One look at Aida, and your inner child will be yearning to break out to spend an afternoon with her. Most inspired by the spontaneity of a child’s wild imagination, she brings fun into the seemingly mundane with her playful personality and whimsical art, some of which can be seen in our second Shentonista Restyled collection.
Aida’s artworks are based on spontaneous inspiration, from her own personal musings at the dentist, to Hayao-Miyazaki-meets-Sleeping-Beauty, social issues, and all too human quirks such as treating ourselves each time an inconvenience befalls us. On the other hand, her fashion choices are much more deliberate and conscious—she only purchases what feels special to her. Each item she chooses to buy is therefore deeply loved by Aida—so much so that she thought long and hard before deciding which clothes to share for her Restyled collection. In our chat with her, we touched upon her dreams outside of work, the two sides of Aida, and how she wishes for more time for her inspirations.
How does your eye for art and design influence your fashion sense?
I think my style has grown to be quite representative of the way I like to express myself, and this is seen in my art too: I’m drawn to colours, patterns, things that are a little off-beat and sometimes obiang. I like to dress how I feel, the way I also draw my emotions in comics and doodles.
You work in an advertising agency, but you also do independent work outside of it—can you tell me more about the differences between the two Aidas?
They’re the same, mostly, except one has to clock her hours in timesheets! I work in Advertising and I love how I get to work on brands that are different from the styles and skills I’m used to. Of course, it’s a challenge, but it helps to walk out of the ‘artist’ bubble from time to time and get to know the needs and wants of real consumers. These are people who don’t necessarily “understand” GrApHiC dEsIgN, but eventually learn that it’s not their job to understand.
I believe creativity is bridging that gap, learning to communicate with business and consumer objectives in mind—things that might not weigh as much to the artist who values freedom of expression. I’ve also grown to appreciate that creativity comes from everywhere—not just ‘artists’ or people with creative labels on their roles. Someone who works in the media department, for example, can offer a creative solution to your task that you’ve never considered. It teaches you to listen. And this helps my personal work as well, because it makes me more sensitive to my surroundings and discover inspiration in unexpected places.
In summary, I would say it helps to “pit one Aida against another”—they challenge each other and help each other evolve.
What’s the most frustrating or challenging part about creating art?
Time. I get excited about ideas easily and have an endless to-do list that grows every time new inspiration seeps in. I wish I had a million hours in a day to express them all.
If there’s someone you could sit down for a coffee with, anyone dead or alive, who would you choose and why?
If we’re talking about an ideal world here, I would like to sit with a version of my sister Sheila who can talk (she has special needs and is non-verbal). I want to understand how she sees the world, as someone who’s completely detached from social norms/media as we know it. She would probably be laughing at all of us, fussing about our silly gripes.
Part of the reason why we’re doing the Shentonista Restyled collections is to show people the importance of circular fashion. How often do you find yourself replacing the old with the new?
I buy what I think is ‘special’ and this can mean unique, or just something I personally feel is valuable. By that benchmark, I hardly throw/give my clothes away unless they don’t fit well, which could be a romanticised way of saying ‘hoarder’ (laughs). I think what I can do to be a more conscious consumer is to expand my idea of what makes a clothing item ‘special’. It could be that it’s been pre-loved, upcycled, produced by an independent artist, etc.
We know you’ve started designing and stitching your own clothes. When did that interest start and how has the process been?
I’ve always wanted to make my illustrations wearable, so creating my own clothes is a dream that has been on the horizon for a long time. I only actually started learning to sew this year, knowing that it’ll probably take 10 years and 100 mistakes before I get anywhere near my dream. I think when it comes to sewing, the journey really is in the process and it takes a lot of experimenting to understand the craft, learn what types of fabric work, how a slight difference in where you place your darts can change the structure of a garment, etc. I enjoy working with my hands a lot.
Could you share with us any fun anecdotes about your outfits that are part of Shentonista Restyled?
When Shentonista approached me about this project, I was actually pretty hesitant to put my clothes up on sale because I love them so much! What I did was to take the clothes that didn’t fit me well and upcycled them instead. Eg. cutting off sleeves, adjusting the length, etc. The pants that I painted were actually way too big for me—we had to clip it at the waist during the photoshoot!
Alternatively, tell us more about the artworks that are going up on sale too! What was the process of creating them?
The artworks are inspired by the colours and motifs in each outfit. For example, if the outfit features a neon orange bag as an accent piece, I chose to bring that to life in the painting by adding pops of neon orange. If the outfit features a floral-patterned-top with plaid pants, I tried to find a way to include both patterns in the artwork. It was a personal exercise for me in harmonising seemingly disparate patterns into a visual whole.
What’s your favourite medium to express yourself?
I would say I draw and illustrate most of all, out of habit. But I would like to think that I ‘express’ myself in all ways such as in my personality, the way I dress and the work I do!
Shop Aida’s full Shentonista Restyled collection here.