WOMEN OF NOTE:
Shakirra Rees | Mixed Media Artist
Creativity manifests in every one of us differently. For Shakirra Rees, it forms and is expressed in more ways than one. The young Melbourne-based artist applies both her hands and intention to live consciously across her multidimensional practice that embraces drawing, embroidery, photography and video. Shakirra’s original approach to mixed media is perhaps what makes her work so unique, leading a number of like-minded brands to collaborate with her — including Deiji Studios. Delicately applied paint and oil pastels adorn imagery of clothes both on and off of the body. Sentiments like ‘You are responsible for change’ and ‘Buy less, choose well, make it last’ are scrawled across her photographs and linger in your thoughts long after viewing. Thread is sewn into cotton canvas late into the night. Following a path guided by intuition and steered by a pure love to create, here Shakirra shares more about herself and her latest works for Deiji.
Date: 7/9/20 Time: 1:48pm
Where are you from and where are you now?
I am originally from the Central Coast, NSW which is an hour out of Sydney. I am currently living in Brunswick East, Melbourne.
Can you tell us a little about your home, what is the view like?
My home is my aesthetic dream, tall ceilings, white walls with lots of collected mid century items. The view from my bedroom windows are city buildings, which isn’t that great but, especially in the morning, The view from bed when the first morning light hits is so lovely.
Are you a morning or evening person?
I am definitely a morning person! There’s something different about the early morning sun which makes me feel motivated for the rest of the day. When it comes to evenings, all work ethic and motivation goes out the door, it's always time for relaxing when it gets dark. Unless I am hand embroidering in bed!
You’re a photographer, fashion illustrator and slow fashion advocate, what led you to fuse these creative pursuits together in your line of work?When I was younger, I originally wanted to be a photographer but was always drawing too. I guess studying textiles in high-school led me to fuse textiles/ illustration — I created these textile wall hangings of 3 portraits inspired by Del Kathryn Barton, which were then hand embroidered. Eventually I began to learn about small business, and slow fashion when I started my creative pursuits, and then at Uni studying a bachelor of fashion design, I studied fashion illustration (loved it!) and with the kind of creative assignments I had to do involved a lot of collage, and illustration. With photography, I feel as though I have always had a good eye, and I have kind of just fallen into shooting for conscious brands as I like to talk about this topic on my Instagram. Fusing these three things I love has just happened organically!
Fashion illustration is enjoying a welcomed renaissance on social media and in publications like Vogue Italia, when did you first begin drawing clothes?
I can remember having drawing competitions as a kid with my cousins, we printed fashion figures off google images and then had to trace and draw the best outfit, ranking out of 10 (laughs). Recently, I studied fashion illustration at college, and I loved it so much. I dream of having my illustration in something like Vogue Italia (I’m still trying to get my hands on that copy).
Your mixed media works bring together photography and illustration so beautifully. Can you describe what your creative process is like in making these pieces?
Thank you. If someone already has images for me to choose from, I basically like to choose the images that I love the most, with a lot of shape and textures for me to illustrate on. I then print these images off and kind of choose the colours I think would suit, and just draw freely, wherever I think the pen should hit the paper. Sometimes I have to print out a few because they don’t turn out right! I then like to scan it into my computer, and I may do some tweaking on Photoshop.
What inspired the artworks that you have made for us at Deiji Studios?
Deiji is such a timeless label. The organic flow of the robes, and the texture of the linen inspired me most. With the fashion illustrations they are quite loose and imperfect, and I think this reflects Deiji designs so well, as linen almost looks imperfect all the time due to its ability to crease easily. I just wanted to create a Deiji mood basically, very minimal and soft. I played a lot with the texture on some of the mixed media works, like re-using the Deiji packaging and manipulating the paper.
Collaborating with like-minded brands is obviously really important to you, do you think that analogue approaches to creativity help spur new conversations about sustainability?
Yes! I like to think it spurs new conversations about sustainability, or even sparks something in someone’s mind about how important it is to shop consciously. I am extremely fuelled by those who have reached out to me, being thankful for my influence and creativity that has inspired them to think and be able to be stylish whilst wearing second-hand, or to save money for that really well-made product.
Many would be envious of your ever-growing collection of second-hand clothes and furniture. What is your approach to sourcing unlikely treasures? Do you have any rules?
I am just constantly checking Facebook Marketplace, Depop, and op shops (when they’re open). Some tips I would say for scanning the net for cool furniture is to not always type in works like “mid-century”. Some people aren’t aware that the furniture they are selling could be sold for more, or they don’t exactly know the key words to put in. So always go for different words when describing what you’re looking for on Facebook Marketplace. For second-hand clothing, I am always scanning the pants section and the men’s shirt/jacket section. You can’t go wrong, and you are bound to find a timeless button up.
What is your favourite second-hand find to date?
Hard question! This is boring, but my black pants I found from Savers. They are so flattering and fit me perfectly. If I had to choose one more item it would probably be my black knee high boots!
Currently you’re in lockdown in Melbourne, how have you been coping? What have you been up to?
Yes currently in Melbourne. I have been better. A few months ago was really hard but it’s getting better. I just feel sad at thinking about my future. I have been trying to keep busy with daily workouts, candle lit dinners with my housemates, sitting in the sun, hand embroidery, and some photo/illustration work.
Having only recently moved, what do you love most about your new home?
What I love most is how it can be turned into a creative space for my housemates and I to collaborate, or to work with other like-minded people in the space as it’s so aesthetically pleasing! We were planning on having a little art show once the world opens up.
Have there been any recipes you’ve been returning to of late? If so, would you like to share one with us?
Vegan Pesto pasta is one of my go-to’s. Full of protein and healthy plants.
2 cups packed fresh basil
3 Tbsp pine nuts
3 large cloves garlic (peeled)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3-4 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tbsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil*
3-6 tbsp water (plus more as needed)
- Blitz all of those ingredients together.
- Cook some red lentil pasta, or buckwheat pasta.
- When finished cooking, mix in some fresh spinach, and cherry tomatoes and anything else you would like to add.
How do you stay grounded?
Having a nice routine keeps me grounded, doing the nice little things most days that make me feel safe and at home.
What do you do to unwind?
Lounge in the sun, take a bath, clean the whole house and dance around!
Has there been a significant moment of your past that has informed where you are today?
Yes there have been many little moments that have led me to where I am today, they are mostly sad moments of my life but they have navigated me to take risks, and grow as a person. I am very proud of myself for the way I have handled things until this moment right now.
What do you dream of while you sleep?
I dream of swimming in the ocean. Sometimes it's good, but other times I am swimming and can't get out.
Interviewed by Chloe Borich for Deiji Studio’s Field Notes