Meet Anthony Peters ~ Designer and Illustrator of Some of The Fableists’ Tees

Illustrator and Designer Anthony Peters

Illustrator and Designer Anthony Peters

Anthony Peters is a UK-based illustrator and designer. He has illustrated three t-shirts for The Fableists’ launch. They will be available in limited edition soon. Anthony is represented by RARE BIRD in London.

TheFableists: Tell us a bit about your background. Where did you start? Where do you come from?

AP: I’m a council estate kid from a single parent family who got a free University Education in Fine Art and now runs a successful design and illustration business. Thanks to the way the system used to work…

My earliest creative memory is of visiting the Natural History Museum when I was 5. I got bought a fold out poster of all the dinosaurs and went home and drew them all. My mother told me I should be an artist and I guess it sank in… Though I wanted to be an archeologist before an artist!

TheFableists: What, or who, inspires your day-to-day work?

AP: I’m a Culture junkie, so inspiration comes from everywhere, old Ladybird books, Graphis annuals, record covers, music, films… But a big percentage of my inspiration comes from my family. My kids are bursting with ideas and it’s hard to compete! And many of my ideas come to me when I’m walking my dog along the East Sussex cliffs!

TheFableists: Would you say you draw everyday?

AP: I definitely make things everyday, not necessarily always with a pencil, sometimes ink, sometimes Gocco prints, screen prints but mostly stuff on the computer, sadly.

TheFableists: Where are we most likely to find your work? Is it mostly in the medium of advertising, magazine, print work or online?

AP: I’m a kind of jack-of-all-master-of-none kind of character so I have done editorial for people like GQ and New Scientist, tees for companies like 2K by Gingham, stacks of screen prints with people like Print Club London and Unlimited Editions, done some apps with School Of Happy and kids illustrations with Okido Magazine. It suits me fine to work in many different mediums as it would drive me insane to do the same thing again and again just because it was successful. I would rather try new things and fail than repeat myself and succeed.

TheFableists: What were your inspirations behind the designs you created for us?

AP: The inspirations for the designs I made come from long held beliefs I have that fit right alongside those of the Fableists.

The Factory piece is a piece of Paris 68 Student Riot style graphics given a new context. It suggests that factories shouldn’t pollute and degrade our world and that they could, in fact, be used as decent and fair working places which care about environmental concerns.

The ‘Wear Me Out’ piece is a simple statement on the fact that we seem to throw things out for the most arbitrary reasons, nothing I like more than seeing someone in a well loved and well worn item of clothing that is still going strong!

Lastly, the soldiers piece is a simple and fairly cliché statement on the fact that its better to create and share than to destroy and conquer!

TheFableists: What are your thoughts on The Fableists? Do you think there should be more people doing what we are?

AP: I feel as though so many clothing manufacturers lack transparency, and this is because their manufacturing methods are probably exploitive or environmentally damaging. It’s refreshing to see a company that has a strong moral code and ethos and puts its money where its mouth is. And so transparent from the outset!

I would love to see more companies doing this kind of thing but I fear that greed and the pursuit of ever growing profits get in the way of ethics and quality. Maybe The Fableists will have a positive influence on the children’s clothing market!

TheFableists: If you could work for anyone, who would it be? Do you have a dream client?

AP: Always a hard question for me! And it changes all the time!

In a dream it would be a collaboration with Charles and Ray Eames and Geoff Mcfetridge, Creative Direction by Paul Arden and adapted into a movie by Wes Anderson.

In the real world I would like to get into working with animators for commercials and music videos, and would like to indulge my love of music by working on sleeve art and design. Though I am teaching myself after effects so who knows, maybe I will branch out into animation myself!

TheFableists: Do you have a particular client that keeps coming back?

AP: Okido Magazine have come back time after time, and I love working with Sophie Dauvois and Maggie Li. Plus as it’s a kids magazine I get to be a hero to my kids! I also work with Print Club London a lot and Unlimited Collective, and was recently at Pick Me Up with both organisations.

TheFableists: Are there any places in the world that make you feel creative?

AP: London fills my mind with ideas and colours and energy. I worked and lived there for many years and I felt I just fed off the energy, but it can be tiresome. Now I live on the East Sussex Coast where the Downs meet the sea and this has become my geographic muse!

TheFableists: If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

AP: The continual pursuit of greed and power. We have been sidetracked into caring about profits, returns and low overheads. Parents are being berated for choosing to be with their children instead of working 100 hour weeks to help fight in the worldwide economic warfare; governments are calling the poor scroungers…It’s a construct, a way of squeezing down labour costs and milking even more profit out of people. People need to switch off their phones, step outside, sit on a hill in the sunshine and remember that they are here to enjoy their 80 odd years as a conscious being, not as a worker drone!

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Sami Viljanto Tells us About His Designs for The Fableists’ Tees

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Helsinki, Finland native Sami Viljanto is one of the artists behind the limited edition t-shirt designs for The Fableists (see Sami’s collection here). We asked him a few questions about how these images came to be. We think that you’ll agree that Mr Viljanto is not only very talented but very, very silly.

Sami is represented for illustration work by Rare Bird London.

The Fableists > Tell us a bit about your background. Where did you start, where do you come from?

Sami > When I was six, I was captured by a two-eyed giant, who lived on top of a mountain, in a cottage made out of raccoon flavoured Digestive biscuits. The place had no television, so he made me draw imaginary Matlock stories over and over. Then one day I was able to eat myself out, but as a result I can’t stand the taste of Digestive biscuit, and haven’t eaten them ever again.

