‘Tales of Mystery and Imagination’ began as a project focusing on digital print. I am passionate about illustration, particularly quirky children’s books with dark undertones; I love Maurice Sendak, Jan Pienkowski, Quentin Blake, Arthur Rackham, Oliver Jeffers and Dave McKean. Inspired by Rackham’s illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Tales of Mystery and Imagination’, I set myself the task of doing contemporary illustrations for six of Poe’s stories. I worked in oils and then used the paintings as starting points for the prints.
The reason I chose to do hand-painted illustrations in oils to then scan and translate into print ideas was firstly because I love painting, but also because I liked the idea of combining a hand-crafted skill with the amazing digital fabric printing technology. I didn’t want this fantastic advance in textiles technology to mean that something wasn’t impressive unless it was completely digital. I felt that it would be easier for me to convey the emotions that I wanted to convey in a painting than a Photoshop design, and I felt inspired by the idea of enlarging and cropping illustration so that the print was a mixture of subtle colours and abstract brush strokes. I also knew that a colour scheme would come more naturally to me whilst painting.
In terms of shapes and styles of the garments, I felt they needed to be kept relatively simple in order to not look over-done and overly theatrical, yet I still wanted to maintain a strong, distinguished silhouette. Poe was a well-known dandy so I decided on a slim and sleek dandy-inspired silhouette consisting of extremely narrow, sharp trousers, fitted single-breasted jackets, waistcoats, pea-coats and macs, paired with slim dress-shirts in crisp cotton with wing collars and statement yokes. To accommodate for the lifestyles of the modern day dandy I included some jersey t-shirts. Fabric choices included light, fine wools and cotton drills for the jackets, trousers and waistcoats, coated, waterproof cottons for the macs and coats, crisp cottons with translucent organzas and silks for the shirts, and ultra-fine, soft cotton jersey for the t-shirts.