This week we chat to PLATF9RM member Cleo Barbour, a fashion guru turned digital artist.
Hi Cleo! You’re a lady of many trades: design, illustration, photography, and all through a colourful lens. Could you tell us a bit more about what you make and who your clients are?
It’s all quite new to me, I used to be a shoe designer. Now I do colourful digital illustrations which become prints and artwork. Half the work I do at PLATF9RM is digital, it’s how I design most things. Once I’ve printed it, I will then hand embellish them, which will be a clean design.**
I transform digital into artworks with extra-special embellishments, which I keep accessible and affordable. I love embroidery, machine, hand and stitching. So this way I can combine my passions.**
I also carry out commissions - my current is for a ladies stables, which is like an art deco landscape with horses on.**
You have a unique style, colourful, playful and striking. What drew you to creating in this way?
I previously had my own shoe design company, so built up a signature style through that. Now I apply it to everything I do, signature colours and finishes recognisable as mine. People recognise it now, even after I’ve moved into another area creatively and it’s really useful to have built that up, it’s like a brand in a way. I've been really into colour and art from a very young age. I would go round and visit artists with my parents; the art was always really colourful, so I was influenced by that. I am also inspired by interior designers, so there's been a lot of things along the way.
As mentioned, you’re a lady of many trades, which came first?
I’d wanted to be a shoe designer since I was 16, so I went and studied footwear design and then created my company when I was 23. I also did loads of apprenticeships and stuff. It’s fair to say shoes were life until I was 29/30. However, I decided there were better, or more, things in life and I also wanted to get out of the fashion industry. I just didn’t feel like it’s values aligned with me anymore, so that’s how I began my art.
What was it that drew you to PLATF9RM? Has it lived up to expectations?
It’s the community aspect, being part of something, that’s the biggest thing… People, basically. I’ve worked at home alone a lot, and until recently I’d been working in a studio where there’s two of us, which felt too isolated. It’s nice to be around people doing things, it’s what I miss about London. And that’s what PLATF9RM is all about, combining a social-life with work-life. Plus there’s the fact that you love dogs here!
We’ve got loads of events at PLATF9RM, are there any that have caught your eye?
The Walkshop was fabulous and even included fresh coffee cooked up on top of the South Downs. I also got to meet some other PLATF9RM characters who I look forward to working with on future projects.
What has been your greatest adventure to date?
I went travelling on my own last year, around Australia the Cook Islands and Bali. I drove down the Great Ocean Road on my own, which was really good. I also went to Lagoon Island on my own and it was really stormy, which was pretty scary... I thought I was going to get wiped out by a typhoon!
If we were to catch you bedroom dancing, what would you be dancing to?
Spice Girls and the Pet Shop Boys, I’ve been listening to synth pop a lot recently…
Which of the Spice Girls do most closely relate to?
Probably Posh Spice, definitely not scary. I don’t wanna be posh though, so maybe baby, but i’m not innocent enough. I’ve secretly been Posh for a while though. On the end of school trip age 11, the boys performed as a boy band, and the girls performed as the Spice Girls and I was Posh.
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