The Fableists > What or who inspires your day-to-day work?

Sami > I have a German pet fox called Heinrich, who’s been lately having a hard time finding a job – apparently because of the language barrier. So, I’ve promised to pay for his language school. It’s not entirely cheap and – between us – I must say he isn’t really showing much of progression, but what I really respect and what inspires me every day, is his courage and mental strength to keep on trying, no matter what the others say.

The Fableists > Would you say you draw every day?

Sami > I haven’t always been that wise, but I guess I’m slowly starting to learn the lesson. I try to start every morning with a cup of coffee and a page of mindless doodling. I keep on saying it’s because I want to be a better illustrator, but it’s probably just because the close-by coffee shop has such good coffees.

The Fableists > Where are we most likely to find your work? Is it mostly in the medium of advertising, magazine, print work, online or other?

Sami > I’d say 40% are editorials, 20% advertising, 20% print and 20% is so top secret even I don’t know what it consists of. Do those add up to 100%? I copy-pasted it straight from my excel sheet of statistics.

The Fableists > What were the inspirations behind the designs you created for us?

Sami > I’ve been really interested in tattoos for years, and been trying to bring something from that aesthetic to my illustrations. Since I might never be brave enough to actually start tattooing people, these Fableists designs might be the closest I’ll ever get to that. I guess the theme also represents the level of permanence that I wish our clothing and gadgets could have.

The Fableists > What’s your feeling about The Fableists? Do you think there should be more people doing what we are?

Sami > I think it’s exactly the right way to go. Actuall,y it makes me angry that it’s still a marginal choice to buy things that are made ethically and environmentally, whereas it should really be the only option available. Like those warning pictures in cigarette packs, there should be ones in your t-shirt, so you’d actually see the person who worked 16 hours a day for you to get that new jacket for 10 pounds, ‘cos you’re too lazy to wash the previous one.

The Fableists > If you could work for anyone, who would it be? Do you have a dream client?

Sami > Hmm. First one that comes to mind is Michel Gondry. I don’t really know what we would do, but he just feels like a person that would be really interesting to work with. Other than that, I like to work with whoever concentrates on the quality, not just getting it done and moving on. Oh and MacGyver! It’s so good to work with people who don’t complain about every obstacle that comes along the way, but rather just take it easy and solve the problem.

The Fableists > Do you have a particular client that keeps coming back?

Sami > I have a couple of local magazines that have been kind enough to keep commissioning me multiple times.

The Fableists > Are there any places in the world that make you feel creative?

Sami > I think what inspires me most is change. So it’s not really that much about the actual place, but the change in contrast to the previous one. Does this make any sense?

The Fableists > If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

Sami > I have to admit, that I wasn’t entirely honest in the first question, and must say that I regret lying to you guys straight up in the beginning. So, to change one thing, I would correct that, and like to state now, that I do still eat Digestive biscuits. Sorry about that. [It’s okay, Sami. You’re forgiven, Love The Fableists]

What do Rhino Poo, Passports and The Fableists Have in Common?

We might have to start at the beginning with this one…

The passports

The passports

Each item of clothing from The Fableists comes with its own ‘passport’. It’s not government issued, doesn’t scan at customs and doesn’t need to be renewed every few years but we think it’s still pretty important.

In the case of our t-shirts, the passport will be numbered as each print is only used on 500 t-shirts. So, like all great art, your tee from The Fableists will have it’s own print number out of 500. For all of our clothes, there is a space to record the names of its owners. So, as you pass the clothes on to family and friends, or sell them, this ‘passport’ will be a record of where the clothes have been – like stamps in a passport.

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Stacks of rhino dung paper for printing

Our passports are being printed by Seacourt, the ‘first closed loop, Zero Waste printing company in the world’. They have won an absolute stack of awards over their years for their commitment to green printing and have been recognised as ‘one of the top three leading environmental printers in the world’ by a worldwide printing association. They also have won two Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development. Very impressive stuff and also what all businesses should now be striving towards, right?

A tub of 'green' ink

A tub of ‘green’ ink

Seacourt can provide printing on recycled cards, bamboo, PVC-free banners for outdoor and materials are recyclable or even biodegradable. One of the paper options available to us was rhino poo and they pretty much had us at hello on that one. What child won’t treasure a clothing passport that contains poo of any sort? What adult for that matter? It was too good to pass up. The paper is made from post-consumer waste (i.e. the paper you put in your recycling bins) and mixed with rhino dung. We love it and will be bringing you more about the printing process (and where the poo comes in) in a future post.

 

 

 

 

We Talk to Michael Arnold as he Works on Tees for Our Next Collection

Work by Michael Arnold

Work by Michael Arnold

Michael Arnold is a self-taught designer and illustrator. At the tender age of 21, he has established a bold, iconic style that lends itself perfectly to the fashion industry. His patterns and colours are ideal for t-shirt art and will appeal to kids as well as adults.

Michael also writes a column for the Design & Culture site called The Fox is Black.

Michael Arnold is represented by George Grace Represents.picame largest header

The Fableists > Tell us a bit about how you got in to this crazy world of art and design.
MA > Well, I left school and initially wanted to get into Graphic Design. At that point I wasn’t interested in going to University and was just eager to get started so I set up a small print shop online called ‘The How To Project’ – the aim being I would teach myself along the way whilst finding my way into the industry. After a while I realized I much preferred creating the images themselves and made the move into Illustration. I picked up a few clients here and there and started to build up a portfolio and a style – I rather ambitiously started to contact agents which is where I met George who decided after some practice he would take me on.

