Creator and Executive Editor of Quail Bell
In the final days of Quail Bell’s Indie-Go-Go funding campaign, we catch up with the creator and Executive Editor to discuss the otherworldly, the second publication of Quail Bell Express, and Edgar Allan Poe.
How was Quail Bell started?
I’ve always been fascinated by the imaginary, the nostalgic, and the otherworldly. That includes everything from high fantasy to vintage fashion to Latin American to the Victorian Gothic. I decided to start a blog centered on these topics. At first, I went with Opus Fae. I posted my own original short stories, poems, collages, drawings, photographs, and more. For several years now, I’ve sold my art and writing online and at events like art festivals and bookstore readings. Within a couple of months, I became confident that enough people around the world shared my common interests and I wanted to become a curator of sorts. So I launched QuailBellMagazine.com. At first, I solicited submissions but before I knew it, people were requesting submission guidelines and sending me unsolicited submissions. Fast forward two years and I have about 75 semi-regular contributors and collaborators from across the globe.
Five questions for…
Men’s Fashion Writer/Blogger
In my short time in Toronto, I was greeted with the sincerest hospitality from Andrew and his wife Joanna. On my last night in Toronto, I meet up with the couple one final time at iconic venue and restaurant, Sneaky Dee’s, to find out more about the city they have called home for over a decade and the creator behind properclobber.tumblr.com.
How long have you been living in Toronto?
I came here for school in 1995 majoring in radio and television arts. I originally wanted to be a traveling news correspondent but now I work as a men’s fashion and lifestyle writer for everyguyed.com.
I’ve noticed people seem to be really nice here.
Finding the balance of life is in our nature. The average Canadian will wait to cross the street and be obedient to rules for their neighbors’ sake, but also a person willing to take liberties on their own every now and then.
How does Toronto compare to other Canadian cities?
Joanna and I often remind ourselves that Toronto is a great city and not to take it for granted. We can still live here and have all the things other cities have to offer with so many cool little places here and there. Areas that were not hip ten or 15 years ago are turning into hot spots within the city and becoming desirable places to live or at least travel to on the weekends.
I’ve seen many stylish people since I’ve been here; you seem to be one of them…
Toronto is more fashionable compared to other Canadian cities, particularly in menswear. I try to wear brands relating to culture. Brands that have a story behind them like Fred Perry…my personal favorite, Filson, or Lacoste, rather than high-end luxury brands that lack cultural history behind them.
What is the meaning behind the namesake of your blog, Proper Clobber?
The name is a reference for my love of men’s English heritage clothing. Clobber is an old British term meaning clothing that dates before World War II and over time developed into a word synonymous for “stepping out” clothes.
Andrew has a sharp eye and world-class taste that is reflected in his blog, properclobber.tumblr.com, a tumblr dedicated to Toronto street style and the latest trends particularly in men’s fashion. If you visit or happen to live in Toronto, make sure to stop by Cherry Cola’s where my good friend moonlights as DJ Stroke every weekend!
Meet Courtney, fashion guru, street style photographer, and columnist for College Fashionista and the Commonwealth Times. Often the one asking questions, read what Courtney has to say about her take on minimalism, crafting her personal image, and the best fashion advice she has ever received.
You’re majoring in fashion correct?
I applied to the fashion program at VCU on a whim and at that time I really didn’t know much about fashion. I had actually originally applied to be an environmental studies major. Since, I’ve been exposed to so many designers and what goes on behind the scenes. I have a much better idea of how the industry actually operates.
Quite an interesting predicament, well have you always had an interest in fashion?
I don’t think I have always had an interest, but my mom says I was particular about my clothing when I was really young. The first time I remember really making a conscious fashion decision was in the 7th grade when I had this dilemma about whether I wanted to be preppy or skater and then I went somewhere in between. I still wasn’t particularly fashionable, but it was my first real attempt at crafting an image for myself.
The skater/prep dilemma is something we’ve all been through, what would you define yourself as now?
I always try to think of how I would best describe myself or my image, but I really don’t think I could define it. I would say it’s pretty minimal. I sometimes like to say it’s “minimalism +” because I find myself most attracted to muted colors and simple silhouettes, but I do like to layer and incorporate interesting textures.
Sounds familiar to what you’re wearing now actually.
