Meet The Artist
In conversation with Philly based artist Alana, aka Spexx.
E: So tell us a little about yourself.
A: My name is Alana, often mispronounced. Spexx was born of me getting tired of people saying my name incorrectly and a very chaotic college radio episode, where I was put on the spot to come up with a name and I said “uh my name is Spexx with two x’s because I don't get too crazy and I just wear glasses." So the name isn't rooted in any fancy narrative, it just came to be. I’m from Columbia SC, I'm 27 and a Sag, and my creative background is very all over the place. I started drawing, worked my way into clay, from clay into set design and transitioned into print making. I feel like this is something that happens to a lot of folks after they leave a college and suddenly it became harder to find access to materials, so that shift to not having access to a press to collage, mixed medium and now a bit of dabbling into digital art.
E: Do you feel like your art influences your personal style or does your personal style influence your art?
A: Thats really funny because my art does influence the way I dress, but not in the way people suspect. I really do feel like I'm working my way towards an androgynous, muted, not in a boring way, but I'm loving just a beanie, simple print, a sweatshirt, cuffed pant , shoe look. Like a slightly spicier Diane Keeton. Like American Apparel but actually for everyone. I'm working my way towards wearing a trouser pant that fits and a nice sneaker because I think when I was younger the way that I move with patterns was “notice this but don't notice me, like I don't want to be perceived. What's funny is, the more invested I get into my art, the less I am giving a fuck about the loud of fashion, like “oh this bright pattern” more of “its not about me, its about what I’m making” and how can I have this polished gender affirming look because I'm making such colorful bright things and trying to have these conversations through my work and using a lot of imagery from contemporary magazines, that is what my art is giving. I feel like I'm fine adding more a muted look. Been wearing a lot of black and simple sweaters and pants lately. That's my connection, the art is loud. Does that make sense?
E: Yeah totally, I feel like once people are really into their craft, they want the thing they create to speak more than themselves.
A: If universe willingly, I would do a gallery show and show up in a fire ass tailored suit. I’m trying to get that early-era high-waisted trouser pants and I would take a picture beside my work and you would focus on my work.
E: Where do you like to shop? Do you like shopping second hand?
A: As a plus sized, masc assume, but truly in my heart I want to look more gender neutral, lil queer lady, I definitely struggle with finding my niche, my spot when finding clothes. I used to be able to go to Forever21 and get a men's shirt, that had a fun fake silk feel to them, make it with a lil pant. Now that I'm back in a city, I'm really finding success as a bigger bodied person with bottoms at Goodwill and a lot of tops that have that simple but retro feel, my tops are usual button ups, cardigans, sweaters, Asos and local thrift stores. So I would say Asos, Old Navy specifically they have never let me down on pants,, and thrift stores. Thrift stores are where I find my most unique pieces and sweaters, my fun more vintage button ups.
E: Do you have any favorite thrift stores in your city?
A: I have had some good luck at the farmers market. They have vendors that sell clothes, right by my place in West Philly. Second mile and Philly aids thrift is a good place to get things but you got to commit and dig.
E: I like that place.
A: I love it!
E: Do you have any thrifting tips?
A: If you find jeans that work for you, pay attention to the sizing and the brand. Just because its at a goodwill doesn't mean the brand no longer exists, there's a chance you just found the place to go to get your clothes. I found out a brand of wide-leg pant and my friend Reba has them to and got them at target. So asking around about brands and doing research because you lucked out and found a perfect fit and that you have access to it online or in store.
E: Very cool. Why do you like shopping second hand?
A: I think a lot of people ended up shopping second hand, because big stores don't cater. When I first started giving a fuck about how I look, I went to Forever21 and I was a lil baby queer at Forever21 and I literally just had to shop in the men's section. Forever21 has some of the worst plus size clothing I have seen in my entire life. First of all, its like you're fat and you don't have curves and you're feminine, so a lot of the stuff you find in that section is all floral print. I feel like as a big lady, the assumption that plus size people want floral print, smocks, we want loud prints that don't suit us. Like what are we doing? I really wanted to explore more of how to create these looks that I can’t find in stores. So that's how I ended up shopping secondhand. You find fun patterns, a lot of the shirts I bought from goodwill or a second hand place has lasted a lot longer than shit I bought from Forever21 or Target. I think for a lot of people they go to vintage and second hand because these big stores don't give a fuck about a lot of people.
E: We’ll close it out with where can people find you?
A: I’m on Instagram ( @spexx_art ), that's mainly where you can find me. I'm flirting around with Twitter and I have a website coming soon.