Factory: The Creative Process
Fighters By Day, Lovers By Night, Drunkards By Choice
Early last year, Fed Pua (a friend with a knack for film and flash photography and founder of a rising local brand, Factory) approached me with the vision of designing vintage denim jackets. His idea was to recreate and revive the concept of Andy Warhol's Silver Factory from the '60's and it took us about a month of conversing back and forth, gathering mood board inspirations, illustrating designs and working together before the final design was created, and even months later when the apparel was born. There were a lot of revisions and collaborative brainstorming that gave me the know-how on working on a design versus working on my paintings which is a more personal process. To illustrate something by hand that would later be translated and stitched onto fabric is an entirely different experience that I would love to do more in the future.
Teaming up with Fed on this project has been a blast. Not to mention the fact that it was uncharted waters for me, seeing as I work traditionally and have little background with digital illustration. Despite my lack of knowledge, this collaboration gave me the chance to explore further and experiment with colors and textures digitally. The creative process was a bit different than my usual one and I wanted to note it down and share how everything came about — from conception to completion. I believe that the genuine value of a product is hidden within the process and knowing how it started gives it more meaning.
Let's jump to it. Here's my creative process for the collaboration project with Factory:
Brainstorming & Inspiration
The brainstorming part of the process was a quick one. Fed had a specific vision for the project and gave me tons of inspiration and references to look at and knew which kind of style he wanted to shoot for. Apart from his mood board, I also researched similar designs to get a better grasp of the work he wanted me to create. He settled on two animals (a tiger and an elephant) and asked me to do two variations of a tiger.
Concept & Variations
After we settled the details and the scope of work, I got down to the nitty-gritty of the concept. I worked on searching reference materials for the subjects he gave me and decided to work with dynamic poses since I wanted to give it more character and depth. I made a lot of roughs and gestural sketches for him to choose from. From there, he eventually chose a profile view (not so dynamic but a classic one) and a backward-looking stance of a tiger and an elephant balancing on its head.
Illustration & Revision
Once we watered down the sketches for the designs, I went ahead and started illustrating and translating it through various mediums like ink, pen and graphite to see how each one would turn out for the piece. As we moved forward with the project, I was tasked with a lot of minor revisions on the illustrations — like the eyes, the placement of the legs, the markings and so on. This is probably my least favorite part as it was the most exhausting (tracing paper became my best friend). Drawing the same subject over and over is no fun. Nevertheless, it's quite rewarding in the end. As we continued to work on each design and perfecting it to fit the description, I felt more fulfilled seeing everything coming together.
When the hand process was done, I transferred the design onto my digital workspace and manipulated it via Illustrator (Ai) and Photoshop (Ps). I have zero knowledge with Ai so I mostly worked on Ps where I experimented with the color and texture. With Ai, I simply did the sketch outline that I later on transferred to Ps. With the designs on Ps, I created multiple layers to combine the outline, the details and the rendering (color and texture manipulation) on top of one another to create the final illustration.
It was a series of e-mails before the final design was settled and deemed complete. Eventually, when I sent the digitally rendered designs (which I turned into a neat GIF below), Fed gave the thumbs up and loved it. It was only a matter of time until the apparel was born months later and debuted in the first collection for Factory, along with other reimagined vintage clothing.
Every project is different and meaningful and this one has been an absolute dream. I have always envisioned my works to be on a clothing line and this project is a step towards that ambition. Working on this project gave me a lot of learning experience, from conception down to completion and all the exploration and experimentation that happened in between.