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Artists in Art Garments ~ Leisa Wake

Meet the artist behind the Art Silk collection, Leisa Wake.
Dressed entirely in Art Garments, linked image credits follow the interview.

Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments

Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments

Tell me a bit about your 9 to 5

I make art and print it on fabric at Sydney-based company called Think Positive that manufactures digitally printed natural fabrics.

I yo-yo between the artroom and the factory, designing bespoke prints for fashion and furnishing labels and producing their orders on fabric. It’s a pretty unique position to be in as a textile designer as I get to see my prints jump off the screen and come to life daily on pretty exquisite fabrics.

I am lucky to call this my 9 to 5 as domestic textile production is a dying craft.
It's through Think Positive we have printed our scarves, keeping the entire production process onshore in Australia.
Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments  

Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments

Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments
Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments


And what was the road that led you to creating these pieces for Grace?

As a wearer of Art Garments and friend of Grace’s for the best part of the last decade, I’ve followed the evolution of her brand into the Art Garments you see today. Lovers of the shop will know that many of the singular vintage items Grace sources are like art pieces in themselves.


Grace came to me with a desire to introduce her own line of wearable art ~ art garments if you will. 


So we set out together to transform the humble silk scarf into a multi-functional square and runner that would encourage the art of dressing. We both share a love of collecting inanimate objects and setting tables (more on that to come in 2021!), so this became the perfect subject for the collection. 



Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments

Tell me about the inspiration behind these artworks
I’ve always had an affinity for still life masterpieces, mainly the art of arrangement that is behind setting a scene before it’s even captured in a canvas or photograph. The mise-en-scene is a creative process in itself that sparks joy in me. 
It might sound silly but I get captivated by the magic that can happen on a table top. I love tinkering with shapes, spacing, levels of depth and colour that all create such different outcomes. In these artworks I wanted to keep it simple and make each artwork hero something in my own take on a still life.
Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments


Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments


What is your design process like? 

A concept is important to anchor my decisions and weave a narrative throughout my work. I then gather physical subject matter to paint from, and trawl photos for colour inspiration. I usually can’t rest until I’ve experimented with lots of elements and compositions, and since indecisiveness is one of my greatest downfalls I can find my design process quite tormenting!

Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments


Sometimes I’m satisfied with the arrangement I’ve done by hand, or else I’ll digitally fiddle. Digitally printing my artworks allows me freedom to experiment, and know that all the detail and softness and intensity will be come to life on fabric.

Overall, my design process can be either elating or anxiety inducing. Learning when to push through or come back with fresh eyes is always a hard line to find.

Why did you choose a scarf as the first release in Art Garments own line?
Grace and I talked about starting with something simple that would be multi-functional. The scarf doubles as wearable art and hangable art. It’s up to you whether you adorn your body or your wall with it. Being a flat piece of hemmed silk, it can be adapted into many wears that refashion the artwork each time depending on the fold. 
Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments
Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments


Talk to me about the Melted Checker Runner
The Melted Checker Runner came into a life of its own one night when I was painting directly onto fabric to make a tablecloth. I loved when the two coloured inks bled and melted into each other. Being an all over pattern, the checker lent itself to becoming our table runner scarf, a nod to the tablecloths found in many still life sets and a staple piece found in many of our mum’s linen presses.
Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments 
Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments

It became a companion to each of the Still Life scarves, picking up on colours within each artwork. The colour balance was tricky. I had to hit the perfect lack of contrast so that you get a dreamy haze over your eyes where the two colours melt together, but inject enough contrast so that there is a tension that makes the colours pop. 

Kindly pick a favourite child and explain why
The Jug. She came into the world like a flash of lightning at 11.45pm, when I thought I had already finished the collection.
She’s candid and unworked and teaches me life lessons every time I look at her. 

And her bold, evocative colour palette makes me gravitate toward her every time I get dressed.
Art Garments Silk Scarves The Jug
Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments


Do you have a favourite piece of Art Garments' in your wardrobe?
A raw silk shirt with a made in Australia label. It’s screen printed with an abstract squiggly print and its natural slubs are characterful imperfections.
To me it has a distinct Spanish flair and it transports me to my favourite country every time I wear it. I’ve given it new life by scanning and reimagining the print into one of my first tablecloth samples. It can be seen above.

What can we expect from you in the near future?

Watch this space! As hinted at earlier, Grace and I have big plans for 2021 in the home & tablewares arena. As for garments, we are in the initial plotting stages of creating a universal unisex shirt that showcases art. The one below is our first sample: my own shell print on a lush silk hemp.
Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments
Leisa Wake Artists in Art Garments
The Still Life collection is available exclusively here

Look 1: Luminescent slip gifted to Leisa, worn with The Jug
Look 2: Metallic crinkle gown
Look 8: Ecru silk shirt, The ShortsButter Runner
Look 9: The Jug
Look 10: Ecru silk shirtButter Runner, Champagne silk skirt [coming soon]

A huge thank you to Leisa for her toil over the last few months and for her participation in this shoot on a 40° late November day, beginning with a 4:30am pilgrimage to the Sydney Flower Markets.

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