Monday, September 15, 2014

Capturing the hearts of the strange and unique | An interview with Laura Flook

Who is Laura Flook? 

Good QUESTION! Though I would find it impossible to even try to summarize myself in a mere sentence (or six, seven). I’m not a participating member of the self-examining sect and prefer not to think about defining my identity which wouldn’t make much sense to anyone other than myself, if I tried, anyhow, but ultimately and simply I am no one of particular consequence. Unless, of course, I am mentally swindled with purpose. For then I will expel a typhoon of UNHOLY VENGEANCE to which there is NO RECOVERY (kidding..sort of.. no...I am….) the worst I will do to someone who troubles me is bury them deep in the 'Laura Flook Cerebral Cemetery'. But that’s really for my own benefit and not the deliberate retribution of others.

 A lot of people, both locally and internationally first became aware of you when you appeared on the reality show Oddities. You have a very eclectic and odd presence that is incredibly endearing and its that presence that captured the hearts of the odd, strange and just lovers of the strange and unusual. That must have been a bizarre experience for you, to suddenly have a fan base and complete strangers incredibly interested in everything you do? 

 More bizarre than anything I’ve ever experienced (and I’ve traipsed through some rather colorful circumstances). Never before, have I felt more flattered, frightened and confused all at the same time. I was actually shocked anyone took notice to me, really. And I still am. 

 You spent almost 7 years in the death care industry as a mortician. Can you explain your love for the mortuary sciences and how that career path lead to and has influenced you today as a fashion designer?

 Yikes, I could certainly begin to but I don’t think I would be capable of ending in a reasonable amount of words that would actually explain anything.

 One of the things I admire most about you is your sincere love, passion and curiosity for what you do. Your uniqueness and personality is very much a part of what you now create in fashion. How do you ensure you stick to your personal style and embrace your unique version and keep that ethos going? 

Thank you Renee :) Necessary and self-indulgent independence. I spend and have spent - a great majority of my adult life without the routine company of other human beings-and that's how I prefer it, for various reasons. But I believe that has most definitely been instrumental in allowing me to stay true to myself (I should point can also be - for a variety of reasons- incredibly unwise). But when you’re alone, you become more resourceful and in turn, innovative. As a result of this, some amazing or at least surprising things can come to fruition. I’m confident (almost stubbornly) with what I find appealing and what I do not and I consciously keep myself a respectable distance from or at least do a great job of ignoring the opposing feedback and opinions of others. The old cliche ‘staying true to oneself’ carries (as many cliches do) quite a bit of weight to it. Insincerity makes me uncomfortable.

Also worth mentioning - and this may sound tremendously self-centred  as it kind of is, but not for vanity purposes. I mostly out of avoidance,  steer clear of comparing myself to others. and to facilitate that I spend very, very little time examining the work of others. There’s so much beauty and disgust on this planet. If given the choice  (and I have been) I’d rather try creating my own little world of wonder than to tirelessly seek out the perfect dominion of another in which to adapt. Unrequested criticism can often unnerve me. I try not to allow it too and for the most part, I’m desensitized to it, having endured uninvited fault-finding on a near daily basis since as far back as I can remember, which I can’t even say I’m upset about, because I'm certain that’s helped promote my thirst for knowledge and appetite for ability. Constructive criticism is very important. 

I'm incredibly grateful for the amount of callouses that have accumulated over my self-confidence, in order for most of the negativity to override my morale. But there are times when I am more vulnerable to unwelcomed expression of discouraging confidence and enthusiasm in moments (or periods, as it sometime is) of fragility it can lead to self-doubt and boxed thinking. Both of which, are not good for motivation-nor for visionary purposes- and whenever I’ve decided to make changes to appease the candid judgements of others, whatever I’m working on usually ends up an uninspiring pile of mediocre crap. That of which I am not pleased. So routinely I remind myself to 1) consider the source- for too many reasons to list here - but the gist of it translates as such: “most people are operating on ‘auto-pilot’ bullshittery..taste varies..and you'll never please everyone".

And 2) to "Trust my instincts" - Absence of innovation and blindly following the traditional trail of others usually leads to an “ordinary” outcome and earth is by no means hurting for anything ordinary, be it fashion, art, literature, music. So I’m innately inclined to push aside the protocol, directives and general guidelines usually adhered to. I don’t ignore them completely, for there is many a lesson to be learned from those but there’s also a lot of rubbish to sift through as well. Not going to school (and I am absolutely NOT promoting the abandonment of formal education here) but in a lot of ways - and i’m mostly referring to creative principles-  it certainly can be applied to documented sciences as well NOT knowing “the rules” allows you more freedom to solve problems, create inventively and hard-earned pride of your intellectual discoveries. No one is standing by your side telling you ‘that’s not how it’s supposed to be done”. Rules are limitations and limitations lead to death and extinction. Sorry for all the words.. am I still answering your question? I apologize if I derailed a bit. In the time it took me to explain all that, I probably could have drawn a very amusing picture of a pregnant, baby-eating rodent. I'm not trying to put your readers to sleep but perhaps some struggle with insomnia and this will serve as good bedtime literature :) and now I think I may need to later draw the aforementioned picture of a pregnant, baby-eating rodent. If i do, I'll email you a copy. 

Were you always a little different growing up and what do you think is the best part about being a little left of centre? 

