Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Discover This: Handustry

Three words sum up today's Discover This featured artist and shop: Wow. Love. Want. The artist is Michel Belisle of Montreal and the shop is Handustry on Etsy. Michel gives such a soulful interview that I'm just going to get on with it. I hope you are just as inspired after reading as I was. Please be sure to visit Michel's Etsy shop when you're done. I'm telling you, you'll be wowed.

Name: Michel Belisle
Location: Montreal, Canada
Description of work: creating handmade objects at the crossroads of fashion, art, and crafts

How long have you been creating? I started about 30 years ago. Back then I studied fashion design and started a business. But life took me in different directions since. About two years ago I started contemplating what I could do when I retire to prevent boredom. It suddenly struck me that I could make good use of my creative self, making things and selling them online. My online adventure started last year. It is still pretty timid but I am slowly putting more and more energy into it. I find it quite rewarding receiving compliments about the work I do. It is a renewed sense of purpose also to create items when I know my followers will appreciate, as they are always wondering what will I come up with next!

Metallic Silver Pencil Pouch
 How did you get started? When I was young I was fascinated by the New Wave fashion movement, but had no money to buy any of the wonderful futuristic garments available. So I thought, well, maybe I can make those? After a few trials and errors I decided it was something I could do for a living and went to fashion school. And there I discovered something extraordinary: the knitting machine. That thing is amazing and can do wonders. Through knitting I developed a passion for fibres. Knitting is giving me the ability to create shapes, patterns and fabrics. I feel totally free when I use this medium. I started exploring crochet techniques and leather last year. I am working on various projects and experiments in order to blend all those materials and techniques together, trying to find my own niche.

Where do you find inspiration? Partly from avant-garde fashion designers like Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, Issey Miyake and Walter van Beirendonck, and especially from contemporary architecture. Space, volume, perspective, unusual use of materials play a key role in triggering my creativity. I spend a huge amount of time experimenting with fibres, fabrics and, recently, leather. I want my designs to reflect structural properties even though they are made of soft and fluid materials. I also like my creations to have a purpose. I understand, though, that my current offerings do not exactly reflect my abstract creative process but it is also a characteristic of my process to be progressive. I am taking my followers with me on the path to discovery.

Where can we find your items for sale? I currently only sell online. I have two shops, both with the same name, one is www.etsy.com/shop/handustry, the well known handmade and vintage online venue, and the other one is www.cargoh.com/store/handustry. This one is a Canadian curated online marketplace and is where I offer my more experimental creations.

Buffalo Hide and Hemp Experimental Necklace
Formally trained or self-taught? As I said above, I have a background in fashion design but I mostly consider myself as a self-taught artist as I am going in directions and doing experimentations that are closer to fibre art than strictly creating fashionable items. I must thank my tailoring and machine knitting teachers for giving me strong technical backgrounds onto which I can build confidently my own creative language.

Why would someone benefit from purchasing your designs. When someone buys one of my creations, I want that person to make it totally his or hers. I want people to experiment as much with it as possible even find it a different purpose. It would very much please me to find out that my creations are used as catalysts by others in their own creative efforts. It would create a kind of intangible communication, a propagation of creativity and a tool to achieve self-actualization.

Anything else you’d like to share? I’ll take this opportunity to tell everyone who would like to embark on a creative adventure that anyone can. Simply start a project and do it. Even if the result may discourage you. Continue, go on, do another one until you build confidence in your ability and develop your own style. It is almost always possible to reuse a disappointing result and make it into something totally unexpected. Most of my successful realizations come from unsuccessful experiments. Don’t compare yourself with others and create according to what you feel is right.

Wristlet-Leather Pouch
 Soft Grey With Distressed Blue Jeans and Tiger Print Effect
Special thanks to Michel for participating.  Keep up the great work!

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I'm a new follower from the Promotions Team on Etsy! This was a great blog post. I really liked her comments about not giving up.