The Fableists > What, or who are your influences?
MA > I have quite a lot of influences but it’s never one person wholly. My main influences are artists that work quite boldly like Julian Opie and Lichtenstein – Lichtenstein did a whole series of works later on that many people aren’t as aware of as his others and I love those ones. Current artists like Kevin Lyons and Kate Moross who have been able to translate their style into many different areas and ‘canvases’ are also a great inspiration to me.

Tommy TID WANT Les 2

The Fableists > Where do you live and do you take inspiration from those surroundings?
MA > I live near Cheltenham, near the River Severn (Gloucestershire, England). Generally I don’t take too much inspiration from my surroundings however these days there seems to be more of a creative vibe around here notably with the Cheltenham Design Festival which I went to during the Summer and the opening of the Cheltenham Art Museum which I’m definitely going to visit. Also, Bath Spa is quite near me and I often go to visit my sister there. They also have an awesome creative community round there.

The Fableists > What is your work process? Do you draw every day?
MA > My process is a difficult one to really nail down. It differs from project to project in terms of ideas but with illustrating it’s pretty much the same: I’ll take out my notebook and usually write the idea out rather than sketch anything, I may doodle some very rough (read: terrible) line drawings to put some shape to the words. Then I’ll take it straight to the laptop and begin blocking out shapes and colours at the same time, gradually refining and tidying and tightening areas up until I’m happy with it. For typography – that’s all hand drawn, scanned and then redrawn digitally in the same manner as my other work.

I do draw every day. I have quite a backlog of ideas already in my head so whenever I have a free moment I begin on one of those. I think it’s important to draw or design every day, I’m of the mind set that it’s similar to being a sports player – you have to practice to build up that fluency and confidence if not just for your hands then for your ability to visualise things. Malcolm Gladwell once wrote a book about having 10,000 hours of practice to be considered a master at anything – so that’s what I’m aiming for.

Michael Arnold's First Design for The Fableists

Michael Arnold’s First Design for The Fableists

The Fableists > Your designs for The Fableists are already proving very popular with our team. What was the inspiration behind them?

MA > Well, after being given the new tagline which is ‘Play Hard, Live Forever’ it made me think of that ‘Live Fast’ phrase that was associated with bikers and rebellious youth! I played around with the type first as I knew that I wanted the ‘Live Forever’ part to be illustrated in a script like style – the kind you might see on a biker patch. From that it sort of clicked and the image of a biker with a Wind-Up key came to mind, the idea then leant itself to series with other wind-up toys that could be illustrated in the same manner.

The trickiest part was creating the humour in it, balancing out the reality of the motorbike being a child’s toy with the fantasy of it riding into the sunset. It was as much for the children to enjoy as it was for their parents to appreciate. A throw back if you will!

The Fableists > Which is your favourite t-shirt from The Fableists’ first collection and why?
MA > I really like Crispin Finn’s Dress Good design, it’s one of those ideas that’s so simple and makes you jealous you didn’t think of it. In terms of design I feel it’s strong enough to stand on it’s own but subtle enough to be able to work with the other collared shirts and clothes you have to offer.

The Fableists > What do you think about The Fableists’ mission to make sustainable clothing for kids?
MA > I think it’s great. There are so few interesting companies that involve the kids themselves in the ideals of the company. Most children aren’t aware of how their clothes are made and the brands that try to educate them often come out as preaching to them – and in most cases in a way the kids won’t understand. I think there’s a fine line between creating something that will make kids aware whilst making something they will wear. That was quite pithy! I think you’ve nailed it.

I love the Look Book you’ve shot as well. It captures the mission perfectly, I think!opumo 2 small800

The Fableists > How do you hope that kids will see your t-shirt designs?
MA > I hope they’ll see it how I see it – as an image that gets their imagination going. When illustrating it I tried to strike that balance of how a child would see those toys in their imagination – the bike with the sunset cruising down the highway but at the same time not taking it too seriously. I hope they’ll get a feel of wanting to go on adventures with it on.

The Fableists > Can you tell us about one of your favourite pieces of work you’ve done? What was it for and what was it?
MA > My favourite piece so far was a pattern I designed for shoe company Bucketfeet. It’s finally going into production this spring and I’ve been able to see some product shots of the samples they had made it looks amazing. As an illustrator the best thing in the world is seeing something you’ve made on a screen become physical. Getting a shoe made was one of my dream jobs and I’ve been able to cross that off a lot sooner than I imagined.

cara 700

Meet Herbal fab, Purveyor of Sustainable Fabrics

Kunal

Mr Kunal Balar, Co-Owner of Herbal fab

Herbal fab offer sustainable textiles and eco-friendly dying to the garment industry. They are located in Ahmedabad, India. They are providing GOTS certified denim and chambray for The Fableists’ first range of clothing.

We spoke to co-owner Mr Kunal Balar.

The Fableists > Tell us a bit about what Herbal Fab do.

Mr. Kunal Balar > Herbal fab is mostly about promoting anything which is Organic or sustainable related to textiles and clothing. Visiting our website www.herbalfab.com will brief on the fabrics we are trying to promote, dyeing techniques we follow and custom clothing service we provide for baby to adult.

