Lampoon, Jamie Sutherland, butterfly

Jamie Sutherland’s sense of childish play and hoarding as multidisciplinary creative tools

«Wherever I went, I went with myself, and I couldn’t escape the person that I was in all those different scenarios». Jamie Sutherland on creating imagined realities as a catalyst for their final collection at CSM

Childhood inspirations and a sense of play – Jamie Sutherland

Jamie Sutherland graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in fashion design from Central Saint Martins in 2020. He is on the way to establishing themselves as a multidisciplinary artist based in the UK. Child of a photographer and a writer and artist, Sutherland’s grew up in the area of Norwich – East of England. This environment contributed to the vision that fuels their creative process.

Reminiscing of a project they did in school about Ancient Egypt when they were much younger as the birth of their interest in fashion design, they describe not even being aware of its significance at the time, and how their affinity for fashion just came naturally. Simply dressing up and expressing themselves through that was rooted in a significant sense of play that formed a big part of their childhood and is something they still try to maintain in any creative work.

«I think it’s easy to lose it. I didn’t realize that you would have to fight to keep that, as hard as you do» explains Sutherland. They stress how they viewed the environment at Central Martins as competitive, which lead the way to losing sight. Sutherland held on to the inspirations drawn from their past and credited their creative parents with gratitude for showing them what was possible and being open minded and supportive.

From their mother taking them to galleries and showing books of her students’ work, to how they realized their interest in black and white originated from seeing their father using the color scheme in his photography, Sutherland expresses their appreciation for the influence their family and upbringing have had on them.

The search of an imaginary escape amidst lockdown

Leaving friends they’ve spent the past five years with without a goodbye and having to give up the final fashion show which is the ultimate reward of studying at Central Saint Martins was not easy for Sutherland. Once they overcame the difficulties, creating a collection under lockdown in their room became a unique experience.

Not getting the help of anyone as they would have in a studio environment helped them gain a sense of independence and control over the process and substituting the runway for a fashion film project allowed them to further experiment with a different medium. Leaning into the homemade and DIY feeling, Sutherland brought together a collection that had a specific research direction connected with the idea of an imaginary elsewhere. 

Captivated by Japan and its culture ever since they did another school project when they were little, Sutherland explains their conception of the country as a distant escape, stemming from the belief that the grass is greener on the other side. Having the chance to intern in Japan during their placement, they were simultaneously inspired and surprised seeing their fantasy in real life. «Wherever I went, I went with myself, and I couldn’t escape the person that I was in all those different scenarios».

The realization that this imaginary escape wasn’t real became a catalyst for the two-look collection and their final dissertation. Coupled with photos from their childhood, they brought this all together in a big file of loose sheets instead of a sketchbook, giving them the flexibility to constantly change things around before arriving at the final collection.

Jamie Sutherland’s gentle departure from fashion

Even when applying to Central Saint Martins, Sutherland stated that they were also applying for fine arts courses too. The idea of pursuing arts had always been in their radar. Getting the opportunity to try many different disciplines in their first year of studies and being able to choose their own path brought them closer with the world of art.

Although fashion school had put them under its spell and made them appreciate fashion even more than before, they realized they were more interested in the sketchbook process or when they had to photograph their projects, rather than the creation of clothing pieces themselves. Their growth as a creative brought Sutherland to a point of a gentle departure from fashion, which is unlike a complete one eighty and an anti-fashion mindset, but more like a departure from the system of fashion. «I love sewing, but I am not so interested in this super-fast paced churning out of fashion anymore, » they explain.

This has heightened their appreciation of fashion that embraces slow and mindful production, but it isn’t enough to entice them into following this path and creating their own brand. Drawing or creating other types of art became very natural once they get in the rhythm of it, which differs from their feelings towards fashion that are instead more clouded with the stress of doing things right. «When you’re sewing something more sculptural, you can make it up and stick bits on as you go, and I like that feeling, » they explain, and point towards art as a way to feel more independent and break free from the rules of fashion.  

Lampoon, Jamie Sutherland, CSM graduation collection
CSM graduation collection by Jamie Sutherland

Hoarding as an eco-friendly creation tool

Sutherland believes that being responsible about the environment and the people involved, lies at the root of sustainability. They adopted this mindset in the way they work even before the ever-increasing awareness of sustainable practices in fashion. Their mother inspired them to pick up interesting things found in the street to make something new. «You’ve just moved to London, you don’t have much money. So you make things out of anything that you can find».

As a new designer, they were faced with the fear that something may go wrong. They avoided new and expensive fabrics in order to make sure they’re not wasting anything. They avoided new and expensive fabrics in order to make sure they’re not wasting anything. Overall, creating something new from discarded items that people are interested in requires creating a new form of value. As a self-proclaimed hoarder, Sutherland explains how this is the way that they’re already used to working. Embracing low-waste practices and reusing materials comes naturally to them.

This also manifests itself in how they enjoy putting away and returning to the things they’ve created. Oftentimes right after creating a work they are surrounded by a sense of dislike. Sutherland believes that giving things time and a second chance helps them rediscover their beauty and appreciate their creative effort.

Connecting people through art

«I spend so much time thinking, and not enough time doing» explains Sutherland. They refer to the personal reminder note they have stuck on the wall that says ‘do it’ in capital letters. Their aim is to establish themselves as a multidisciplinary artist. Giving into the flow of the creative process is key to reaching a balanced and cohesive use of different mediums. Being back home with their parents, they spent their mother’s shed that doubles as a studio space. 

«It’s strange making a body of work. Nobody see it because it feels like it doesn’t exist at the moment» says Sutherland. They underline the transformation of their work into an exhibition or publication. Their love-hate relationship with social media plays into the effort to get their name out there. With the pandemic, the feeling that Instagram was the only way they could get their work out there became inescapable.

They have already experienced this at a smaller scale. Younger students at Central Saint Martin’s expressed their admiration of Sutherland’s work, showing their connection and similar feelings. Embodied in their design philosophy, the first step to achieving this goal is to create something personal. Something Sutherland themselves feels connected to.

Jamie Sutherland

Jamie Sutherland is a UK-based multidisciplinary artist working with different mediums including drawing, painting, photography, and film. They graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2020 with a degree in fashion design. Then they have interned at Alexander McQueen in London and McQueen, Anrealage in Tokyo. Their work bridges the space between imagination and reality and aims to connect viewers with feelings of mutual understanding.  

Selin Hatunoglu

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.