Clym Evernden has been on my radar ever since he drew me serepticiously a few years ago. Since then I've been following his journey through beautiful artwork for brands like Louis Vuitton and Charlotte Tilbury. This month he's teamed up with Heathrow’s complimentary wrapping service in aid of Oxfam for a range of bespoke, beautiful limited edition gift boxes & bags. To celebrate, I went to his East London studio to talk style, art and Armand Van Helden’s Witch Doktor.
Roll neck wool navy jumper: Margaret Howell
Clym Evernden, Artist
Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I grew up in East Sussex, and went to school in Canterbury. I now live near Spitalfields, East London.
What did you want to be when you were a wee boy? I don’t remember having job ambitions to be honest! I had very specific interests, in particular nature, such as ornithology but never translated these into job prospects. Looking back much of my knowledge of the natural world has informed my use of shape, colour and a playful character and attitude in my work.
You started out in fashion design, at what point did you realise it wasn't your calling? I always loved the concept end of designing, creating the idea, atmosphere. I was never keen on the technical and production side. I’ve always been interested in fashion and can conjure up entire collections in my head including outfits, show venue and casting but the graft involved to make that a reality I’m not so keen on.
What inspired you to work in the fashion world initially? In my early teens I immediately identified with a certain industrial and grunge atmosphere that was happening in the fashion world. That was around the early 1990’s. I was never interested in super models and raised catwalks but felt excited by the drama and club culture atmosphere created in early shows by designers like Owen Gastor and Alexander McQueen. Simultaneously I became really into rave music and loved the energy on the catwalk which was often coupled with this kind of music at that time. Often I was more interested in the soundtrack to the show than the clothes; so the venue, set, casting, entire effect interested me. I became a bit of a fashion geek and can still reel off otherwise forgotten information, such as the Alexander McQueen A/W 1997 ‘It’s a Jungle Out There’ collection was shown in Borough Market under the arches below London Bridge station and the soundtrack opened with Armand Van Helden’s ‘Witch Doktor’.
Sunglasses: Blyszak Eyewear, Leather biker jacket: Topman, Merino wool jumper: MHL Margaret Howell, Acid wash jeans: Levi’, Trainers: Asics
Despite my love of menswear design, I think my personal style is very restrained and practical, mainly as the duties of a photographer are quite physical. How would you describe your style? I would never describe myself as ‘fashionable’ and I have no interest in trends. I do love clothing and like you I go for items which are both functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. It actually gives me pleasure to have clothing which has a practical appeal. I don’t really understand high maintenance or delicate clothing. I love fabrics such as denim and leather which evolve and gain character through use. I get a small thrill from pocket placement and size inside a jacket as I know I can access my phone and pens easily. Brands I go for at the moment are Carhartt and Levi’s for basics and Burberry Prorsum for tailoring and clothing I might wear to events. I also love Margaret Howell knitwear for the winter. I recently discovered an small French brand ‘Vetra’ which specialises in remakes of authentic French workwear jackets which I love.
When you're working at a fashion show, how do you make sure you get the best view? I'm very fearless and animated at shows so if I need to nip across the catwalk to a better seat just before the show starts I will. Often I speak to the PR if I’m not happy with my position and explain what I’m doing and they are happy to help.
Which do you prefer to draw, street scenes or fashion shows? It depends on the show or street scene. They’re very different entities, sometimes creating great work at a show can be a thrill as I’ve had to work so fast and am happy with the results, whereas a street scene might be particularly engaging because I'm interested in a specific figure and the work becomes an ode to particular otherwise forgotten moment in time.
There seems to be a renaisance in fashion illustration recently, why do you think that is? I think in the last decade websites and marketing tools became too slick and digital. We seemed to have moved into a more ‘honesty driven’ culture now which celebrates inventive and imaginative creations as opposed to a cold and polished conglomerate vision. Illustration is a great way of introducing 'hand-feel' and soul into a project.
Cap: Nike, Rigid selvedge denim jacket: Levi’s, Orange technical knit sweater: Carven, Black jeans: Levi’s 501, Shoes: Christian Louboutin
Your work has a dream life, optimistic quality. Do you think that reflects your character? Yes I do, that’s an interesting observation, I haven’t been asked that before. I love creating work which has a witty and characterful vibe, basically something that will make people smile. I have no interest in creating something tortured or heavy. I also have a very active imagination so can make up entire scenes and characters without the need for references. I suppose this does reflect my character. I often try and find humour in most situations good or bad.
What does this project with Heathrow mean to you? I was thrilled to be selected to work on a project which showcases a handful of top tier talents in my industry. I love creating work which is used as a print repeat for product, so I was excited to see the gift boxes and wrapping paper. It’s also the first time I’ve worked with the aviation industry. I love to travel so it’s great knowing something I’ve produced artwork which might enhance someone’s journey. I also like the idea that the gift wrap itself will make it’s own journey across the globe to various destinations. The fact that the project supports the charity Oxfam is also very important to me.
Leave us with some words of wisdom. I think it’s important to remember those in need or who are lonely during the Christmas period, as we all get consumed by buying gifts and seeing friends and family. Supporting charities like Oxfam is a good start.
Velvet top collar wool coat: Burberry London, Cream wool jumper: A Kind of Guise, Jeans: Levi’s 501, Scarf: Hand knit by Mum, Leather brogues: Burberry Prorsum