Tom interviews QUT graduate and Melbourne based artist Luke Doherty on fashion, inspiration, and the light at the end of lockdown.
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ROODMOOD: You’re a QUT Fine Arts graduate, what are you working on now? What’s your experience been with finding opportunities post-grad?
LUKE DOHERTY: I am! Visual Art major, Fashion minor. It was difficult after grad if I’m honest, some uni mates and I started an ARI (artist run initiative) to keep ourselves accountable and motivated, and those guys have sought out some amazing opportunities and residencies, but I could feel myself falling out of love with the path I was on. I’m currently the first cohort of RMIT’s new Sustainable Innovation of Fashion & Textiles degree, and going back to study was a hefty decision but has fully renewed my excitement and focus on what I’m doing.
RM: What’s one of the most gratifying moments you’ve had so far as a young artist?
LD: Even though my minor had probably the biggest impact, graduating was the culmination of pretty much my entire life’s expectation that I would be an artist. I went in thinking I’d develop a practice and came out certain that I’d go into curatorial work, but I’m just glad I committed to giving it a crack. And I still frequently get asked to design tattoos or do commissions which is always super gratifying when people actively support your art.
RM: The Martine Rose collection you’ve illustrated is a throwback from Fall ‘17. Has this collection been sitting with you since then, or is it something you’ve recently stumbled upon?
LD: I have totally been marinating on this runway since it happened. It was my first exposure to Martine who is one of my fave designers. After, I made it my mission to hunt down and collect anything I could find (read: afford) of hers. It was just a perfect excuse to integrate digital skills I developed during my first degree with fashion communication projects I’m working on now.
RM: What drew you towards the collection in the first place?
LD: Everything is me; the colours, the form, the textures – and the styling is so effing good. I would personally wear every single look from the collection and that helped retain my interest for the hours it took to doodle them. Also that ridiculous swept over foot-long bang every model is wearing, iconic.
RM: Is fashion a big influencer in your work? What else?
LD: For sure, fashion really became my focus before I even knew it did. My self-directed practice for the last two years of my art degree was investigating performances of gender and the pervasiveness of hegemonic masculinity within queer subcultures, thanks a lot to the cliché queer theory research blackhole queer artists usually end up in – so drag, dress and physical expression were big points of interest. Also studying costume design in film and TV really solidified my passion for the cultural significance of fashion.
RM: You’re evidently pretty fashion forward yourself. Do you have any tips for translating high-end collections like this into the budget-friendly wardrobes of starving young artists?
LD: Such a good question because these days it is quite easy to emulate high end. I would say identify which aspects your style relates to, for me it’s things like size and proportion, and start searching there. And sometimes investing in high end can be the most responsible means to consume fashion you‘re passionate about! As long as what you’re integrating into your wardrobe is something you intend to wear, the same considerations should apply no matter how cheap/expensive; is it me, will I wear this, do I love this?
RM: How have you been staying inspired and motivated during ISO?
LD: I felt crazy not needing to get changed because of always being home so I’ve tried to wear a new outfit every single day and get fully kitted out and it really helps to keep me going. I’ve also learnt to knit and am upcycling a bunch of old sourced clothes because I am constantly freeeezing here.
RM: What’s the first thing you’re gonna do when the lockdowns finally lift?
LD: Spread myself super thin! Having moved cities a few times now a big thing I’ve learned is the effect of saying yes to everything. I fully intend to see the inside of my house as little as humanly possible.
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All images by Luke Doherty.