WONDER WOMAN GARMENT STORIES // Kat Bak Creative Boogie
2017 marks the 3 year anniversary of running our blog Yes! Journal. A huge part of our creative output, one of the most rewarding aspects of running the blog has been the opportunity to meet so many creative women through our 'Wonder Women' series. Many of our customers and members of our radical community have also related how much they enjoy reading these interviews and being inspired by the many and varied approaches to the creative life these stories have presented.
In 2017 we wanted to explore the concept in new ways. In her novel 'Orlando', Virginia Woolf asserts that “there is much to support the view that it is the clothes that wear us, and not we, them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.” And so we wondered about this. About how our clothing choices say so much about many of our other choices and preferences. And about how potent these decisions can be for creative women.
With that in mind, Wonder Women / Garment Stories is a project we conceived to delve more deeply into the way our customers dress and the way our shoes, as objects, are interpreted and re-imagined. Almost anthropological in our approach, this series is dedicated to the idea of unearthing the intimate nature of the relationship many creative women have with their clothes and the way they dress. It is about considering the symbolic power of our clothes as visual indicators for how we feel about the world and our place in it.
In many ways it is profound that we can begin this project with artist and illustrator Kat Bak Creative Boogie whose personal drawing practice is delving deeply into the female form. A Graphic Designer by day, Kat began experimenting with life drawing as a way to manage the transition into true 'adulthood' including all the heartbreak and challenges that come with it.
Kat is authentic, humble and full of gratitude for her practice - all sentiments that are present in her work. In conversation she explained to me that she wanted to work directly with the inherent beauty of the female form, in all it's truthful voluptuousness. She found through her drawing practice she had come closer to terms with her own form and found herself now celebrating all the shapes of womens bodies. And has even become brave enough to start working as a life drawing model herself. To that end we can undoubtedly say that Kat Bak is a wonder woman. And these are her garment stories.
Intro and interview by Kerryn Moscicki, Images by Holly Graham, Art Direction by Siy Studio
Kat, your personal work is currently focused in life drawing including some very beautiful line work of the female form. There is a gentleness in every piece, and also a sense of absolute conviction in what you are making. Tell us about how you have arrived in this space in your practice.
Oh wow, thank you! I am so grateful to be involved in this radical project! This work is a result of an undercurrent that has been running through my veins for many years. I feel as though I have always been carrying this work and I just went on a long journey of the self to uncover it. The best bit is, I know that so much of the journey is still unraveling. This work has formed with years of learning and listening; from practices that I have studied, people I have met and through the influence of the great artists I have admired my whole life.
A few months ago I made the commitment to dedicate more time to my practice. Gradually, I began drawing as part of my daily morning ritual. In this space, I wake up early and dance a lil’ into my right side of the brain. It's important I allow myself to be creative before I start my day. I feel much more mellow when I make time for this.
Through these pieces, I hope to encourage the benefits of creativity and promote body positivity. I use the hashtag #yourbodyyourlandscapeyourstory as I believe we are all made up of incredible stories and every line, bump and blemish forms a landscape that is uniquely our own. Not only what we are made up of genetically but where you have been and where you are going. It’s a nice little reminder that you are pretty phenomenal! I came to this conclusion after discovering a new chapter of my own self.
We love the irony that you are currently very immersed in drawing nudes, and yet we are delving into your wardrobe to see how your clothing impacts on your creativity. Are there any garments you especially like to work in? Why do you think they are your favourites?
Ha! I am all for empowerment, whether that be through embracing your body’s landscape or how you express yourself through what you wear. I feel like I have a split persona and this is particularly evident in my wardrobe.
When I’m creating art, I find myself to be in a feminine space; often wearing silk. However on the flip side when I am doing graphic design work, I’m much more rusty. Usually, listening to heavy psych tunes while dagging around in a band t-shirt. In both scenarios, however, I am in my undies!
What is your earliest garment memory?
Oh, it’s a toss up between my white Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt (which I just found again in mum's garage!) or my red and white striped ALF tee. I also remember wearing a pale pink wide brim hat to Expo ’88 that had ‘Australia’ printed on the front – very cool! I was probably pantless back then too!
What sort of colours, textures and fabrics do you find yourself repeatedly drawn to in your wardrobe? How has this changed over the years?
