The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?
Rosie Bowker: Rosie Bowker, 32, Stylist, Self-Employed
TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
RB: Collaging. Seeing what clothes are out there on different kinds of bodies. Seeing what people wear, what they choose for themselves. Snooping around in thrift stores and fabric stores and doing a lot of textile-gazing.
TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
RB: I feel that my career really supports the continued balance of personal and professional work. On the professional side, I’m challenged to refine my technical skills, develop partnerships, engage in brand research, to do plenty of thinking about fashion and what it means today, and streamline my business processes to make things as easy as possible for my clients. On the personal side, having the freedom to execute my own creative projects is essential for generating and processing new ideas, which will then (hopefully) go into my book, up on my site, and lead to new opportunities professionally. It’s sort of a wonderful circle.
TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
RB: My favorite times of day are the beginning and the end. The most productive time is in the morning, 7 to about 10 am. If I’m working from home I’ll drink a whole pot of French press coffee and investigate visual inspiration for as long as I have time. Then dive into emails, work on moodboards for projects, or take phone calls. I get a little restless around 11 am and usually have to leave the house and get other things done. If it's a shoot day, then I'm usually on my feet styling dawn to dark.
At the end of the day is when I feel most creative. My favorite thing to do, if I have a night off alone, is to make a drink, put on some records (current favorites are the Young, Gifted & Black album by Aretha Franklin and everything in the DJ Rogers canon), rip images from magazines, and collage until late at night. It’s a very private exercise and isn’t meaningful to anyone except myself. So much of my job takes place in the vicinity of others, often in a time crunch, as a joint effort with other creatives. That collaborative way of working is very good for me, as I’m a natural introvert. But time alone, cutting and gluing images together, is when I feel most creatively free.
TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?
RB: I love styling and the places it takes me, but I would also like to push myself to try my hand at other creative disciplines. I think I’d especially like to fuck around with a video camera (does anyone even call them that anymore?) and see if anything interesting happens.
TCU: Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
RB: One of my favorite quotes is from the brilliant, controversial, and opinionated Italian artist and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini. In one of his films there’s a Renaissance painter character who’s in the middle of creating a huge fresco and (as I remember it) says aloud to himself, “Why create a work of art when dreaming it is so much better?” and… wow. That hit me like an earthquake. It’s so true! The projects, the art that you imagine in your head are always light years better than what you can possibly bring to life with your hands. I suppose one might call that the agony and the ecstasy of being a creative, to call to mind another great Renaissance artist. The above quote is also very freeing to me because it encourages engaging in flights of fancy that might never materialize.
I love maps and geography, and I often become fascinated with a place, visiting it, and paying homage to it in my work in some way. In the past I’ve been equally obsessed with visiting the ghost towns of eastern Washington (lots of abandoned mines and wheat fields and spooky stillness) and the island of Socotra off the coast of Yemen (stony mountains, plants with names like the Dragon’s Blood Tree, and desolate beaches covered in green crabs and dolphin carcasses). Both of those experiences were equally magical and informed my work. Right now I’m developing a plan to visit an abandoned hotel on an island in the Adriatic. It was built in 1972, was a resort behind the Iron Curtain in the 1970s and 1980s, then abandoned when Yugoslavia broke up in the early 1990s. The architecture is spectacular and kids go there and spray graffiti all over the place. I’m scared that it will be demolished before I can see it myself.
I’m also making a zine for the first time since I was about 14. My friends and I made black and white photocopied zines as adolescents and that was an extraordinary creative outlet for me; I think it has always resonated with me since you get to control an entire world cover to cover, just like you do in a photoshoot. So far this project is still in development, with some notes scribbled down in a file folder. It’s going to be all about one’s private life and the things you do and think about that you normally wouldn’t go public with: the recipes you make alone and would never dream of feeding anyone else; an essay on the many pleasures and myriad discomforts of life alone; drawings of fantasy Halloween costumes; shameful crushes that you’re embarrassed to admit to. (I got this idea from an article New York Magazine once did for Valentine’s Day: chicks wrote in and explained why they had crushes on people like the polluting oil monster from Fern Gully, or Ross Ulbricht, the convicted Silk Road mastermind.) I want to title the zine something mildly evocative of an 80s soft-core film, like Private Desires; or maybe something more out-there, like In Flagrante Delicto. The Latin literally translates to ‘in blazing offense’ but colloquially means ‘caught in the act’, which I like because it speaks of some voyeuristic and vulnerable quality.
TCU: What scares you?
RB: I used to be terrified of confrontation and people, especially friends and family, calling me out or getting angry with me because I have a tendency to clam up instead of saying what I think. But I’m working on being honest regarding my own feelings as I get older. Arguments aren’t so scary anymore. I also developed an almost completely irrational fear of botulism after watching the horrifying film Dead Calm. I couldn’t open a can of tuna for years due to that film.
TCU: What does success mean to you?
RB: Being able to support yourself doing what you love. I also must agree with Teresa Grasseschi, your recent interviewee, who says that success is ultimately growth and expansion. That is absolutely true.
TCU: Anything else you want to add?
RB: There are always various projects, some of them bizarre and kooky, kicking around in my head. I fantasize about art directing and styling a pinup calendar, a la the glory days of Pirelli, where they merged playful sex and bodies and modern design. I’d like to figure out a way to create a niche paper product like that in these days of iCalendar and Googlecal, and to make it a lovely, useful, and covetable desk object.
If you want to catch more of Rosies's amazing work, head over to her Instagram @rosiebowker