Brianda Fitz-James Stuart - Pattern designer and illustrator obsessed with beauty and the magic that hides in the most unexpected places
This time we can't say we have ever met our #viragomuse, at least in person. However, Brianda Fitz-James Stuart's creations have always caught our attention. Creativity is in her blood and her drawings have conquered several prestigious brands, and not only in the fashion industry. Today she tells us a little more about herself, her "elixir" of inspiration and a small preview of her future works.
Photographies by Mel Seser
Virago Barcelona: Hi Brianda, maybe some know you more than others, but I'm sure everyone has seen one of your drawings from one of the many collaborations you've done. Besides, your relationship with art is almost in your blood since you have lived with it since you were a child, isn't it?
Brianda Fitz James Stuart:
Art is a language that comes naturally to me since I was a child, at school it was my favorite subject, at home we painted a lot, we went to museums....
It has always been part of my daily life, I couldn't live without painting.
VB: Before we get into the subject, there are questions we can't avoid. So, tell us, how would you define yourself in a few words? Tell us who you are ;)
BFS: I guess I'm sensitive, creative, somewhat fearful, with a sense of humor, shy in front of the world, outgoing with my friends, a bit whimsical, an animal and nature lover. Obsessed with beauty and the magic that hides in the most unexpected places.
VB: And the million dollar question, what song should we play on Spotify to read your interview?
BFS: Oceanic Feeling by Molly Lewis.
VB: I am not sure if you know that at Virago Barcelona we are particularly obsessed with prints, bold colors and any detail that adds a special touch to our designs. So it's no surprise that we've been attracted to your art and your use of shapes, colors and prints. How did it all start?
BFS: I was 18 years old and, although what I really wanted to study was Fine Arts, I finally opted for fashion. It was something creative and at that time I found it interesting. It is curious that this decision, which I made without thinking about it, has absolutely marked my professional career.
When I finished after a year in New York, I started working at La Casita de Wendy. I was struck by their brand philosophy, how different and delicate their prints were. With them I learned a lot about printing and about beauty, they had a great influence on my way of drawing.
After working in fashion for almost 11 years, I decided to jump into the pool and focus on painting, it's what I really enjoyed, I didn't want to limit myself to fashion, I felt the need to experiment with different supports. As printmaking is applicable to everything and has infinite possibilities, I have been able to make books, carpets, wallpapers, murals, agendas, ceramics...etc. I never get bored!
Photography by Helena Grimaldi
VB: Your art, from what we understand when we see it, speaks of fantasy, magic, a bit of imagination, there are no limits, freedom in all senses but, above all, in the creative one. I thought that's what I wanted to transmit if one day I created my brand, that women have always been free, but that the time has come to say it and show it at all times. We do it through the way we dress. Your paintings breathe the same idea, how do you try to express your ideas? Even if it's the usual question, how do you start creating?
BFS: It depends on the project and the moment. There are times when an idea or an image comes to my head without thinking about it, I quickly start painting and the painting itself tells me what I have to do. Other times, if I'm more blocked, which is more normal, I like to look at art books, take walks, go to museums, watch movies, anything that helps me to get inspired.
VB: We often comment in the office how difficult it is to collaborate with brands without sacrificing your essence or theirs, the challenge is always to join forces. Obviously, the more you share values, the easier it is. That's why your magical, sometimes esoteric and otherworldly style couldn't fit more with Gucci. And that's why we love it when you do these collaborations. Who would you like to collaborate with that you haven't already worked with?
BFS: I wouldn't mind collaborating with Gucci again! Also, I would love to collaborate with House of Hackney or Gaston Y Daniela or make a scarf for Hermés. I can think of endless possibilities!
Brianda Fitz-James Stuart x Gucci
VB: And not only do you paint, but you also write! Is there any art that you don't do? Music? Theater? Why a book? How do you find time for everything? Sorry for the barrage of questions, but we're just blown away by how multidisciplinary you are, and how well you do despite the juggling we imagine you have to do.
BFS: I would never really say that I write, in fact, it's very difficult for me. It's true that in my last book there are short texts that accompany my paintings, but the illustrations are always the protagonists.
VB: Artists or those of us who work in the creative world usually have a place to go to be what is popularly known as "inspired". In my case, for example, I need to change spaces a lot -always with natural light, of course- to have different stimulus to create. And I always need my ipad next to me. What is your "elixir" of creativity?
BFS: My elixir is to be close to nature, the more isolated and quiet the better. Since I have become accustomed to spending time in the countryside to paint, I find the city too aggressive and it disperses me a lot. My collection of art books is also my elixir.
VB: And now, what are you working on, any super secret projects that we might know a clue about?
BFS: I'm painting a piece of furniture that I hope to finish in June. Soon I will be able to tell you about a collaboration with a very cool cosmetics brand. I'm starting to paint larger formats and for the moment that's all I can reveal.
VB: If you had to choose one art gallery in the world in which to exhibit your art, which one would it be?
BFS: To be honest I've never been interested in exhibiting in a gallery, I don't discard it but I'm more interested in doing projects like painting furniture and making beautiful objects. I feel closer to craftsmanship than to the art world.
VB: I am not sure if you you are aware of the meaning behind the word VIRAGO, we always invite everyone we know to read its meaning here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virago. Although historically the word virago has taken on a derogatory meaning, being used to describe women with aggressive characteristics or who acted "like men". We see here a different and very positive meaning. I am a Virago because I am strong and a fighter? so this is not an insult but a quality that should be gender neutral. For us, all the women we interviewed have something in common; we consider them to be a Virago woman.
BFS: I struggle every day to be the best version of myself, to evolve and not be afraid to move forward.
VB: Do you think your illustrations also convey these feelings of strength and courage?
BFS: Although my illustrations are delicate and somewhat naive, I think they convey strength through their colorfulness and simplicity. They are honest and direct.
VB: Thank you very much, Brianda! It's a pleasure to be able to discover you a little more on the inside and I hope to continue discovering you on the outside through your works.
BFS: Thank you! A real pleasure to have shared this lovely moment.