THE FALL TATTOOING AND ARTISTS GALLERY
Walking into Josh Melvin’s The Fall Tattooing and Artists Gallery at 644 Seymour Street, you never know quite what to expect, but you know you will have a good time and meet some very cool people. Last Friday night was no exception. The evening was a blend of fashion, art, music and live tattooing. It was all for a good cause as designers and artists of many disciplines came out for the Pros and Cons Event (in association with Milk Productions) with proceeds going to The Save On Meat Token Program, supporting the downtown east side community.
Hand Painted Converse Shoes for Auction
From the sidewalk I was greeted by a window display of tattoo artists expertly decorating their live canvases while we watched the ink to skin process meticulously evolve. Inside was a mixed crowd of the hip and friendly, an eclectic crowd I couldn’t wait to slip into.
HELLOMOONROCK Designer Jamie Leah Gill (third from left)
The main event was a fashion show by featured designer Jamie Leah Gill, creative director of the NEWMOONROCK denim line. Her fashion show featured leggy models in specially refurbished cut off jean shorts and tops, studded, dyed and distressed for a unique look. She told me her inspiration for her show that night was wanting to express how a good piece of denim can escape time, to represent the life cycles.
HELLOMOONROCK: “It always seems to be in style, like, no one can escape the cutoff short, and there’s always a demand for it.”
First up was a fifties look: high waisted, using classic washes and paisley and leopard patterns to accentuate the pockets. Red lips and victory curls set the tone for this sweet set. The second look was more of a late sixties/seventies inspired hippie, gypsy feel, incorporating a variety of colours and tie-dyes. Long flowing flower child hair and crocheted sweaters completed the bohemian feel. The last look was futuristic with gem tones, punctuated with blue lips on the models, metallics, and featuring hardware with colours like evergreen which is Jamie’s favorite color right now.
After the show it was time for a quick interview, and Gill, having models in various stages of intoxication, had no time to waste in getting all of her stuff back together, so we got right to the point.
Gill started out making jewelry and selling vintage clothes on her website HELLOMOONROCK.com. It was when she began reworking these one of a kind pieces, particularly her cut off shorts, that she started selling so many of them. (”Someone picks a pair up and their friends are like, ‘Hey those are really sweet, where did you get them?'”). With the demand soaring, she decided she wanted to have something to offer on a larger scale. Seeing that increasing desire for distressed and studded denim and not liking the quality of the things she was seeing existing in the market, she focused on creating her pieces using designer denims which are high quality, thick, and she continues the process by adding studs and hardware and doing all of the hand-dying herself. “It’s all me, all the distressing and stuff.”
Jacqueline: “How did you get started in fashion?”
HELLOMOONROCK: “I’m going to fashion school now for fashion marketing, but I’ve always been creative with making my own clothes. More people were asking to buy my own clothes, so I kind of got into it that way. It all started out with vintage clothes, like thrift store mania… too much for anyone to really own, so I started to sell the vintage stuff. But then I was like, changing it and stuff, so basically it happened out of a really good response to the reworked pieces. It’s something that happened out of a passion.”
When asked about trends she said, “I’ve always really loved fashion, but not necessarily what’s in style “right now.” I do appreciate trends but I see them as more of a medium, some people hate trend and some people glom onto it, but I just see it as a canvas. So not every trend is for you, it’s just a vehicle to express yourself. I’ve never associated clothing with identity, it’s an expression, but it’s not like “I am a better person because I have this trendy shirt.”
Jacqueline: Do you see yourself as an alternative designer?
HELLOMOONROCK: I’m kind of on the border, I never really see myself as “I’m alternative,” but I never see myself as “I’m mainstream.” I just embrace what’s right for me, so…”
Jacqueline: “Where do visualize yourself going from here?”
HELLOMOONROCK: “I have a couple of things coming up…”
Gill is showing in a pop up shop this week at The Chinatown Experiment, a small space for entrepreneurs.
“It’s low cost, but it’s the social initiative that they take… they don’t make money off of it. Also, I’m expanding my website to offer a broader spectrum.”
She would like to see her pieces in select stores – they’ll be for sale at The Fall building and other small boutiques. She includes in her line: jackets, vests and some pants which are all essentially reworked premium denim, sometimes applying leather elements to pieces like her super studded jackets.
Jacqueline: What about that name? HELLOMOONROCK OOAK.
HELLOMOONROCK: I was selling vintage stuff and I was selling reworked stuff, so I wanted to distinguish between the new pieces and the reworked stuff, the idea is that is unique, you can’t get another one so that’s just what it means, it’s one of a kind.
Gracie Perkins and Samantha Wood of Sugar Skull Salon and Studio
SUGAR SKULL SALON AND STUDIO
Statuesque Gracie Perkins of Sugar Skull Studio, a little third floor boutique salon in Gastown, created the pretty array of hairstyles for the fashion show that evening, and I caught up with Gracie and her vivacious business partner, Registered Massage Therapist Samantha Wood, behind the scenes. They are radiant passionate, young businesswomen who love supporting the local arts community and host events of their own in their newly renovated space. Next up for them is a show featuring burlesque dancers, hair models, exclusive makeup lines from the states doing a pop up shop, as well as their rotating display of local artists’ work. “We’re all about the local love…” smiles Samantha.
Sugar Skull Salon and Massage Studio
68 Water Street #300, Vancouver
I chatted for while with a very interesting couple: he, tattooed, pierced, is a piercer by trade, and she, Jocelyn, with her shiny green locks, brought to me some enlightenment as to what it is they like about their tattooing experience…
Jocelyn with Jay Fritzsche
Jocelyn: “You feel like you’re doing something for yourself. You feel like you are doing something almost lightened, I get picked up from it. You just sit there and think. You try not to think about the pain, you think about everything else and the pain is not necessarily the first thing in your head. Any time I get stressed out, the first thing I want to do is go and get a new tattoo. For me it’s just that time to chill and relax and just be one at that time and I go home feeling so much more relaxed.”
Jay: “My goal is to Zen out and relax. You’ll get tattooed, it’s a different feeling, it’s like getting into a fight without getting into a fight. You sit for four hours under a needle, you get all the adrenaline and endorphines and after you get it you go home and you have the greatest sleep, it’s like you’ve just battled something… It’s something different. I’m working on a hundred hour tattoo myself. I’ve had 70 plus hours in the past six months.”
Jacqueline: “What is it about tattoos that you like? Why do you do it? Same as the piercings. Why do you do that to yourself and to other people?”
Jay: “It’s just the way I wanted to look, from a young kid I saw people with tattooes, I saw the Lizard Man when I was a kid, I saw the split tongue and I thought it was the greatest thing… An opportunity to express yourself the way that you wanted to express yourself. It’s a way to change your appearance, a way to separate yourself sometimes, also you find people like you in an interesting way. I have fun, I can fit a pen through my nose, I don’t really have to share seats on transit. I have little laughs to myself because on a crowded train or a bus, I’ll have a seat or two next to me, all just because of the way that I look, and to me that’s hilarious.”
Jocelyn: “When you look either like him or like me, it’s either somebody’s not going to talk to you and their going to act a little weird towards you, or you’re going to be able to talk to anybody of any different type asking you different questions, you learn more about people and when you learn more about people you learn more about yourself. They are the kindest, hardest working people in this industry.”
Jay: “There is no job like this job, and this industry. There’s really nothing like it. I always come back to this.”