The downstairs of Britt Sebastian’s apartment has had a long history. It was once a restaurant, then a hair braiding salon, then a store front, and is now the workspace for his locally based men’s wear label Hollywood Cemetery. Britt has been working around the clock on clothes that he is planning to premiere during Richmond Fashion Week. I recently went to his studio to photograph him, his current projects, and the space that he works.
Britt’s 2011 collection is inspired by images of early 20th century Russia.
The designers notebook…
In his studio, Britt has at least 5 industrial sewing machines, and a few more that are waiting to be set up. I asked him the process of acquiring them all and he said, “I search for really good deals, and I drive along time to get them.”
Juki is a Japanese sewing machine company and is Britt’s personal favorite. While Britt was working on the pockets for a vest he was making, it was impressive to see all the coordination that was involved in operating the machines.
Britt will be showing throughout Richmond’s third annual Fashion Week.
How long have you been living in Richmond?
Since last August. I was trying to expand my horizons as an artist and subject myself to a new experience that could inspire my writing. I was living in Lynchburg before where there was an emerging artists community and figured that moving to Richmond would be a step ahead. Here the artist community already exists, it’s not something that I have to help create.
Have you always had an interest in writing?
In a sense because I always had a diary for my private thoughts but never thought of it as a career or something that I’d want to devote my entire life to. My writing had always been a private thing but it became public when I shared some of my poetry and prose about relationships at a reading that 70 people showed up to that my friends and I organized. The turnout completely blew my mind and having people come up to me after I shared my darkest secrets helped me pursue writing more proactively. But the idea was never publicity for its own sake. More for empathy, for people to have something to relate to that are reading [or listening to] my writing. That connection, that sense of being understood is, of course, mutually cathartic for my readers and for me as well.
How have you benefited from using tumblr?
The tumblr community keeps me inspired and is what keeps me going as an artist and in my personal life. I have found other artists to do collaborations with and this has been very inspiring, but perhaps seeing the feedback and support that I get from my followers is even more encouraging. It’s amazing that I can post one of my regrets that I cannot even forgive myself and see that so many people identify with it, and love me all the same although they don’t even know me.
Your writing is very vulnerable. How do you decide what you write about and what you choose not to?
I usually write what I don’t want to tell anybody. I think people are starving for connections, me being one of them, and it takes opening up to other people to feel understood. You have to be brave for that. Also, writing is magical because somehow it allows you to express the feelings that you are afraid to admit to, even to yourself.
The first time I officially met JC was at a tUnE-yArDs show in Charlottesville. This isn’t surprising because JC goes to more shows in and out of town more than anyone I know, and he’s always telling me about bands. I sometimes will ask how he finds out about all of these bands and I can never get a straight answer. Since JC got a record player during the winter, he has really been building his collection and we met up to listen to some of his records over break.
This is JC’s record player.
Just some of the many records in JC’s collection.
Listening to Virginia native, Wild Nothing.