Wednesday, November 25, 2009

She's A LLady: Mitra Khayyam

You've been down with Ladies Lotto for a while. What appealed to you about LL and what kind of experience has it been for you?

I liked the idea of being able to network with my peers, ones who share the same interests, and comparable experiences in the industry. It's been wonderful, I've collaborated with several of the LLadies, and they always continue to inspire me!

Where did you come up with the name Blood is the New Black?

Blood has always symbolized familiar bonds for me. In that respect, the name is a play on the fashion industry and "such and such being the new black" that season. I felt as though our community of artists should set the trends, not the fashion industry.

What's your background and how did you get started in the fashion industry?

My background is in Design Management and Marketing. I applied for an internship at Chloe when I was 18, my 2nd week in NY, and it went form there. Since then I've worked with a range of designers and artists in many capacities.

As someone who may not have had the artistic skill to create, how did you carve a niche for yourself in the industry and where did the idea for Blood is the New Black come from?

The idea came from the thesis I had written in college the year before the business started. I carved a niche for us by not art directing the line. I did not and do not want to be a trend driven graphic t-shirt line. This has given our images longevity and made the line more original than others out there.

How would you describe Blood is the New Black's aesthetic and what message are you trying to convey with your line of T-shirts and the artists you choose to promote?

The line is not a sounding board for my ideas or opinions. As far an aesthetic, I think we are somewhat tongue in cheek about a lot of what we do, whether it's an inside joke, or an irreverent image. The most important thing we are trying to accomplish is to make art accessible in some way shape or form to everyone.

To build on that, do you get in on the creative process in terms of ideas or do you leave that designers and artists you work with?

I leave it up to them. I'm not an art director or a creative director. I trust their skill, and that is why they are part of our collection. With that said, if they need help with color pairings etc, I'm always there.

Your designs have been worn by American Idol alum Adam Lambert, the Gossip's Beth Ditto, and Lil' Wayne, and that's a pretty wide range of known figures. Did you think that you would reach that level of success so soon?

Soon? I've been doing this for 5 years, at times working 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, so it's been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears behind the tees. I think it's great though! It's still very surreal to me to see the tees on celebrities! It's even fun to see them on people around town.

There are so many up and coming designers, artists and photographers. How do you decide who you want to work with?

There's no formula to it. I try to work with artists who's work doesn't resemble other artists that we're working with. We want to keep the line fresh and on the same token, I guess we have something for everybody considering we're working with close to 30 artists. Overall, if an artist has a good attitude and is fun to work with, it always makes the job much more enjoyable.

According to your bio, you were once told that you'd "never work in this town again". How did you manage to overcome that?

Hahahaha. Very easily, I just looked at the source.

You recently celebrated BITNB's 5th anniversary on November 7th with a reception and gallery show that is running until December 11th. What can visitors expect to experience?

Wow! It's just a awesome grouping of our artists. From every end of the art world, ranging from Skye Parrott from Dossier, to tattoo artist Jeff P, illustrator Hannah Stouffer, and more. It's a beautiful and inspiring show.

What's next up for BITNB and what direction do you see yourself moving in?

Wow! So much stuff! We're working on the 2nd edition of our 'zine, which is limited to 3000 newsprint issues, which won't be on the web. We're launching our new site within the next few weeks, we're now selling art, 'zines, Baggu's, and BITNB wallets too! It's all so exciting and makes us happy to go to work in the morning!

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