Friday, December 7, 2012

Mitra Part 2

Above: Shots from the Runway by Mario Peralta
This is a continuation from an Interview Started Last Friday. Argie Mitra, designer at DRESSMITRA tries to sum up her favorite era: 
This is a really difficult question. Two years ago, without hesitation, I would have said the Victorian era. I think the fact of the matter is that I love any era in fashion that distorts the female silhouette! From the super wide panniers of the late 18th century to the giant "gigot" sleeves of the mid-19th century to the S-shaping spoonbill corsets of the Edwardian era, I have to give props to women in history for enduring fashion that most would call ridiculous today.

All photos above from MITRA SS2012 "coquilles" presentation - December 8th, 2011 at Walkers Wine Bar. Photography by Mario Peralta Hair by Mindy Stamulis Salon and Paul Mitchell the School Makeup by Lindsey Jones-Wirht, Amy LaVe, & Stephanie Moore.

In Part 1 of this interview fashion designer and Etsy shop owner Argie Mitra talked about working with photographers, and models to create her stunning site and treasury worthy Etsy listings. We left off on Mitra's Fine Arts degree at Jacksonville University, and her experiences in the art world, dance, and theatre.

So, did dance, theatre and Fine Art influence you to become a designer, or was it the other way around?
- I have always needed to be creative in some way, so I can't say which came first. When I was around 5 I remember selling drawings in my driveway for $.25 to $1 to my neighbors and my big brother's friends, but then I also remember undressing my Barbies and taping and safety pinning napkins and scraps into different dress designs! Haha :)

At what age did you consciously realize you wanted to do what you're doing now? 
- What I am doing now is like nothing I've ever imagined. When I was 13 and I wanted to be a designer, I saw myself in New York and Gwyneth Paltrow stopping at my studio for a fitting for the Academy Awards. It's nice to have that idealistic goal, but reality (a.k.a. financial resources) forces you to focus on the amazing opportunities you have in front of you. While I do design my Mitra line and I get to paint in my free time, I work mainly as a freelance wardrobe stylist or costume designer for fashion, beauty, commercial, and editorial shoots, and in TV and film. I really enjoy collaborating with so many different types of people on sets. My younger self would have never known about the collaborative process.

How does your understanding of composition and aesthetics influence your Etsy work?
- In fine art, I think it is important to know composition, aesthetics, and the elements of design, but then it is just as important to be able to break the rules. I remember going to the MoMA in New York City with my cousin and she looked at a Jackson Pollock painting and said she could've done what he did when she was five years old. I was quick to defend that he was the first to create work like his, and at such a large scale. While fashion is a completely different ball game, the concept still applies: know the female body and have a sense of trend, but challenge yourself to think outside of the box and design something new. 

To See more link to Mitra on Etsy, on the web, or on Facebook

Friday, November 30, 2012

Mitra Part 1

I ask Argie Mitra about how she works with models, a photographer, and her romantic designer clothing to create the images for her website and Etsy listings. In my preview post I had to admit I was drawn to your shop by the photography, so let's go into more detail on that process. For starters, how did you find the ideal photographer?
To be honest, I almost wanted to do the photography myself. When I have a vision I want it the way it is in my head. Through tests shoots, I found that it is never the way it is in your head; it's an organic process. Everyone on a shoot team brings something to the table, and you work with what you have. When looking through portfolios of local photographers, I tried to find photographers who used the kind of lighting I envisioned, the same styling, and/or just had work that spoke to me. 

The photography for my past two collections was done by Lauren Gherardi. At the time I was searching for a photographer for my first collection, she was an emerging fashion photographer and had some dramatic lighting in some of her shoots that connected with my initial shoot concepts.

What is it like to work with Models?
- A good model listens and executes, plus some! For models, I will pull references of poses, show them features of their outfits they can work with, and do poses myself for them to replicate. The best part is when they surprise me with a pose or a look that didn't even cross my mind but fully expresses what I want for the shoot.

How do you create a vision for a collection?
- If you ask me about the inspirations for my past two collections, they both come down to one word. I'll start with the collection I entitled "myco-reverie." It's not actually a word but it aptly describes my vision: "myco" is the prefix referring to my initial inspiration of mushrooms and other fungi (I loved the textures and colors), and "reverie" is a synonym for a dream. The last collection was entitled "coquilles" which is French for "seashells." I was inspired by seashells and the vibe of a beach holiday, and wanted to translate the word to French to allude to the pastels and sweet color palette of the fanciful Rococo period.
Yes, but how did you craft such a consistent image over time?
-You have to know your customer and you have to remember that key word of consistency. My pieces are feminine and elegant, but have an element of whimsy and contemporary features. Even if my inspiration changes with each collection, I think about how I can bring what people loved most about the previous collection back into the next one.

