Via: AFENDS - https://us.afends.com/blogs/behind-the-brand/afends-x-lee-mcconnel
Put your phone down and pick up Afends newest collaboration with NSW-based visual artist and creative guru Lee McConnell. In our latest drop, Lee articulates ideas around overconsumption in today's society by blending the vibrant colours and finer details of nature with elements of our digital realm. With parts of his ideas taken from past childhood cartoons, his dads old record labels and nature itself - Lee worked with us to design a range of graphic tees, corduroy pieces and a range of unique accessories designed with the planet in mind.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your creative process - what inspires you?
I’ve always illustrated and drawn since I was a kid, I think a lot of inspiration has come from kids' books that I’ve had, early record covers my dad had, or cartoons I watched growing up: The Ferals, Captain Planet and stuff like that. My creative process is mostly organic, it’s all from the hands. Starts from the mind, down the arm, out my left hand, onto the paper, and then I just draw that out. I rub stuff out heaps because there are always elements where things are wrong, or the shapes change and building it out keeps you in tune with what you’re putting down. You’re not just relying on being able to go back and chop and change shit easily, you can’t command-z like a computer. Computer's are pretty amazing and do some awesome stuff, but like everything else in the world, they make everything too easy for you.
Talk us through the creation of our debut capsule - what was the highlight of working with Afends?
Afends approached me to do the collab, and we bounced some ideas about what we could do fot the artwork - it was as though I was creating stuff for an exhibition. The highlight is the sustainable stuff they do, it’s really good. The fact they are going out of their way to build a hemp farm and produce their own hemp to make their product - it's pretty sick to see. All the colours, and the quality of their product is pretty amazing.
Take it back: that was the underlying concept. I guess it’s just a take on the overconsumption of nature. It's so nice to just go for a walk through the bush and be connected to that. Paying attention to the detail in everything is what really centres me. It can be as simple as the texture on a leaf. There's so much pattern, detail and life in everything, and I'm super inspired by that. I try to incorporate and marry colours together that create this euphoric feeling – an idea or a concept and I drive that home. The thing that really glues it together is the colour, I’m drawn to the colour first. One thing that’s kept my work breathing, fresh and stimulating is the fact that it is ever changing, and never the same.
What's your favourite project you've worked on?
I think out of everything that I’ve been doing lately, doing a record cover for a band is probably the thing that I enjoy the most - animated vinyls too. I really enjoy creating record covers, and some of the things you can do now are pretty bullshit. The last one we did, for Dune Rats, is a lenticular print which, again, is inspired by when we were kids and playing with Tazo's. We also did a 2-part album for DZ Deathrays, where if you put them together, it makes one landscape scene.
I did some photographic sort of stuff for Jack River, it was like this collage, crazy kind of landscape thing that Holly dreamed up. It's a pretty special album because Holly and I grew up together, and there are a lot of memories: good, bad and sad ones, and the cover had to tell the same story as the music. She was putting on a little music festival in her hometown of Foster and wanted me to do the poster. When that kicked off, I also did a lot of creative direction and installations for the festival based off the poster artwork. Working in your home town, having lots of friends involved and creating things together - that’s what it’s all about, it's so fun. I’m not really musically talented, but I can be creatively involved one way or another, and it’s pretty cool to be involved in the visual side of things.