What follows is what happened.
My uncle introduced me to the guitar and music in general. Playing guitar with him was a real thing for me as I always admired him – He sadly died 6 years ago when I was 18 from alcoholism and smoking. I felt lost as he was a big part of my life.
LIAM ASHLEY CLARK (interview with Freya Gibson)
For those people who haven't come across your work before, could you describe it in 3 words?
Funny, colourful & street-inspired.
Are there any consistent underlying themes of inspiration for you when you're working?
Sometimes just stuff I see in the news or on T.V, sometimes just stuff I see in the streets. I do like a bunch of different work so, it can be really colourful patterned stuff or it can be funny drawings or photos.
At CAFIN, we're dedicated to designing sustainable and ethical fashion. Some of your illustrations explore sustainability and environmental issues with humour. What do you think is the biggest threat to our environment in 2017?
Just ignorance really. You see it a lot especially in America, the idea that 'we don't need to worry about that' and that 'it's not a big political issue'. When really, it's just a general issue.
And how do you think we could change that?
When Obama was in power it was top of his agenda, I think we need to go back towards that direction. Generally as a society, to not think of it as part of an agenda but as something that needs to be talked about.
On your website, you've said that you've spent a lot of time skateboarding. Skating and creativity often seem to inspire each other. What is it about skating that inspires you personally?
I've been skating for more than half of my life now and I don't get a chance to go out skating with friends a lot anymore, so it's more just cruising around the city as a way of transport. When I was at art school we learnt a lot about psychogeography, how places inspire you and the psychology of places. Skateboarding is quite a rare way of travelling at ground level without being in a car and zooming past things or walking and only seeing shop windows. With skating, you're looking at things differently and you're moving through the city in a way that's kind of different to other people.
We're also committed to supporting & promoting young artists in the creative industries. Why do you think young people find it so hard to move through the industry & what are the problems you've faced as a young artist?
I think a lot of it is to do with money really. I'm not from a particularly rich background, I'm not from the lowest end but I definitely couldn't survive on an internship or on voluntary work. I have to work full time and get about 3 days to do my work, and I can't just be travelling to London or anywhere to do things that way. You have to just use social media, which can be good but it can also mean you're just in a sea of so many other people now. So you kind of don't need to be in a big city because you've got the internet, but at the same time you can't afford to be in a big city anyway.
What kind of support would you have liked/would still like now, if possible, to help you with that?
I think the art world in general isn't very accommodating to people who don't have great financial needs, especially considering most artwork is sold at relatively high-end prices for normal people to buy, so that money doesn't seem to sort of trickle down into the lower end of the arts. You have to build your whole career up on basically nothing and then all of a sudden you can have loads of money. There's not much good, paid work at entry level, even with an arts degree.
So, what's in the pipelines this year for Liam Ashley Clarke?
I've just released a bunch of drawings with Moosey Art, so I'm going to do a few more of them. I was going to do a show this year, but that might have to be next year now but it just means something to work on throughout the year. And I'll see what else comes up!
Check out Liam's work at http://www.liamashleyclark.com
Photography: Phoebe Heaton
CHETNA ORGANIC & RCM
Based in India, specifically the regions of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha, Chetna supplies us with great quality, fairtrade cotton as well as, develops an increasingly sustainable and profitable working environment for local farming families. The recent increase in cotton cropping patterns in India has seen local farmers’ capital suffer due to their dependence upon external inputs such as genetically engineered seeds and chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Not only are they expensive but they also bring potential health hazards for workers, especially women and girls. This, combined with the fact that the rural banking sector relies on the exploitation of non-institutional credit sources as a result of little financial growth in the recent years, means that rural cotton farmers’ health and profits are suffering as a result, not to mention the ecology of the rainfed regions. Chetna's Organic & Fair Trade Cotton Intervention Program, functions on credible financial formats and takes advantage of locally accessible input resources in order to minimise both, health and financial risks for farmers. Chetna also invites cotton farmers to voice their own concerns and ideas for the development of the industry and community welfare.
Working alongside Chetna Organic is our manufacturer, Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills based in Kolkata. Unlike most manufacturers, RCM deals solely with Organic Fairtrade Cotton and eco-fibres within their production lines. Also committed to supporting small organic farmers, RCM offers fair labour conditions certified by GOTS (The Global Organic Textile Standard) and SA8000. Using fibre-reactive dyes, RCM are able to cut down on water and heat usage as well as, waste run-offs. The dyes contain no toxic substances or heavy metals, and meet all EU standards for eco-friendly pigments.
At CAFIN, we are proud to be able to contribute to the continuity of innovative projects like, Chetna's Organic & Fair Trade Cotton Intervention Program and the work of RCM, which improve the working and living conditions for farmers in rural India and pave the way for other suppliers and manufacturers to do the same. All whilst being able to provide you with original and high quality streetwear!
Author - Freya Gibson