Sunday, June 7, 2020

COVID 19 Interview with VCC Fashion Production and Design Program Grad, Shadi Arasteh Manesh

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Last February, I attended the fabulous VCC Fundraiser Gala, FLOURISH. This is an annual event for which the top Culinary Alumni cater and all of the programs are there, with students showing off their  expertise to bring in the money that keeps the College, flourishing, growing and really providing an oasis of services at both campuses. The theme colour is green and attendees wear it. When I go to visit VCC, I am usually there about Spa, Jewellery, Food and Fashion. I am in awe of the vast array of services and courses, and often do interviews, before events, especially for Vancouver Fashion Week. Of course I did meet Sarah Murray, Fashion Program Coordinator and Continuing Studies Marketing Liaison, at FLOURISH, and she showed me the Illustration Competition. In keeping with the theme, Flourish, students were invited to draw an illustration around the words green and circle. The illustrations were sold in sets of gorgeous cards as well as being sold individually in the Silent Auction. Long time attendees are determined and know exactly when to bid to win, but I managed to land Shadi's beautiful illustration, which I call 'Lady of the Flowers'. It is framed and is on a wall that I look at every day. I love the life in this illustration: the windblown hair is so natural and the colours, particularly those royal purples and brilliant gold yellows of the dress and flowers, over the green background, draw me closer. I contacted Shadi for an email interview and, because she is working during this time of social isolation, she was happy to send along her reflections and her extraordinary illustrations. Thank you, Shadi for bringing light and inspiration to our readers. Thank you also, to Marilyn R Wilson who began her COVID Series on her blog: Olio by Marilyn. One more, a big one to Nancy Nesbitt, Interim Executive Director, VCC Foundation and Co-Chair of the FLOURISH GALA, who made sure Shadi's illustration was delivered right to my hands. She was there to thank me, too. Excellence and commitment from everyone! By the way, Nancy designed her own red carpet ready gorgeous green dress and also did an illustration for it. VCC-the place to be. Fundraising for students: the benefits are obvious! Shine on, Shadi Arasteh Manesh.

Please Tell us about your work, school, Art, how long have you been doing this? 

I am Shadi Arastehmanesh a start up fashion designer based in Vancouver and originally from Iran. I remember when I was child, I made a game related to fashion design. I drew different pieces of garments such as skirt, top, pants, dress etc, and I asked my family and friends to pick one of each and make a new look and I drew the new style for them again. I’ve been always connected to art and design and started my academic education in Graphic Design field when I was 14. I entered to university of art when I was 17 and I’ve received my associate degree in Persian Painting and bachelor’s degree in graphic design in Iran. After I finished university, I opened my gallery specialized in making relief and patina. I moved to Canada on December 2017 and I decided to continue my study in fashion field since I’ve been always passionate about it. I took fashion design and production diploma program at Vancouver Community College and now I’m about to pass my practicum and get my diploma. Illustration is my favourite part in fashion, and I know several techniques since I got my associate degree in Persian painting. I love hand drawing even though I am comfortable with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Who is your audience and how did you reach out to them before COVID19? 

We live in Technology era and Social media makes communication easier in most parts of the world. Since I am still new in the country and I was studying full-time and working part-time I didn’t have too much chances to make a local network but definitely participating in events, exhibitions, contests, fashion shows provided me the chance of making more audiences which due to COVID19 I missed those events. I have been always in touch with my audience through Instagram account, so in this case I had more free time to promote my profile, upload more pictures from my design and spend more time with my followers who are interested to know more about me and my artworks. In addition one of my favourite brands Alexander McQueen have been creating challenge every week and designers can participate, share their design( could be illustration, handcraft, design idea, actual garment) and use hashtag AlexanderMcQueen and Mcqueencreators to get more followers on Instagram and people can reach out to our profile through their channel.

How has social isolation affected you? 

The first thing I was totally upset about was postponing Vancouver Fashion Week from March 2020 to October 2020 which I was supposed to showcase my graduation collection on that, and it was like a dream comes true for me. Due to postponing VFW I missed work opportunities and connection with people in fashion field, it caused delay for starting my career also trend changes when season changes. In addition I should have finished my practicum course by end of April, but because many businesses were closed I couldn’t finish my program yet even though I have time, I believe to finish my job at the right time to avoid any delay in my plan in the future. With consideration of this fact that COVID19 is an issue for many people all around the world and it is out of my control I tried to take advantage of my free time due to pandemic and made new projects. I participated in some contests and I’m honored to be recipient of Circle Craft Award of excellence during this slow time and showcase my handcraft piece in Circle Craft Gallery in Granville Island.

What strategies are you using to reach people now? What projects are inspiriting you to move ahead? 

First of all, I encourage all my friends, family and audiences to improve their health care plans and not be strict about themselves when they are not too much productive. Think about what they wanted to do in their busy time, and they didn’t do it because they didn’t have time for it. Now it is a perfect time to start and do whatever you want. There are too many free channels, courses, tutorial, workshops you can learn from. Be creative and positive and believe this situation will end soon and you will be back into your busy life. I try to reach out to people through Instagram. Share my stories and projects I have done before. Nature is my inspiration currently. Since I have been staying home for couple months, I feel the need of sunshine, fresh air, and beauty of nature to share with my audience and inspire them.

Do you have a mantra, motto, role model, favourite illustration that moves you forward? 

Being creative is my motto everyday in my life. No matter what you do, just do it right and make best out of it. Whenever I do artwork, time flies for me. There are some illustrators and fashion designers I am always inspired by and admire their creativities. Also, thanks to my amazing instructors in fashion program at Vancouver Community College who encouraged me to participate in some contests during this time. I have been always inspired by ancient architecture and my country heritage (IRAN) as you can see in my illustrations, but there was a movement for me when I drew flourish illustration. When I was drawing this portrait of mine, my hometown (IRAN) wasn't in a proper political situation and I was worried about my family and friends!  During that time, there were too many tragic stories happening in my hometown, but I just want to tell you no matter where you are, how you feel, just take advantage of every single moment you live! float among colourful flowers and enjoy. You live once!

See my Instagram page here


A photo of the illustration I bought from Shadi


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