The Fableists > When did you start and what inspired you to start the company?

Mr. Kunal Balar > It is difficult to say when we started exactly. In 2007 we began researching and trying to actually understand the Organic Textile field and dyeing techniques associated. We started about a year and a half after that.

We are from a well-established, family-owned textile business that has been selling conventional shirting fabrics for men and kids in the Indian market for over 40 years.

Herbal Fab is run by two brothers Mr Prashant Balar and Mr Kunal Bala. We are both electronic engineers and started our careers in the Electronics and IT Industries but left them soon to find a more satisfying path in life and joined our family business.
But seeing the unrepairable damage done by the hazardous chemicals used at each stage of conventional textile processing we wanted to make a change – have an impact. This vision led to the birth of Herbal fab.

herbal fab 2The Fableists > Why organic?

Mr. Kunal Balar > There will be nothing left for the generations to come if we are not sustainable in what we do and a simple rule to be sustainable is to give back to nature what you take from it in the same form; if that is not possible then in a form that is still useful or at least not harmful.

There are many factors involved in opting for Organic cotton. Organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.

Organic cotton is grown without using pesticides from plants which are not genetically modified. Some other aspects of organic cotton growing:
• Organic cotton growing method protects the groundwater quality, reduces insects and disease by manipulating the ecosystem.
• Organic cotton growers prevent pests through beneficial habitat planting. It eliminates the usage of toxic chemicals that are normally used for manufacturing conventional cotton.
• Organic cotton crops yield higher organic matter, thicker topsoil, lowers modulus rupture, thus reducing soil erosion.

Benefits from the environmental point of view:
• Carbon footprint: One acre of organic cotton instead of an acre of conventional cotton reduces CO2 release by two tones a year.
• Conventional Cotton, which is planted on less than 3% of the world’s arable land, uses around 25% of the world’s insecticides and more than 10% of the world’s pesticides.
• 1/3 pound of agricultural chemicals is typically used in the production of a single cotton T-shirt.
• World Health Organization estimates that every year pesticides poison at least three million people and kills 20-40,000 people.
• Health hazard: According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton crops are potential or known human carcinogens. Among these pesticides are Cyanide, Dicofol, Naled, Propargite and Trifularin, which are known cancer-causing chemicals.
• In 1995, pesticide-contaminated runoff from cotton fields in Alabama killed 240,000 fish, and currently, it is estimated that pesticides unintentionally kill 67 million birds each year.

And from the farmers’ point of view:
• Spiral of debt: Pests build up resistance to chemicals, farmer borrows money to buy more chemicals than before, farmer gets less profit from crop, repeat until farmer is destitute. In parts of India agricultural chemicals take up 60% of the farmer’s production budget. In Maharashtra alone, the government estimates that over 1,000 farmers have committed suicide since 2001 because they were irrevocably in debt.
• Most pests develop immunity to these products in 5-6 years, forcing companies to develop stronger chemicals. All these chemicals endanger the farmers and their families’ lives on a daily basis and could potentially be a hazard for all human beings using cotton products (esp the farmers who handle them day-in and day-out) as they contain trace toxins which are never eliminated.

herbal fab

The Fableists > Please tell us about the certification you have attained?

Mr. Kunal Balar > We are certified by Onecert for GOTS.

The Fableists > Do you work directly with farmers to buy the cotton you use?

Mr. Kunal Balar > No we are not involved in cotton growing. We are indirectly associated with the farmers but we work with the weavers and spinners.

The Fableists > How is your dying process eco-friendly? What sorts of dyes do you use?

Mr. Kunal Balar > We at Herbal Fab provide fabrics in two types of processed form:

GOTS Approved Natural Dyeing (Some also refer this as vegetable dyeing or herbal Dyeing): We have expertise in dying/printing with flowers, roots, fruits, etc., like turmeric, onion, myraballams, madder, kesu flowers, dhavadi flowers, natural indigo and more.

This not only prevents water pollution due to replacement of petrochemical dyes with vegetable dyes/natural dyes but also imparts medicinal value to cloth as many herbs used for dyeing have high medicinal value. This is not a new-found process; it was a common practice in ancient India. It is historically done by hand and on small scale. We at Herbal fab are just trying to revive the age old dyeing practice followed by our ancestors.

GOTS low Impact Dyeing: GOTS Low impact dyeing printing is the processing with low impact dyes as followed world over under GOTS standard.

herbal fab 1The Fableists > Apart from cotton, which other textiles do you produce?

Mr. Kunal Balar > Apart from organic cotton, we promote KHADI (handspun and Handwoven) fabric, handloom fabrics, Peace silk , wood-based fibres.

The Fableists > What are Herbal Fab’s goals for the future?

Mr. Kunal Balar > We feel about 80% of people who are in this Organic field are small (Designers , Clothing start ups, etc) who are wanting to do something good but are not able to because of the high minimum order quantifies associated and other difficulties of sourcing/sewing in this already niche organic market. Our aim is to reach out to as many such individuals/companies as possible meeting their fabric/clothing needs through our set ups/experience/contacts. We believe that if many of these individuals/companies were able to pass this initial hurdle , we would no longer have this organic field labeled as “niche”.

The Fableists > What is your primary market? Who buys your product?

Mr. Kunal Balar > Our primary market is designers , wholesale/retail fabric companies , private brand/clothing companies looking for custom clothing as per specification.

