Painter Meets Fashion Designer: Q+A with Lennard Taylor
WORDS: Samantha Shaw
ARTIST: Lennard Taylor
SPONSORED BY: One of a Kind
One of a Kind is a marketplace and community of like-minded individuals that shape the culture of craft in Canada through the exchange of ideas, stories, and objects. Shop One of a Kind’s 2019 Spring Show from March 27th - 31st at Toronto’s Enercare Centre.
We share in One of a Kind’s belief that craft can enrich our lives, and that human creativity and self-expression are worth celebrating. We’re proud to continue supporting them as they champion creativity and further the culture of craft here in Canada.
In anticipation of One of a Kind’s 2019 Spring Show kicking off this month, we’re showcasing some of the incredible artists you’ll find at the show. Browse our One of a Kind Spring Gift Guide, read last week’s interview with Richard Ahnert, and join us today for our Q+A with Lennard Taylor (Booth K52).
I like how simple your life goal is, and how firm you stand in living that every day. Tell us how you use art & design to impact the people around you.
My goal in life is to make people smile and feel good; I do that by infusing my goal into everything I create. Whether it is a painting or clothing, I want people to feel the love I put into each piece. I want my supporters to feel joy when they put on a nice outfit because when you look good, you feel good. Art and design flow into everything we experience and I want people to experience happiness in each moment of every day.
What was it like jumpstarting your fashion career in Winnipeg? How do you think the city and your upbringing helped shape your work?
Starting my career was very difficult, I still remember living in a warehouse loft that had no kitchen and no shower for a few years. I made that sacrifice as I was able to create my paintings and clothing in a funky loft that gave me the space and freedom to create. Sure it was very difficult living and I ate a ton of those little 25 cent ramen noodle packages, but it was totally worth it. I feel very fortunate to have lived in that space as it really made me appreciate what I have now. I remember having to debate whether I could afford a coffee or not. I think this style of living really influenced my design because everything needed to be practical. Everything I designed needed to be at the core of what people needed because I was living below the poverty line. The nice thing about Winnipeg is you get 4 distinct seasons and it allows you to design in many different occasions. One thing that I think defines me as a designer is the layering I use in outfits, and I attribute that to the cold months in Winnipeg where you have to layer up or freeze!
What made you decide to start your own brand?
Starting my own brand wasn’t a decision, it was my life, it was part of me from a young age. I always felt I was meant to write my own path in life.
Your designs feel timeless and untouched by the quick trends that rip through the fast fashion industry. How would you describe your aesthetic?
Thank you! Timeless design is definitely what I think about when I design my collections. I want people to be able to wear clothing for life and not a season, its a modern uniform that you can always add to. The Lennard Taylor brand creates designs that are sleek, sophisticated and comfortable for their wearers. I often tell my clients that if you rip it, tear it or stain it you can always send it in and I can fix it in some way. The clothing industry is one of the worst polluters and I want my brand to be a leader in fixing this problem.
What sort of influences can we find in your work? What people, places, and eras do you look to for inspiration?
In a lot of my design you can see the influence of my ladies. I start my design by thinking of my customers, the ladies who support who I am and what I create. It’s because of these core supporters that I get to do what I do so I always like to think of them. I find inspiration in anything and everything in the moment, for living in each moment has its own special rewards. Sometimes I’ll find inspiration in tree bark or leaves, sometimes I’ll find inspiration in old magazines or fabrics. I like to leave myself open to any possibilities in any moment.
I’m drawn to the original artwork that’s featured on some of your garments. It’s a beautiful fusion! Was your first love painting, or fashion design? What inspired you to combine the two elements?
I am a painter first and designer second, painting is part of who I am as a person. If I don’t paint I get cranky; my wife can always know if I haven’t painted in a few days and she quickly gets me to do that. I first started amalgamating the two loves because I would get paint all over my clothing and people liked it. I sold a couple shirts of my own that had paint on them and then decided it was time to do it on purpose.
With my platform, I'm interested in exploring the emotional relationship many artists & designers share with their work. How do you feel your work explores your personal experiences?
My designs are a part of me — an extension of who I am. I HATE wasting things which is why I tell my clients to bring it back if they stain it. I don’t want my garments to end up in the landfill so I mend them, paint them and figure out ways to morph them into something new. Each painting is about bringing your friends and family with you wherever you go; may they give you strength and confidence to achieve your goals in life. This represents me pretty well because I never want anyone to feel alone. I always want people to feel they’re supported and loved. Each piece I create is another chance to make someone smile and feel good.
You’re back at the One of a Kind Show in a week! What can we expect to find at your booth?
This One of a kind show you’ll find me smiling in my booth ready to see all my friends. It’s always such a joy to communicate with my friends. I love being in the booth and seeing ladies come in and speak about how the clothing makes them feel; I cherish these moments. If you’re reading this I hope you come by for a hug or a quick chat! As far as products, you’ll see some new styles that work together with the old collections (clothing for life, not a season). You’ll see my original people paintings, you’ll see a new collection of bubbly circles (hand painted) which represent being your bubbly self in any circumstance. Lastly, you’ll see yours truly live painting in the booth!
I hear it often—One of a Kind is a great place to find mindfully-made goods! Over the last decade we’ve seen a definite shift toward sustainable fashion. People are demanding to know, Who Made My Clothes? How is the Lennard Taylor label mindful of its social and environmental impact?
We are definitely very conscious of this, which is why clients can come right into our flagship store and see our team sewing in house. We are always looking at ways of reducing our impact and footprint by recycling and up cycling our off cuts. All our people are paid living wages and come to play at work rather than grind out a day. We pride ourselves in making everyone feel welcome.
How can we, as consumers, help change the fashion industry, too?
Reduce, reuse, recycle, are the easiest ways consumers can help change the industry. Just because something is old doesn't mean it isn’t good anymore! You can always find a way to use it for something. The more people demanding transparency from brands, the more the industry will respond in a positive way.
What advice do you have for people who are interested in developing a more sustainable wardrobe?
Start with a capsule wardrobe of key essential pieces that can work together in several ways. I always say buy nice or buy thrice. It might cost extra to get some well-made pieces, but you’ll save in the long run because they’ll last way longer!
I imagine you’d like to end on a smile. Any last thoughts you’d like to leave our readers?
Did you hear about the Swedish navy and how they’re putting barcodes on the side of their boats? It’s so they can “Scan-da-navy-in” when they come back to port.
Sorry I love cheesy jokes. I hope if you read this you’ll come by my booth and tell me your favourite cheesy joke :)