SILK! As I have matured I've become silk crazy. I just love the feeling of it on my skin. I have this beautiful memory of being on the beach under a full moon, with a very handsome man and the feeling of my blouse blowing softly against my chest, it felt quite beautiful to be a woman. Silk definitely speaks to my divine feminine!
Also, having a background in clothing and textile production (not to mention being of Eastern European decent) the importance of good quality and durability has been embedded into me...wool, leather, linen. I am constantly hunting op-shops and markets for second-hand treasures and pieces that will last.
Forest green is my queen and I do always feel empowered in all black. I live by the saying “Women who wear black live colourful lives”. Although, I do love a gold statement piece and have a lot of garments inspired by California in the late 70’s!
Do you ever find that certain garments can make you feel more creative? Do you have a favored piece? Tell us the story behind it / why it’s your favorite?
One of my favourite pieces is definitely my “The Ultimate Experience” sweater.
A couple of years ago, I packed up my life as I knew it and moved interstate to study. One Saturday, on my weekly vintage clothing hunt, I noticed a Big Issue vendor holding up a sign saying “Free Tarot”. I thought “why not, someone to talk to…". He was a very cool older English fellow, very James Dean, wearing a white tee, blue Levis, and Wayfarers... his face already told a story. Naturally, I am drawn to people who look like they’ve been on the road their whole lives. Long story short, he laid out my cards and the very first thing he said was “you are searching for the ultimate experience". Oh boy, was he was right! His reading brought me to tears.
Right after we finished the reading, I went back into a vintage shop that I had been in only and hour earlier and this time noticed hanging on a rack, tucked behind the counter, a red sleeve poking out. I asked the shop assistant to show it to me and when she pulled it out it has those exact words on it. I threw her my money, ran back out to my Tarot mate with the biggest grin and yelled "I found the Ultimate experience!” I couldn’t believe it! As a bonus, it’s also bright red and as Marina Abromovich says, "wear red to give you power"!
I also can't go without a special mention my long black and green silk dressing gown, which I purchased for $8 at the Elwood market. It’s old, tattered and holey but I feel like the crazy old lady from Great Expectations when I wear it. Then of course, there's my dad’s super worn Alpha Romeo t-shirt; which I finally found (also in mum's garage) after searching for it for over 10 years. I feel his soul in that one.
Describe your morning process when getting dressed for the day. How do you make your daily garment choices?
I have this saying “always dress like you are the party”! As I have become older, I am definitely more confident in the way I dress. I aim to be comfortable and interesting so there’s always a little piece of something that resembles my mood or personality. Whether it be a ring (or 7) or a touch of western / rock n’ roll.
I made the choice about a year ago to throw out anything that didn’t contribute to me feeling good about myself. I invested in pieces that made me feel self-love - right down to my underwear/sleepwear. I never quite got the undergarment thing until now. I am discovering more and more how brilliant it is to be a woman. It rules! I think if you feel good about yourself regardless of what you are wearing you’ll naturally be the most vibrant colour in the room.
As part of this project we have been thinking a lot about the idea of how our mood can influence our daily dress choices. For instance on days when the energy is low and you just want to cover up and ‘hide’ under oversized garments and hats. Patti Smith talks about this idea a little in her book M Train where she refers to an oversized and intentionally ‘ratted’ Yohji Yamamoto coat that she eventually loses and for sometime she herself feels lost because it was as if the coat, which was part of her daily writing and coffee ritual, where an extension of her form.
Can you tell us more about the garments that have this kind of comfort for you? Garments that you go to when you need to self-care and protect?
My faded black leather jacket, which I’ve owned for the past 6 years, there’s a lot life’s character marks in that jacket, it’s my trusty compadre. It’s been there when I’m cold, when I feel like a dag, when I’ve fallen off my bike, when I need a confident boost and bit of extra strength. It carries part of my history with it.
With the focus on ethical and sustainable dressing becoming a more important consideration to the fashion industry there has been more conversation recently around the idea of creating a daily uniform that would help to reduce the number of items you need to buy each season. What is your reaction to this? If you had to choose a uniform what items would you select?
If we had to have a uniform, I would definitely say overalls. When I purchased my first pair as an adult I thought “Oh my, I am never wearing anything else”. That or gold leotards for everyone!
Tell us 3 things you always say yes to.
Coffee with my beautiful and supportive mates
Anything that allows me to be inspired, learn, embrace my fears & push my comfort levels!
I LOVE the quote by Hunter S. Thompson "Faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death." Yeah baby !!!