I’ve been juggling a few different things lately, between regular kidlet duties, school fundraising shenanigans, the finishing up of my first book (hello!) and all my other design and art projects, let’s just say things have been especially busy.
A little while back, I realized that so much of what I do and make is for other people or purposes and I really wanted to see if I could simply make something that was just for me (how novel!). I wondered if I could explore an idea, see it to fruition and where it ended up, in a ‘just because’ kinda way.
That’s when my high school yearbook portraits began. The premise was conceptually based on the fact that since my high school was so small (24 in my class, 99 in my school), we had no yearbook and were subsequently forced to instead fill that memory-making void with the trading of wallet-sized photographs at the end of each year. Also, it was the 80s and I went to an exceptionally nerdy high school. So it seemed only fitting to revisit this particular chapter in my life and chronicle these 80s visions of school picture awkwardness. I decided to create everything in appliqué form.
As each portrait has been completed, I’ve shared them on Instagram, but if you haven’t seen any yet, here are all my fictitious classmates created thus far:
Block No. 1: Classic nerd. Probably pimple-ridden but I chose to spare this soul of such traumas.
Block No. 2: Ah, that good ol’ lone key on a hoop earring trick.
Block No. 3: Bright-eyed timeless nerd, braces, high levels of pastel, big geometric jewelry.
Block No. 4: One (hyphenated) word: Aqua-Net. *also channeling a little Sally Jessy Raphael vibe.
Block No. 5: The classic ill-fitting tuxedo t-shirt. Because hello yearbook photo. Also because it’s wearable until it cuts off circulation.
Block No. 6: Some sweet 80s Hi Top | Kid ‘N’ Play | Cameo Cut action. And those glasses.
Block No. 7: Simply Red-style explosive hair action partially shoved into and quasi-contained by a handy dandy fedora. With a vest. Always with a vest.
Block No. 8: Another inexplicable 80s coiffure coupled with that once-ubiquitous Esprit-emblazoned sweatshirt.
Block No. 9: Two words (or one word twice, if you want to get all technical about it): Duran Duran.
Block No. 10: That undeniable vision known as the Side Ponytail (with bonus bird’s nest bangs and scrunchie). Plus matchy matchy primary colors. Dreamy.
Block No. 11: Overalls. Worn like that. Commonly cinched with a leather belt, because bad things happen to good people. (Plus a painter’s cap, which I never personally witnessed but my husband swears it was a thing where he grew up).
Block No. 12: Asymmetrical haircut with claw-like bangs on top. Plus brightly colored coordinating plastic jewelry.
Block No. 13: Those curious glasses frames where the arms anchored toward the bottom making them kinda look like they’re being worn upside down. More hair. And a brooch at the buttoned-up neckline.
Another big parameter I gave myself for this project was to use what I have. There are days where I really feel I own too much stuff and so it made sense to have part of this exercise be to use up supplies in my studio. Because of that, there will most likely only be 16 portraits when it’s all said and done, since that’s all the blue chambray yardage I had available to cut all the background panels from. I’ve entertained adding more, but I also kind of like having to to stick to my initial rules.
Based on that, I’ve got three more blocks to go, so we’ll see where that takes me. In the meantime, I have to think up a final grouping of ‘must have’ 80s fashion/hair/trends to represent. I know exactly how I want this set of students to be sewn up and finished and I’m looking forward to completing the project and seeing that vision in my head come to life. Just for me.
So stay tuned…