The Fableists > Tell us about the denim that you are making for The Fableists.

Mr. Kunal Balar > The denim is made under a reputed set up in the world of denim making.

All dyes and chemicals used are checked and agreed against RSL. ETP plant and the water discharged is per Government Pollution Board norms. Also the, fabric is made as per GOTS STANDARD.

The Organic cotton is coming from the Vidarbha region in Akola. It encompasses approximately 27,000 acres of farmland employing nearly 3,700 farmers. All the organic cotton produced at these organic farms is certified by the Control Union Certification, Netherlands. We have the Organic cotton coming from Madhya Pradesh region also.

The Fableists > Have you seen an increase in sales recently? Are more people buying organic textiles?

Mr. Kunal Balar > Yes, definitely there is an increase from when we started off but it is more in Europe and USA with Australia catching up. But, in India it is still difficult to convince people on this.

Presenting Steve Scott, Whose Designs will Feature on The Fableists’ T-Shirts

Illustrator Steve Scott

Illustrator Steve Scott

Steve Scott is pixel pusher with a Wacom tablet and a master at mixing up fresh, contemporary image making with a nod to the retro. He is famous for his stylised characters of all shapes and forms, gaining a reputable clientele including Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Volvo, Led Zeppelin, Channel 4 and Wired Magazine. Get this – he has featured in the New York Guggenheim Museum and the Pictoplasma Festival in Berlin. Often abstract and stylised he can create a character or a scene which lingers in an inspiring way. Steve Scott is represented by Jelly London.

The Fableists > Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got in to illustration

Steve > I lived in Australia for half my life and moved away at 16. I landed in illustration by accident. I started doing music videos and it led on from there. I was in a band and did my own music video, quit my job to do it and this is how it all started happening. Because I had an illustrative style, a lot of people liked it. I started a studio in Australia and that is kind of how I got a career going.

The Fableists > Was that studio for commercials?

Steve > Mainly music videos for bands; low budget stuff. It was a different style from what I do now. I think of animation as different from illustration. With illustration I try to keep a style and keep it quite tight. With animation, it is more about what the job needs and I try to adapt styles. We did a lot of animation that is really psychedelic – some that is rotoscoping. I did this band in 2003 – they were the biggest grunge band in Australia at the time: Silver Chair. The money was terrible, and that is when I thought, this is the height of what I am going to get here and that was when I went into illustration.

The Fableists > Where does most your work end up? Is it mostly moving pictures?

Steve > A lot of drawing and 70% animation. But hard to say. If I’m not animating I am usually drawing!

The Fabeists > What inspires your day to day work?

Steve > You are constantly having to re-inspire yourself. I give myself little projects, for example last year I spent a lot of time in Soho (London). There are cool buildings and I gave myself a project of drawing these buildings and then I wanted to add magic things to them. Soho, to me, is quite mysterious and has a history, so I started drawing these buildings and putting in weird parades and then buildings with people in the windows and strange bird creatures. I mainly focus on characters and creatures, odd and weird people.

Matt > What were the inspirations behind the pictures you did for us?

Steve > I wasn’t sure what the brief was, but I knew it was about attitude and so I went round and came out with loads of ideas and wasn’t sure what worked. I also have two budgies, and they fly around and make a lot of noise. I love them if you walk past my lounge you can hear them outside on the street.

Matt > Your work has a certain look…

Steve > I guess what I really wanted was strong colour and pop colours. I always really liked 50s and 60s stuff, so I tend to kind of go that way. My influences are old cartoons – I grew up on comics. I have this great collection from Italy of old Mickey Mouse comics in the 30s and 40s style. I have been doing a lot of things like this recently. I did this whole thing of sketches of hillbillies with big baggy pants and guitars – I have this thing about guitars, I don’t even play guitar. The hillbilly with his banjo, but with a really heavy metal part to it also.

Matt > What do you feel about what we are doing, our message?

Steve > Especially now-a-days, there is so much that is overproduced. In terms of living in a sustainable way, that is really important for us now and for the planet. You can see in the last 4-5 years, people have started questioning this rampant consumption. The idea of maximizing profit is unhealthy.

Matt > If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?

Steve > So many things, aren’t there? I guess I would get rid of a few dictators, probably.

Some of Steve Scott's Work for The Fableists

Some of Steve Scott’s Work for The Fableists

May We Introduce Indian Organic Farming Collective Chetna Organic

Ayan Banerjee, CEO of Chetnna Organic

Ayan Banerjee, CEO of Chetnna Organic

Chetna Organic is working with small and marginal farmers in India in order to improve their livelihood options and by making farming a sustainable and profitable occupation. Chetna’s strength has been collective action and the fair supply chain. Chetna Organic Agriculture Producer Company Ltd (COAPCL) is the name of the 100% farmer-owned producer company. Some of The Fableists’ clothing is made from cotton grown by farmers who are a part of this collective.

We spoke to Ayan Banerjee, CEO of Chetna

The Fableists > Tell us how Chetna was started and what inspired you to form a collective? 

Ayan > The Chetna Organic & Fair Trade Cotton Intervention Program (OCIP) was established in 2004 as a supply chain initiative in organic cotton that works towards improving livelihood of farmers. The intent was to improve livelihood options of smallholder farmers by making their farm systems more sustainable, profitable and creating access to ethical and fair-trade markets in cotton. Chetna Organics or Chetna Organic Agriculture Producer Company Ltd India (COAPCL) has made clusters of organic cotton farmers from 2005. Established in 2009, Chetna Organic Agriculture Producer Company Ltd (COAPCL) is a 100% farmer-owned Company, professionally managed and backed by venture philanthropy so as to empower farmers by engaging them to build an ethical supply chain.

