Brand Focus | Gravel & Gold

Brand Focus | Gravel & Gold
Brand Focus | Gravel & Gold

Brand Focus | Gravel & Gold

Coming from such different walks of life, can you tell us how you all found each other and what prompted you to start the shop / label? We do all have varied backgrounds, but we found each other in pretty typical ways. Some of us met in university, some at parties, and we'™ve connected with one and other via common friendships and mutual admiration. What binds us is that we share the notion that work, life, friends, family, and art should all be integrated. The shop began as a space that to combine these elements for ourselves and then reach the community beyond our immediate social sphere. The shop was started during a vibrant time in arts and business in San Francisco, so the space became an exciting venue for creative folks to share art, music, craft, information and food. We started the clothing line a few years after the shop opened. We all have artistic inclinations and share a fascination with northern European textile design from the 1960's and 1970's, particularly the work of designers like Josef Frank, Vuokko Nurmesniemi and Katsuji Wakisaka. We were inspired to emulate some of the aesthetic dynamism and optimism from that era. We keep in mind that textile work has always been a collaborative and/or communal endeavour, particularly in pre-industrial cultures. In our early efforts we made a point to carry on this tradition; Our first collection was printed by hand in San Francisco and sewn entirely by us and our friends in a converted barn at the Gospel Flats Farm in Bolinas, California. What were your original intentions for Gravel & Gold? Have those intentions changed since? Over the 8 years that Gravel & Gold has existed our intentions haven't really changed. We still believe in all the things that we started out with. The original intention was to have a place to show and sell the work of our peer artists and products that we believe in; objects and expressions that bring joy through use and experience. What has developed over time is more space for our own creative practices, particularly, designing prints and clothing. Why was creating a community such an important part of the label for you? Creating community was and continues to be a driving force behind Gravel & Gold. We've all had an almost academic level of interest in California's history of experimental and intentional living communities and were interested in finding ways to bring some of those values to our urban environment. It's easy to get disconnected in the city and we like to try and play the role of the common space for artists and peers coming, staying or going. We also all desire a dynamic work and life style and being able to look to our community for collaboration allows us some freedom to experiment and take on new things that we might not be experts at with the support of our more skilled network. How do you find the artists you work with? What makes you decide to work with a particular artist? The artists we work with are very often friends, or people whose work we've admired for a long time. We've connected with many artists who have walked into the shop and also through the blogosphere and through Instagram. We love to work with a range of artists and crafts people such as ceramicists, jewellers, weavers, painters, graphic artists, and musicians. There is a very vibrant creative community of artists and makers on the West Coast of the United States. Events like West Coast Craft in San Francisco and the Echo Park Craft Fair in Los Angeles play a crucial role binding and supporting this dynamic and growing network. We decide to work with someone because they have a unique vision and a commitment to their creative process. Many of the artists we've worked with have a lightness about their work and an experimental approach that radiates the joyful quality which we value. Can you tell us a bit about how the boob™ print series came about? Were you surprised by its success? The Boobs print was designed by Cassie McGettigan, one of the founders of G&G. The print came about from wanting celebrate woman's bodies. We'™re always thinking about woman, we are often bathing or sun-tanning, and one of the founders of Gravel & Gold is a home birth mid-wife, so it was inevitable that boobs would be show up in our work in a fun and prevalent way! We are surprised at its success and are happy to see how impactful and inspiring it has been. We love the shocked and delighted responses and are thrilled by the conversations that the print initiates. These boobs have infinite connotations, and the print brings up a range of topics: political (such as the attacks on planned parenthood and woman's rights globally), breastfeeding and birth, breast cancer, and the histories and complexities of the female form in art and popular culture. These are all issues we have strong thoughts on, so we'™re really happy that our work helps keep these conversations going, with a little fun and beauty thrown in to boot. What artists and makers inspire you? This is a tough question! So many artists and makers inspire us! Some individual makers and artists that we love are Rebecca Miles, Sarah Kersten, Rachel Blodgett at Serpent & Bow, Rachel Budde at Fat and the Moon, Annie Costello Brown, Daren Wilson, Terri Loewenthal, Osborn and Woods, and the gals at Shepherdess Hides. These makers are all really focused and dedicated to their crafts and we're so lucky to be able to support them, collaborate and watch their work develop over the years. We are also deeply inspired by creative institutions that join design, art, and community. Companies like Marimekko, the Fabric Workshop, Design Research, Kiosk, Postalco and Esprit are some big ones that have had a strong impact on us, and how we go about developing our business. Can you walk us through the process of creating a garment / product? Where do you begin? The fabric prints are the center of our design process. The surface designs allow us to embed a message or an idea into our fabric, so we start with a brainstorm to identify what sorts of things are on our minds. The Water Cycle print that we designed for Spring/Summer 2016 came about because for the last 4 years there has been a bad drought in California. We have been thinking about water conservation and the consequences of water shortages. The prints don't always have such a serious back-story, but there are often specific references to local geography, art/artists and/or music, that make our prints dynamic, beyond their expressive hand-drawn character and bright colours. Putting print design at the forefront of our creative process has also given us the opportunity to collaborate with artists that we adore and admire. In the past we'™ve worked with Rachel Kaye, Sarah Bright and Rainen Knecht and its been thrilling to offer a medium for their work that they hadn't used before. Since our process is print-centric, we try to make the clothing simple and wearable. Our clothing designs are not trend driven. They are made to suite the daily needs of a creative and active gal; ourselves and our customers. We bring these styles and prints back year after year as we don't believe that they are only useful for one season. We spend a lot of time developing each design and our clothing is well made so we expect it to serve for years if not decades. We are fortunate to have a rather bustling garment industry here in San Francisco, the legacy of brands like The Gap and Levis who got their start making things here. We are committed to producing locally so our designs are definitely influenced by the capabilities of our proximate factories. But we see this as less of a limitation and more of a design challenge. We really value the opportunity to patron such a historical and important industry in our city. It's kind of like shopping for dinner exclusively at the farmers market - we are happy to support our local economy and to know our producers.