AN INTERVIEW WITH IRIS VAN WEES
"Firstly, could you introduce yourself as an artist?"
I grew up surrounded by the graphical work of my father and the powerful mental focus of my mother. They let my creative process run wild, whilst also developing a strong responsibility towards others and myself. With the digital programmes my father used at the time, I was already drawing and playing with Photoshop and Illustrator, using my ‘digital pen’ that fascinated me a lot. During high school I was a complete nerd, studying all day long and dreaming about going to university, keeping my creative activities as a hobby.
After taking my gap year and ‘finding myself in Australia’, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to embrace my creative talent and I applied at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI). In the last two years of this study, I got introduced by the possibilities of 3D virtual fashion design and everything that ever fascinated me fell into place. Ever since, I started working as a virtual creator and graduated with an interactive fashion collection, mixing the physical and the digital world. Skills in a nutshell: Graphic design, digital construction, face-filters creator, GIF making, Augmented Reality interaction, Animation Rendering, 3D virtual fashion design.
"'Digital fashion' is quite a groundbreaking concept, could you tell us more about it and about how you create your work? What made you go into digital fashion?"
Digital fashion is something big to explore and to explain, especially because there are endless possibilities. In short, it’s possible to create a fully functional piece of clothing just using your computer. ‘Functional’ meaning that the clothes are constructed the exact same way as it would in the physical world, acting with the same values of gravity and so on. You draw your pattern pieces in a 2D work area, and digitally ‘stitch’ them together in your 3D environment where you also have a 3D avatar to dress. This way you can make endless experiments and designs, without wasting any physical materials. At the end of this process you can either print out the 2D patterns and make a physical translation, or you keep all the designs digital.
During my graduation project, I wanted to explore different ways of using these digital programmes, because I didn’t feel comfortable anymore wasting materials for every design I had in mind. I chose to step away from my original way of working, towards a 100% digital process and made a final physical translation with the use of waste banners and flags, in collaboration with festivals and events. With the use of Augmented Reality I created an interactive app, that also made it possible to keep some of the designs completely digital but still interactive. This way, the design isn’t just a rendered photo/video, but reacts to your physical body and movements.
Last but not least, it offers an alternative workflow against the current fashion industry with a more sustainable and conscious result. It also stimulates me as an intuitive but responsible designer, with a love for RGB colours.
"You mention on your website that your goal is to extend our physical life with digital creations. Could you elaborate on this? "
I don’t want to lose touch with our physical being. We have to appreciate our physical world, and our own physical bodies. But we can use the fascinating digital creations to make our life more fun and interesting. The daily life fascinates me, where most of us end up wearing ‘practical and comfortable’ clothing. What if you can wear a huge digital dress, that doesn’t get stuck in your bike because it’s not physical interfering with your daily activities.
"Could you say that you are preparing for a ‘post-human age’, so to say? Where is the future of fashion headed do you think? "
I believe in the combination of different innovations, not only the digital one. As I mentioned, the physical world stays very important to me and I see a bright future in front of us with a powerful nature that is empowered by digital extensions. The physical production of clothing will become as minimal as possible, only the most practical pieces will survive. But the creative identity will take place on a digital level.
"Would you say you are influenced at all by fashion photography? And would you describe your work as a form of photography?"
Fashion photography gave me a lot of inspiration during my studies, especially the futuristic Fashion editorials of Pierre Cardin in the sixties are amazing. Being a digital artist, you have the possibility to create a full digital set and make a digital photoshoot. But I wouldn’t want to describe my work as a form of photography, because this is a craft of its own with a lot of extra knowledge about lighting etc. I’m learning more and more about it, because working within the digital field, everything comes together and you learn so many different new skills. You kind of become this fluid all-round creator.
"What are your thoughts on the future of photography? Do you reckon all photography will one day be separate from its reality, just as your work proposes now?"
I see a fascinating mix of reality and everything that isn’t for the future of photography.
"Thank you ever so much for this fascinating interview! We're looking forward to the future..."