The Fableists > Where are you based and why are you active in that region?

Ayan > We work in the highly underdeveloped areas of Maharashtra (Vidarbha – Amravati, Akola, and Yavatmal), Andhra Pradesh (Telengana – Adilabad, Karimnagar) and Odisha (KBK region i.e. Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput). Most of the districts are rated as some of the country’s 250 most backward districts. We are present in that region to improve the livelihood (options) of small farm holding households in India through making their farming systems more sustainable and more profitable.

The Fableists > How many farmers are now part of your collective and how do they benefit?

Ayan > Currently we are working with 15,000+ farmers across the areas mentioned.
The benefits they are provided are:

  • Premium: Organic cotton generally would receive a premium over and above the market price. This premium is very important for a small farmer whose income is just sufficient to feed his/her family with one meal;
  • Low investment: Organic farming normally does not involve capital investment as high as that required in chemical farming. Agriculture greatly depends on external factors such as climate, pests, disease. Further, most of the small farmers are dependent on natural rain for water, as they are based in far off tribal areas. Therefore in cases of natural calamity, pest or disease attack, and irregular rainfall, when there is a crop failure, small farmers practicing organic farming have to suffer less as their investments are low;
  • High return on investment: Compared to BT (conventional) there is a high Return on Investment for farmers, thereby creating social impact;
  • Traditional knowledge: Small farmers have abundance of traditional knowledge with them and within their community. Most of this traditional knowledge cannot be used for chemical farming. However, when it comes to organic farming, the farmers can make use of the traditional knowledge;
  • Create community owned and managed assets: The money which is received as Fairtrade premium is used for creating assets for the farmer groups and cooperatives towards local institution building, thereby fulfilling the “Gandhian concept of local Self-Sustainability”. The farmers of our various cooperatives in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Odhisa have built a storage warehouse with 560 MT capacity and Water Treatment plant at Karimnagar in Andhra Pradesh, Bio Fertilizer unit at Amravati in Maharashtra, Dal processing unit/5 MT/Per day and purchased a tractor at Akola in Maharashtra, Rice processing unit at Golamunda in Odhisa and Dal processing unit/5 MT/Per day at Bhawanipatna in Odhisa.

The Fableists > Are there a lot of farming collectives in your region now? If so, do you work together?

Ayan > Yes. There are a lot of farming collectives in the region compared to 10 years ago. We do work with some but not all because there are some activities that are done with the use of chemicals and pesticides, which will deviate from our major environment objective of being organic.

The Fableists > Apart from cotton, are any other crops grown by your collective? What are they used for?

Ayan > Yes, they also grow pulses, soya bean, millets, etc. It is used for self consumption as well as for commercial purpose.

The Fableists > Where and to whom do your collective crops mostly get sold?

Ayan > The products are sold domestically as well as internationally in Europe and Japan. Some of our buyers are Fellisimo, Rajalakshmi, Armstrong, C&A, Jackpot, H&M, Marks and Spencers, Sainsburys, and more.

The Fableists > Why organic?

Ayan > It is the belief of the organic farming community that organic farming minimizes the need for chemical inputs thereby limiting damage to health and the environment. It is a more sustainable method of farming than conventional techniques and biodiversity is promoted. Intensive farming is said to destroy the fertility of the land but with organic farming and sustainable crop rotations, soil health is improved. However, weed control is carried out mainly by mechanical cultivation methods thereby disrupting the soil structure, releasing carbon into the atmosphere, removing valuable moisture and increasing soil erosion.

There is a potential in organic farming to create systems that give farm animals good welfare, and current research does not contradict this. However, there are some dilemmas caused by the underlying philosophy, and these must be recognized and discussed so that solutions can be found which promote animal welfare within the given framework. At the same time, the organic approach can open up for new ways of thinking and for innovative solutions. Organic farmers must take animal welfare issues seriously.
Organic farming is substantially based in eco-centric ethics, and the overall goal is to create sustainable agro ecosystems. However, animal welfare has, from the start, been an important goal and animal welfare concerns in organic farming can be supported by the underlying philosophy.

The Fableists > Tell us about the certification you have received.

Ayan > We are certified by 3 agencies:

  • Control Union (CU)-For being organic
  • Aditi-For being organic
  • FloCert-For being Fairtrade (FT)

The Fableists > How have the prices your farmers are receiving for their crops changed since you were founded (in 2004)?

Ayan > They never knew the benefits of doing organic farming. Once they started to do it; they realized that they would receive a premium for the products produced by them. It has become guaranteed for them that they will receive a higher price … and also the MSP (Minimum Support Price).

The Fableists > What are Chetna’s goals and objectives over the next 5 years?

Ayan >

Goal: To improve the livelihood options of Indian small farm holding households (we are working with about 40,000+ farmers not all engaged in organic cotton value chain); we hope to touch 100,000 farmers through making their farming systems more sustainable and more profitable.

