“The look of my clothing takes shape from combination of print and item of clothing. Every piece is a little bit different. There are aspects of line work and block print to the imagery that I make, this mixed with the uniqueness of the clothing makes for an ever changing illustration.”
There are no words better chosen to describe the creative works of Foxtail Inkworks and Printery ; a mass of textile work that emanates power, strength, and elegance, created by Victoria’s one and only Fraea the Banshee. Fraea is a silkscreen artist and print designer who is close to Devil May Wear’s heart, as once upon a time she worked at our Fan Tan Alley store in Victoria. We love her use of symbolism, up-cycled clothing, and dedication to accessible high-quality wearable art. We wanted to learn more about her process, so we sat down for coffee one afternoon to ask a few questions!
DMW: What lead you to choose the symbolism you use for your clothing?
F: I was teaching a silkscreening workshop for a group of 15-19 year olds. We got to chatting about using shirts as a platform to speak from, and how we can use symbolism to express or provoke thoughts. I use symbols for different reasons; for example, I have a print of an anatomical shedding uterus with the moon cycle above it, which I print it on comfy panties and sassy lingerie to encourage the celebration of that part of our bodies. There is enough people saying nothing at all, that I find it important if you have non-hateful things to express, to take the opportunity to tell a story or provoke a thought.
DMW: Why use recycled clothing?
F: I use all upcycled clothing except for the famous menstrual panties! I do this because there are plenty of clothes in the world. The ethics of how and where clothes are made is multifaceted and complicated. Although upcycling clothes doesn’t remove that complication or stop unethical production, it does promote more awareness on the matter, as well as contributing to the local economy. I source the clothing I use from either small thrift stores on [Vancouver] Island, or from the amazing people in my community. There are some weird and wonderful clothes out there, such as vintage slips, fabulous coats, and perfectly worn-in teeshirts.
DMW: How long have you been working on this project?
F: I started it all in 2012. At the time I was a traveling artist and musician, and would roam around North America with a small suitcase filled with printed patches of my art. I would go around selling my art at the shows I played or outside of coffee shops to make my bread and butter. I started printing on clothes in larger production in 2014. I would space out my travels, staying in towns for a few weeks or a few months and work on prints. As you can imagine, hauling around tools and supplies was really challenging as I didn’t have a vehicle. I would teach DIY silkscreening and printmaking when I set up shop in various towns. About a year ago I settled down and have been living in Victoria, have all the space and tools to do my work, and host classes outside of my home, which I must admit is a pretty nice change.
DMW: What’s the most popular item you make, and why do you think that is?
F: My most popular item would have to be the period panties. I think folks really like the combination of anatomy and the moon cycle, and the panties are cotton, highwaisted, and really gentle. It’s a good power piece for when you are menstruating and want to celebrate the epic-ness of that, at the same time as being gentle and comfortable with yourself.
DMW: What was the most interesting or comical experience you’ve had with a customer?
F: I often do markets and have a lot of interesting experiences with folks looking at the lingerie. Little old ladies talking about how they had to wear similar body suits or slips under their clothes all the time, which leads into some sassy and amazing conversations about how decorating an item like a body suit/girdle or corset can reclaim something that may have felt constricting and turn it into something empowering. The best experience I had was when I was doing a market and selling handmade nipple tassels/pasties, as I do burlesque and make my own gear. This girl who was about 4 or 5 was at the market with her dad and she sees the sequinned and tasseled nipple pasties, holds it onto her head and screams, “Daddy! This is the most beautiful hat! I must have it!”.
DMW: What is the goal for your work?
F: My goal with the clothing and art that I make is to have it accessible to people. I believe that art is for us and the people, and it’s important to me to make and keep that available to folks. I want people to feel really rocking when they wear my clothes. I make sure to have clothes in all shapes and sizes available to anyone and everyone. I love to see people wearing the clothes I make in ways that make them feel amazing, body positive, fierce, and badass.
Want to take a closer look? Foxtail Inkworks and Printery is sold out of The Little Shop of Strange in Market Square, Victoria BC. Check Fraea the Banshee out on Instagram as well for behind the scenes and new projects at www.instagram.com/foxtailinkworks.