Now, on a more personal note, I read your bio, can you tell me more about your fine art background?
- I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with a concentration in Painting from Jacksonville University and I exhibited in several shows and galleries in Jacksonville, FL. My artwork is a mixed media (but mostly acrylic paint) melange of historical fashion references, emotional darkness, and physical beauty. Although I mostly painted, the fine arts department at Jacksonville University was small enough that I could explore as an interdisciplinary artist: painting, photography, sculpture, music, dance, and theatre. In theatre I discovered a love for costume design, which is where I quickly learned to sew. Before college I had wanted to be a fashion designer, so I took it as a sign life was leading me back to my true passion. 

More from Argie Mitra in part 2 of this interview, Next Friday. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Upcoming Interview- Argie Mirta of MIRTA

I was drawn to Argie Mirta of  MITRA : romantic & contemporary dresses & skirts because of this photo:

Photo by Lauren M. Gheradi

Whenever I see a striking image on Etsy, I have this curiosity about how all the elements came together. And a little research into the romantic designs of this Florida based designer and Etsy front pager had me intrigued. My interview with Mirta will be posted in two parts over the next two weeks. Check back  Friday for the first installment about models, photography, and how Mirta crafts her front page worthy images.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Today we finally got power back where I am. Today we soaked in technology. My boyfriend confirmed that yes, the internets do continue without him, (sic) and I went seeking an image only described to me in that hour between loosing power and cellular. A friend of mine, a playwright, called Monday night when power went down to check on us all, I was eager for news, she said the photos were rattling, that somewhere a carousal in a glass box floated, fully lit, in a dark ocean of water.

Dumbo, Brooklyn, I told her, its not floating, but its way out there on the water, have you ever seen it?

So here, after much searching, is the image as it appeared on CNN.

And here is the photographer's Twitter.

And her Instagram.

And her blog where she collects clever marketing ideas.

Clever andjelicaaa. Keep going. Stay Dry.

As for family and friends who have shown such overwhelming concern, THANK YOU, now please, please send something to Staten Island.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

For my first Interview on Etsy in forever I talked to professional designer and part time comic artist Monica Gallagher about her site, her derby webcomic Bonnie N. Collide, and Etsy

Monica: I've gotten a lot more involved with Etsy since I started back in 2007. As the site has grown, I've started to view it more seriously as a business tool. I really appreciate all of their articles, groups, teams, and information encouraging sellers to do more with their work. And although I don't always have time to read their articles on how to improve your shop, every time I do I find something worthwhile. For example, after participating in last year's holiday bootcamp, I changed the way I presented all of my books to try to make them appear more consistent. I know Etsy has hammered this home on its sellers, but for newbies, it bears repeating - photos are so important!

Above, an actual image from her shop. Even in cases of art, and comics its great to see scale and printing style and binding all in a clear and even clever photo. Bellow, a detail photo, also from Gallagher's etsy account. 

If you put effort into nothing else but that, I think you'll find tremendous value. I'll spend hours on Etsy just navigating through gorgeous photographs of work, because it presents a world to me that I want to live in.

Question: Why Derby? 

I love roller derby. I was only in it for a short time (1 year learning how to skate + 1 1/2 years on a league), but it was a really magical experience. I mean, really hard work and one of the scariest things I've ever done, but magical too! For me, roller derby was the perfect blend of everything I was looking for - sport, female friends, exercise, community, action, drama, and costuming. 


Once I was involved though, I saw behind the glitz of the bouts and the sweat of the practices and discovered the reality of juggling a real life and a derby life. Every rollergirl I knew wasn't just a rollergirl and a teacher or a rollergirl and a nurse - they were usually multiple "somethings" - mothers, students, etc. And they juggled everything just for the sake of being in derby. They found it that important, and that sacrifice in itself reminded me of superheroes, more than just the duality of rollergirl names and costuming.

I actually created my Bonnie N. Collide, Nine to Five comic before I was in derby, just looking from the outside in. But after I got more interested in derby, I found SO many things I wanted to talk about in the comic - especially how it related to my day job and the day jobs of other rollergirls I knew. The idea that Bonnie could stay chipper and positive at a boring, soul-sucking job BECAUSE she got to hit people in her free time was my main impetus for writing her story.

 To read Bonnie's story or find out more visit or Monica Gallagher's Etsy account at

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I'll admit I'm new to Derby. There's Jailhouse Elvis, and a Dead Cheerleader, and me. In case it's not obvious from the photo bellow I'm not tough. I'm not coordinated. I will not be tearing up the track. But I enjoy spectacle and good crowds, and fun sports. Last Saturday's bout was one of two I've witnessed. Ever. And now that Gotham Girls has finished the home season, it will be a while before I can really get back into it. Except, well, in spirit. Or except when reading Bonnie N. Collide, a webcomic by Monica Gallagher.

A few posts from now I plan on interviewing Gallagher about her art, her derby, and her etsy site. More photos and Derby to come...