Objectives over the next 5 years: Procurement, processing and marketing of 2500 tonnes of organic and fair trade certified cotton lint, produced by around 12,000 small and marginal tribal farmers. This is expected to translate into a total business value of approximately INR 20 Cr. Procurement and processing of 1000 tonnes of various food crops (e.g. Soya, pulses, rice etc.) – in partnership with the local cooperatives, is expected to generate revenue of approximately INR 3 Cr.

Establishment of related community owned infrastructure (through part financial contribution from the community) at co-operative level that supports the farmer’s business activity. Infrastructure envisaged are Dal Mill in Adilabad (for pulses processing), Vegetables grading and transport facility in Karimnagar, Bio fertilizer production facility (to support organic farming), shade nets and green houses etc.

The Fableists > And how about for the long term?
Ayan >

  • To demonstrate an ecologically and socially sustainable delivery model for poverty elevation through development of an organic and ethical supply chain.
  • Empowerment of farmers through prompting collective decision making, appropriate training and promoting greater participation in food and garment supply chains by moving up the value chain.
  • Consumer education and sensitizing of supply chain constituents towards creation of an ecologically safe and socially sustainable market system which is a win-win for all.
  • To achieve operational and financial self sufficiency of COAPCL through business operations

The Fableists > Has the suicide rate amongst farmers struggling with the cycle of debt in the areas that Chetna works decreased as a result of your effort?

Ayan > The suicide rate has decreased gradually in the areas where Chetna is working. It is important that the farmers are given necessary support that they require to become sustainable and to mitigate risk under different circumstances.

The Fableists > Is collective farming the future for farming in India? Can the smallholder survive on its own anymore?

Ayan > The smallholder farmer would be able to survive on its own only if he is not exploited and fetches the ‘right’ (not economically, with asymmetric bargaining powers, but (fair) price if offered in the market. But it is unlikely to happen in India. Therefore, collective farming is looking like the future for farming in India to get the ‘right’ price for the farmers for their produce. It also becomes easier for the farmers to raise finance for themselves through collective farming.

Illustrator Greg Abbott Talks Shop as We Unveil His T-Shirt Designs

Greg Abbott's Work

Greg Abbott’s Work

Greg Abbott is an illustrator and designer currently based in West Sussex, UK. His bold characters and striking typography have previously been featured on projects for Warner Music Group, EMI and Fueled by Ramen.

Greg is represented for illustration work by YCN Talent Agency, London.

The Fableists > Have you always worked in illustration? How did you get your start?

Greg > Yes. Although I work in a number of different fields, since working full time, the majority of commission projects I have received have been related to illustration. I first started by offering web design and development services over the internet when I was in high school: I had taught myself the basics of a few code languages a few years before and enjoyed web design but didn’t have any projects to work on. At around the same time, I discovered Apple computers and since then have been an enthusiast. Subsequently I found an interest in design, typography and illustrating digitally. As I figured out and made the most of trial versions of Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Flash and other applications, I posted the results online for fun. This eventually lead to illustration project enquiries. Until that point, I hadn’t considered that there might be interest in my illustration work. As I was interested in creative projects of all kinds, I accepted and took on all projects that I was lucky enough to be offered and given the opportunity to work on. A few years later I was receiving enough creative work to be self-employed.

The Fableists > Tell us about some of the work you’ve done that you are most proud of.

Greg > I’m quite pleased with my most recent children’s picture book, written and illustrated as a self-initiated personal project, it hasn’t been released yet. I’m normally most excited by creative projects that are outside of the areas I usually get to work in. I’m interested in a wide variety of project types and very enthusiastic to experiment in different areas. I quite like the toy design projects I have worked on as they cover a wide range of areas: from character and 3D design for the toy to net design, print design for the packaging and branding and marketing for the product.

The Fableists > Do you begin by drawing by hand? Tell us about your process.

Greg > Yes. I create and develop illustrative work by hand with the use of: a Mac, a Wacom Cintiq 12WX graphics tablet and various design software. My workflow for drawing makes use of both hands, right for drawing, and left for keyboard shortcuts. I select software based on the type or the stage of project. (e.g. Corel Painter for sketching, inking and textures; Adobe Illustrator for linework, layout and colouring). My process for drawing projects is: sketch, revise, develop and colour. For personal pieces, the sketch encompasses all of the details and establishes the composition of the design. The revision stage is for commission projects and allows client feedback to be incorporated. Once the sketch is finalised, it is developed to be a vector; at this stage the style and technique of the piece is defined and executed. Colouring is the last part of the design and makes the biggest impact. After that, if the work is for print, I create a colour-separated print ready file to be delivered to the client or printer.

The Fableists > What or who are your biggest influences?

Greg > Everything and everyone but also nothing and no one in particular.

The Fableists > Does your work have a typical look?

Greg > Yes. Whilst I have a few different collections of illustrative work (vector / pencil / inked), each collection generally shares an overall look. My personal work tends to have a friendly feel and a fairly consistent use of colour, I favour a limited and muted colour palette.

The Fableists > Do you draw every day?

Greg > No.

The Fableists > Where do you find your inspiration day to day?

Greg > Although I’m not inspired every day, when I have an idea, it’s usually the result of my imagination finding amusement or interest in something ordinary. If I hear or read a turn of phrase, or observe something noteworthy, I might enjoy it as it is and want to do something with it, or it might lead me to think about or visualise something related that I find more enjoyable and want to capture. Quite a large number of my illustrations are from things I might see in the remaining shape of a half-eaten piece of toast.

The Fableists > Is most of your work for print? Or do you do work for film/TV, online or any other media?

