Michael Gurhy, is one of our most popular brands, and it is easy to see why. His style is effortless, easy to wear, and most importantly, absolutely en pointe.
Not only this, but the man behind the brand closely adheres to the believes of preservation, conversation and sustainability. He works with organic cotton, uses only vegan inks, and really cares about the footprint he leaves behind, not only aesthetically, through his creations, but ethically.
I thought, what better way to find out more about the brand, and the man himself, then to have a digital tête-à-tête, and see where some of his thinking come from.
A 'Q & A' WITH MICHAEL GURHY.
What is the inspiration behind the latest collection?
The ‘New’ Collection is actually a grown up version of my old designs with a few added surprises that pull everything cohesively together. I started by developing some of the past designs, playing with scale and tweaking colours. There are three new designs, Lost with You, Unicorn & Crow and Wolf in Blue Shorts. London is a huge inspiration for me and my work with it’s endless cafes, bookshops, galleries and museums. Perhaps the biggest change to the new designs is that the illustrations are no longer concealed within a frame, even my Fox with Black Crown had to get a tail makeover so that he could burst out of his confinement. I’m very interested in psychology and psychoanalysis and I think this unconsciously bleeds into all my work, I like the idea that things aren’t always as straight forward as they first appear. I think this might be the key in unravelling the new Collection.
What draws you toward the medium you use i.e. the vegan friendly organic cotton and types of ink?
Quality, accountability and sustainability are the heart of what draws me to the medium and materials that I use. I have been vegan for over ten years and this lifestyle choice absolutely influences the way that I make and produce. I’m not a factory and the idea of pumping out low cost garments from India where the workers are unfairly paid so that I can benefit from a larger profit is of no interest to me. There’s an idea in the world that expansion is always the right choice, when something is working effectively on a small scale there’s a certain mindset that creeps in and says “Ok but now quicker and bigger and cheaper and more.” and actually I actively rebel against this. Don’t get me wrong, organic and sustainable expansion in any business can be a wonderful thing creating new jobs and reaching new audiences but it’s not for every business. In the same way you can’t successfully mass produce a little family run Italian Cafe without losing it’s essence, I think there are many small businesses that have suffered and lost their uniqueness from this inherent pressure to ‘become more’. I choose to buy from businesses that produce ethically and trade fairy with an awareness of how they are impacting the earth so it would be hypocritical to not employ these same standards into my own business.
You've a really unique and very personal aesthetic, what initially inspired you to create this way?
I tend to create work intuitively and it usually comes in cycles, research, creation and downtime. I guess going through art college is what first inspired my personal aesthetic and the way that I work, being in an environment that supports and encourages you to not only seek out artists whose work you admire but to then explore and deconstruct that work on a deeper level pushes you challenge yourself into asking the same questions about your own practice. There’s a balance in not over-thinking the work so much that it kills your sense of exploration, while still making intelligent and deliberate decisions in what you are trying to convey through the work.
Where do you first begin when working on a new design?
I have a very hands on approach to creating, after a period of research and some experimentation that part of my mind becomes submissive to my intuition. Like a squirrel who has been collecting fragments of detail from my everyday encounters, images from books, music and cinema start to emerge and subconsciously inform whatever I’m working on.
Your artist portfolio is super impressive, and really inspiring, do you have any advice for any young creatives on how best to get their 'foot in the door’?
My advice for young creatives would be to really get to know your work and understand the environment which it best lives in. Don’t mould your work to ‘fit’ into every opportunity, not only is this soul destroying but seeing your work in the ‘wrong’ context can really trigger an artistic breakdown!
I would say enjoy the journey, creativity comes in waves so just ride those waves and learn a way of working that is sustainable for you long-term. For me that’s a mixture of studio days when I’m researching or creating, laptop days filled with form filling, applications and invoices but also having days dedicated to replenishing and feeling inspired by going to galleries and museums or wandering around bookshops. There sometimes tends to be a sense of urgency and anxiety around creativity in London which can result in people feeling stuck or overwhelmed, to counteract that I am constantly reminding myself that there are no last trains or lost opportunities when it comes to getting your work out there, focus more on developing your work than being ‘discovered’. Seek out advise/portfolio reviews from people whose work you admire, take on board any constructive criticism but also learn to trust your own intuition. Lastly I would say don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes, think of the bigger picture and check in regularly to see what steps have been taking in that direction, create a unique but cohesive presence on your social media platforms and network authentically.
What's your ideal summers day like?
You know what, I’m actually not so much ‘a park in the sunshine’ kind of guy, I mean I can do that, but after 30 mins I need to get moving! My ideal summers day would be spent wandering through endless markets and bookshops before a visit to Dover Street Market and Liberty. After Dinner in Mildreds I would finish the day downstairs in Grind in Soho with an espresso martini.
What one piece of clothing could you not live without?
I have an on-going affection for my Fiorucci Sweatshirt and Comme des Garçon converse.
If you could be anywhere else in the world right now, where would you be and what would you be doing?
Right now if I had to be anywhere else besides London I would choose to be be in Italy or New York, cafe hopping between endless gallery visits.
Thanks so much Michael! :)
If you've been inspired by anything Michael's said, or want to get a closer look at some of his work, zoom on over to Michael's featured page on our website here
Interview conducted by Daniel Hunter