We speak to East London based Artist, Michael Gurhy about the inspiration behind his all-round eco tees and what keeps him sane in this chaotic city...
All of Exquisite Decadence t-shirts, sweatshirts and cards are made using eco-friendly, organic materials and are sweatshop free. Being a Vegan, Michael Gurhy has being hugely involved in the overall process of his garments, to ensure he is producing a truly beautiful and ethical piece.
What are you / your prints inspired by?
Visiting art galleries, museum trips, wandering through markets, sitting in cafes and people watching. I have to listen to music when I'm creating and I go to the cinema at least once a week... to be honest I find inspiration everywhere but that's the thing about London, there is no shortage of creative stimulation, you just need some moments of calm in the mix to avoid overstimulation and feeling overwhelmed! I incorporate yoga and meditation into my weekly routine so that I don't fall too far off balance in times of chaos.
Your brand is eco-friendly, sweatshop free etc. was this a subconscious decision when starting the brand?
It was a very conscious decision actually but to get where I am now was definitely a process. I wanted to create a product that was affordable but also in the midst of this 'disposable fashion' mindset we seem to have adapted to I knew that every part of creating that product was important to me. From the vegan water-based inks used in Screen-Printing to the sweatshop free, eco-friendly construction of the garments. Initially I used a garment brand that I knew was sweatshop free but who on closer inspection seemed a little shady about what exactly that meant. I knew I would have to increase the cost of my product if I was to find a brand whose ethos I was completely confident with printing my illustrations on and that did cause me a little concern for existing customers however I felt I had to go with my gut instinct and values. After some research I came across the brand Earth Positive which instantly felt like the perfect fit I had been looking for.
If you could give yourself advice back when you graduated, knowing what you know now, what would you tell yourself?
I'll tell myself not to worry so much, its all too easy to get caught up in the mindset of catastrophizing. In general I'm quite an anxious person anyway so I really need to constantly keep this in check. Have a vision, stick to your values and do a little inspired action everyday in that direction. Being authentic in your interactions with people in business can really go a long way, at the end of the day it's about creating and maintaining a connection based on mutual trust. I would tell myself to be around people who are doing what I want to achieve and not to waste my energy or time in the wrong places, sometimes you might need to let someone or something go in order for you to you continue to grow. There are no mistakes, fake it till you make it and remember tomorrow is another day and sometimes after a good nights sleep we can see things from a new perspective. Oh god, I hope that's not sounding like a self-help book!
What's next for Exquisite Decadence?
Exquisite Decadence is the name I gave to the brand to differentiate the illustrative/print work that I make especially for the greeting cards and t-shirts from the other work I do as an artist which is more based in painting and video art. I'm going to be incorporating new designs to the collection, a lot of people have been asking for the cosmic unicorn on one of the greeting cards as a tee so that's next on the list! Besides that I have a live/work studio space that I rent through Bow Arts and we have an open day coming up so I'm currently getting ready for that. I'm working on a new body of work for an exhibition next year as well as a few illustrations for magazines features, I've just had a collage/illustration in the editorial for Novelty Mag. Besides that anything could happen, such is the precarious life of an East London based artist.
Shop Exquisite Decadence in-store at Concept Store Y on Brewer Street in Soho, London! X