Greg > Yes. Most of my commissioned illustration work is for merchandise and physical products (clothing and art prints). I would love to work with film or TV but haven’t yet although I was excited to spot one of my designs on Britain’s Got Talent yesterday. When I’m not illustrating I enjoy anything else productive or creative including: user interface design, web design, coding, scripting, furniture design, editing videos, writing stories and playing instruments. In my spare time I work on personal projects and like to teach myself how to do things that take my interest.

The Fableists > Which client would you most like to collaborate with?

Greg > 

– Illustration: a children’s book publisher.
– Design: Apple.
– Furniture design: Ikea.

The Fableists > Our limited edition t-shirts will be wearable art. What do you think about seeing kids emblazoned with your work?

Greg > It’s lovely, exciting, rewarding and encouraging!

Greg Abbott's Work

Greg Abbott’s Work

Meet Crispin Finn, Who Have Designed a Range of T-Shirts for The Fableists

Crispin Finn's Studio

Crispin Finn’s Studio

Crispin Finn have designed a series of t-shirts for The Fableists’ launch. These t-shirts will not be mass produced, so you will have to be quick once they become available! You will be able to buy them from The Fableists by July 2013.

Crispin Finn are a design duo that produces everything in red, white and blue. To see more of their work, check out their web site.

TheFableists > Tell us a bit about your background. Where did you start? Where do you come from?

CF > Crispin Finn is actually two people – Anna and Roger. Although we came from different creative backgrounds (Anna from Graphic design, Roger from Fine Art), we had many crossovers of interests and influences – vernacular design, functional but elegant ephemera, hand painted sign writing…that sort of thing. So, on evenings and weekends we started making things together. This was around 2008, and the first thing we made was our screen printed 2009 year planner, which was born out of a lack of functional but attractive ones for our own use.

The pseudonym Crispin Finn came from combining Roger’s middle name (Crispin) with Anna’s then nickname, Finn (long story). We liked the way they sounded together and the idea of an autonomous identity. Anna is originally from Salford, Roger from Leicestershire, and we both live and work in London.

TheFableists > What, or who, inspires your day-to-day work?

CF > This is a long, and probably endless list but to name a few constants: David Gentleman, Tom Eckersley, Eduaordo Paolozzi, A.M. Cassandre, Steve Powers/ ESPO, Eric Ravilious, Alex Steinweiss, Charles Burns, Milton Glaser, Bob Gill, Paul Rand, Alan Fletcher, Herb Lubalin, Sophie Calle, Matthew Brannon, Gerd Arntz, Lee (Alexander) McQueen, Margaret Calvert, Chris Ware, Stanley Kubrick & Phyllis Pearsall.

TheFableists > Would you say you draw every day?

CF > In some form or another – yes, either on the computer or sketching out ideas. Roger tends to work with a pen and paper, Anna directly on the computer.

TheFableists > Where are we most likely to find your work? Is it mostly in the medium of advertising, magazine, print work, online, or other?

CF > We started making things for ourselves, either in screen print or physical form and then started commercial work just over a year ago. So we guess it’s found across the two. We’ve not done so much editorial work but we love magazines and publishing so hopefully we’ll build on this area too.

TheFableists > What was the inspiration behind the designs you created for us?

CF > We loved the ethos behind The Fableists’ [idea] of creating a small but really good strong classic range of clothes for kids almost like an all seasons uniform, and felt it rung true with that of old denim work wear. We started to look at some of the older labels and liked how rhyming descriptions were often used to reiterate the qualities and connect with the customer. The idea that a phrase could be read more than one way also felt like a nice fit with a range that could be worn in summer or winter, and be handed on to different owners.

TheFableists > What are your thoughts on The Fableists? Do you think there should be more people doing what we are doing?

CF > We really love the fact that The Fableists are encouraging and communicating to both kids and parents about the ethos and manufacturing processes behind the clothes they are producing. Not sure about more people, but rather getting existing companies to look at the way their current lines are made. Less is definitely more.

TheFableists > If you could work for anyone, who would it be? Do you have a dream client?

CF > So many, but to name a couple off the tops of our heads: Royal Mail and The London Underground. We love British institutions that have a history of supporting the arts, and a long line of exceptional artists that they have worked with and promoted.

TheFableists > Do you have a particular client that keeps coming back?

CF > Hopefully, The Fableists!

TheFableists > Are there any places in the world that make you feel creative?

CF > Rather than just one place, we find travel in general very inspirational. We don’t think there has been a place we’ve visited that hasn’t encouraged new ideas and isn’t full of unique cultural surprises and identities. Also, we tend to get itchy feet and a desire to get back to work if we are away for too long which is always a good thing – to try to bring back that energy to the studio.

TheFableists > If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

CF > One of the reasons we were excited to work with The Fableists was the way in which you’re not only carefully sourcing a good, sustainable, ethical range of products, but also communicating and demonstrating that it is possible to your audience. That the journey of the item is as important as the desirability of the item. To make it such a visible part of the process and “message” is so important, and maybe highlights that we could all do with spending a little more time considering not only if we “want” something, but how that thing came to be, who made it, where, and what will happen to it once we’ve finished with it.

The first view of the Crispin Finn designed t-shirts will be posted later today. Here is a sneak peek:

'Made to Wear Well' by Crispin Finn for The Fableists

‘Made to Wear Well’ by Crispin Finn for The Fableists