 Until anyone can clinically explain the centre terrain to me and all its inhabitants, I cannot assume I reside anywhere to the left of it. There are a lot of creatures on this planet. Whose to say there isn't some undiscovered tribe of persons exactly like me, living in a cave somewhere, with no attachment to census polls or public scrutiny? That said, I don’t know, perhaps a bit. No one is exactly the same and I do tend to gravitate towards "reason" which is humorously-enough often considered more unconventional.

You have also flirted with modelling in the past. Is this something you would consider re-visiting if the right project came up?

 Hahahahaha, unless it's directly related to something I create or wish to promote? No chance. I came.. I saw.. I didn’t conquer, but I definitely confused a few people and certainly partook. Truth be told, and I’ve made NO attempt to hide this - I really do not like the fashion industry. Anything you attach the word industry to, for that matter - holds a kind of repelling quality to the business sense of the word, that is. Which unfortunately is attached to just about everything.

I’m not against capitalism. I enjoy earning money. I'm just severely disgusted with materialism, pretension and classicism - three things which the fashion industry is over saturated with..which is why I’ve remained quite detached from its concourse and why I’m in the process of disassociating myself with it even more.

 Your pieces have a very romantic Victorian meets baby doll theme to them. Where do you draw your inspiration from and what is your main goal for your work? 

 I'd have to say...Victorian Baby Dolls. hahaha - well, I won’t discount the baby dolls, entirely.. But life-size children’s attire of the Victorian era (and many other periods past) have most definitely been a large inspiration in much of my work. As for my primary work-related goal? - on the most basic of levels, to remain independent. 


When it comes to other fashion designers are there any designers, modern or since passed that you really adore?

 I’m not too familiar with anyone’s collections in particular..I adore a lot of work out there. Though I consciously avoid familiarizing myself with many, actually..long story short - it’s so it doesn’t interrupt my personal creativity and output. Fashion is constantly recycling itself. One need only mentally scan the trends of the 20th century to notice repetitiveness. The one thing that is often lost in the spin-offs is the uniqueness, craftsmanship, and/or quality of materials which is fine if your goal is apparel of mass production, but single-handily that was really never my intention.

 Do you have any personal style icons? And what are some of your favourite staple pieces?

 Icons - in terms of fashion? No one specific comes to mind.. I’m looking around my apartment for clues. I can’t say I see anything that would suggest evidence of singular idolization..strictly style-speaking? perhaps the imaginary test-tube adult offspring byproduct of a genetic orgy involving a scullery maid, a French revolutionary soldier, a Charles dickens’ street urchin, a Gestapo officer, a bloodthirsty Neanderthal, and an 18th century musician.....there were probably others :)

And staple pieces? I always wear shoes. I like boots. I like coats.. Much of the time, I dress for utility. T-shirts and hospital scrubs. If outside-a wide-brimmed, black hat to block my face from the sun, or cover cranial hair disarray, often capped off with a long, dark navy raincoat that’s got a bit of red paint spatter on it and some white paint (which kind of resembles bird excrement at this point).  I can get messy while i’m working. Although I did recently up-cycle a very old garment into a rather stylish (in my opinion) unlined, short-sleeved summer-overcoat that has since replaced my raincoat, much more suitable for warm weather. When i feel up to it I enjoy the contrast of putting a tad more effort and care into my appearance. You can’t fully appreciate dressing up if you never dress down.

Lastly, what can we expect from Laura Flook moving towards 2015? 

Earlier this year, I was determined to have Expiration Date 2 finished, printed and available to order by the winter holidays..but as you know, my beloved black lab- Trocar went into a quality-of-life-decline, so caring for her pretty much 'round the clock and then coping with her mercy killing and aftermath. I just could not focus on anything else. I couldn't even really speak to anyone. I am still not 100% (and don't really expect to ever be after losing the most important entity and closest creature I've ever allowed in my life) but I am not the incapacitated mess that I was. Still, there is likely no way in new jersey I'll have EXP. Date 2 finished, published and ready until (I'm guessing) well after the new year. I'm not only writing it this time - I'm also illustrating it so there's a LOT more work to be done and the printing will take some time of its own. But I am quite pleased with the comics progression thus far and feel it will definitely be worth the wait.

Currently, I am working on a few things which include sampling and production of two scarf designs, prototyping a necklace, finishing Trocar's memorial video (which started out as a mere slide show of photos with music- but quickly turned into something a lot more involved. I'm also designing a three piece suit and shirt for Crispin Glover - for an upcoming untitled Crispin Hellion Glover feature film.

On the horizon - I have decided to direct the majority of my focus and efforts towards creative projects of the written and visual sort. Expiration Date, storybooks,other written works,..short films, mixed media crafting (I have trouble using the word 'art' as a noun, when it comes to anything I create). I still plan to sell neck wear, jewelry, t-shirts and occasionally- one of a kind pieces and will definitely still be making clothes for myself.

 If I was bankrolled to create a clothing line that someone else produces, I'd most certainly consider it, but as a one-moron operation with a billion ideas and a variety of tasks-each of which usually considered a profession of its own (and most of which I consider nearly as captivating as plywood) it's just too much for one person to handle (one person who doesn't have a wealth of coinage at their disposal, anyway) and for the most part, I need to work alone. I don't believe I could even handle having an apprentice. Other people stress me out and most unnecessarily. I have stacks of composition books filled with nothing but ideas, sketches and designs. All of which I have basically kept to myself. Im thinking one day I will make this..write those..photograph these.... they're all just so varied, many complicated. Some designs don't even co-operate with gravity. and some ideas are a very, VERY long drive from my element. Still entertaining though. The least I can do - feasibly - is fashion them into assorted stories of varying form. So.. yeah, that's the plan.. for now.