I love this sweater, even though it’s basic. I always seem to wear a lot of black and brown together and I like the idea of wearing stripes with other stripes. Black jeans are a staple and then jewelry always goes on last. I’m finally starting to get comfortable with adding more jewelry. The right jewelry can really make an outfit, so I’ve been trying to accessorize more deliberately.
You may be experimenting with a few things, but I can tell you are a person that knows what they like.
I tend to have a lot of self-imposed guidelines for myself in terms of what I can or cannot wear, especially when it comes to style and fit. I know what works for my sense of style and for my body, but I don’t want to box myself in unnecessarily either. Oddly enough the best fashion advice came from my mother. She’s always telling me not to have so many rules, often telling me to “just try things” because I might surprise myself and find that something I thought was off-limits may actually work pretty well.
See Courtney’s street style work on College Fashionista as well as in VCU’s independent newspaper, The Commonwealth Times.
1) I recently had the pleasure of being interview by Larissa Wisniewski to be featured on her website, From the Runway to RVA. It was a pleasure to talk to her and share my thoughts on Richmond fashion, what inspires my personal style, and share some of my favorite blogs. You can read the complete interview [here].
2) Need Supply Co. is a staple of Richmond’s Carytown and is one of the best stores I have been to anywhere in the world. Their merchandising is impeccable and a visit to the store or online store is an automatic go to place for anyone that is serious about their shopping. Over the weekend they posted a feature and some classic photographs of Dirty Richmond on their blog [here].
When did you become interested in photography?
In school, learning didn’t come easy for me but when I found art, it became easier. Easier in the sense of learning from visuals and creating art first hand. I was really into alternative application processes of paint, pastels, and building things.
And then that led you to photography?
During my sophomore year of high school, one of my really good friends wanted to apply for photojournalism class. I wasn’t as interested as her but I applied anyway. It turned out that I got accepted but she didn’t. While in photojournalism, photography just clicked for me and by the end of the year I was photo editor for the school’s yearbook.
So it was kind of coincidence?
Yes. It just kind of happened. Photography became an easy avenue to create. It became easier to interpret the things that I wanted to create through the medium.
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.
How’d you get into music?
When I was an early teen, I got grounded for an entire summer and my parents took everything away from me except for my guitar. I spent that time learning how to play songs off of the radio (since all my music was confiscated). I would record the songs off of the radio onto a blank tape and spend the next couple of days breaking the music down, learning how to play it. I was mostly into punk rock growing up but my little brother got me into heaver music. We eventually played in bands together, he singing and I on guitar. I never really liked singing live. With a guitar, it’s easier because you have something to hide behind, but with vocals you don’t have that luxury. Every eye is on you as the spokesperson of the group. It is your job to entertain and convey the message of the group in a way that is believable to anyone who is watching; it can be a very difficult task at times. I still get stage fright every time I perform. Performing can be really scary until the first note is out, but once the first chord is struck, it’s usually smooth sailing from then on.
Student / Fashion Designer
Tell me about your current line…
This line is mostly inspired from global influences. The red jacket is made from a French military parachute that I ordered from offline. I like using synthetic material for the jackets because it creates more of an industrial feel to the designs.
How did you decide on the name Hollywood Cemetery?
We were playing around with a bunch of names. I wanted it to say Richmond without saying Richmond. A lot of inspiration came from growing up here, living here, and the culture in Richmond. If you are from Richmond you will know the importance of Hollywood Cemetery, but if you aren’t, you may just think it’s a really tight name.
How long have you been designing?
I started working for a jean company two years ago in Raleigh, NC. I was doing ads for them, but as more orders started coming in, they needed more help so I started doing simple things and eventually, by the end of the summer I could make a pair of jeans on my own. The hoodies, bags, jackets, and screen printing were all self-taught. I’ve always loved to design and engineer, but I never had an outlet for it. For me, fashion has become that outlet.
What has been the most challenging thing to design?
Learning how to make a jacket. There was a trick to it that I didn’t know. Once I learned that I eventually caught on to it and everything started to come together a lot more smoothly.
Any future plans for Hollywood Cemetery?
I’m going to create sample pieces from the strongest pieces of this line, along with a few more in the future, and eventually start getting some stuff into stores.
Britt Sebastian will debut his first Hollywood Cemetery collection at Henry Gallery (212 West Broad Street) this Friday, March 5 during First Friday’s Art Walk. For more info, email Britt at email@example.com.