overall I am pleased with the outcome of my essay as I managed to find relevant quotes, examples and comparisons, and managed to come to a fitting conclusion.
I believe I will be able to take a lot of what I have learned and apply them to my studies of Illustration, which will in turn hopefully support my skills in my practice.
For example I am now able to analyse images more efficiently and find more analogies due to the new system I have learnt. Also learning about issues that existed/still exist in the world has allowed me to see how people have combated those issues using deep meaning, which is quite inspirational and motivating.
I’ve also learnt a lot about outfits in general, which could be useful when it comes to possible character design which is commonly asked for in illustration. For example, I’ve learnt about what subcultures were happening at certain areas of history, therefore if I was asked to create a character from the 80’s I would know that the Punk subculture was alive and could design my character with various items of clothing/accessories from the Punk era.
To conclude, this project has been very advantageous as I have gained more knowledge relative to my course as I am now able to interpret deeper meanings hidden within an image more efficiently, and I am also more aware of fashion choices/ historical events which I can bring into possible illustrations in the future. I also found it useful to be able to do a project which was more intellectual, as it has also helped me improve my problem solving, writing, researching and presentation skills, thus preparing me fpr working under professional circumstances.