Nanami Cowdroy was born in Sydney, Australia with close bonds to her mixed Japanese-European heritage. Growing up with such contrasting cultures and surroundings, has greatly influenced her style of art and creative expression.
By intertwining complex characters and highly detailed objects her pieces reflect a juxtaposition between foreign and familiar entities and environments. Her imagination is illustrated through works which are elaborate and exotic. She is drawn to subjects, which may on the surface seem delicate or fragile, but are given strength and depth through her pen and ink techniques, intricate hand illustrative style and mixed media compositions.
Matou en Peluche: I have been drawing and making things enthusiastically since before I can remember.My favourite thing is to spend the day drawing – preferably lovely looking girls – drinking cups of tea and listening to music. I think I am a closet hermit!
Over the years I’ve cartooned and illustrated for a number of Sydney magazines and newspapers and have had exhibitions of my drawings and paintings. I have even been known to do a bit of performance art.
This week I’m profiling Me&Yu, a small fashion label specialising in hand-made and hand-printed clothing for men and women.
I first encountered the label in offbeat shopping mecca Affleck’s Palace in Manchester, UK. There I had the fortune of meeting Angie, one of the label’s co-founders. Angie has wanted to be a fashion designer since she was a child and luckily she has turned that dream into a reality – albeit with a lot of hard graft along the way!
“We had the idea for creating clothes together back in 2003 whilst we were living in Sydney,” Angie explained. “We just wanted to create clothes that were a bit different, that had a bit more personality than what was available on the high street.”
Me&Yu’s designs are cool and unique, appealing to a wide audience. I particularly adore their quirky, hand-drawn prints and stylish handmade dresses! Unlike many smaller labels, Me&Yu offers both girl and guy garments and many of the designs are unisex, allowing the wearer to put their own slant on things.
Me&Yu started in 2003, with stalls at weekend markets and events in Sydney, Australia then in Manchester and Liverpool, UK during 2004-2006. The designers had to balance developing the label with working full-time – what a challenge! Finally in 2006, Me&Yu moved permanently to a shop in Affleck’s Palace, complemented by its online store and presence in a handful of boutiques in the UK.
“Affleck’s Palace is a great place to be as it houses lots of small independent businesses together – you have the support of other people around you, and that’s the best thing. When we first started we got loads of helpful advice from other small businesses, obviously every business is different but you can get some great tips!”
Designs are made up at the label’s studio in an old cotton mill in Manchester, and it is important to the company to keep the city’s heritage alive. The mill houses a number of other artists and fosters a creative and collaborative atmosphere.
Me&Yu is a great example of excellent self-promotion – the label blogs at www.wearemeandyu.blogspot.com, uses Facebook and Twitter, distributes flyers and has even secured features in magazines. In addition, Me&Yu gets involved in charity fashion shows and fundraisers – contributing to important causes as well as raising awareness of the brand.
“There is something special about selling something that you made yourself, its very personal,” finishes Angie. “However, it’s hard work. Handmade = labour intensive and not everybody understands quite how much work goes into each item.”
What’s your favourite Me&Yu design? Post your link below!
Leah Sawyer: I began making jewellery in 2006 and have been successfully selling my work through a number of wonderfully supportive fashion and giftware boutiques in Sydney.
Working with glass has been the most rewarding artistic process that I have pursued and I am constantly amazed and inspired by the medium. I am eager to keep exploring and expanding my knowledge and range of skills.
Whilst I can find inspiration in almost everything, I am most drawn to pattern and repetition. I have a particular fondness for 1970’s wallpaper and fabric designs.
Due to the amazing response to my pieces, in 2009 I decided to pursue jewellery making as a full time occupation.
Jennifer Loiselle: I’ve worked in magazines, newspapers and websites for ten years, but have finally found the time to focus on making my handmade headbands.
Having fulfilled my wanderlust, living in Sydney and Tokyo and traveling everywhere in between, I now call London home.
Things I love: mid-century furniture, taxidermy, polka dots, shoes, big accessories, Paris and most of all, dancing with my new baby.