Interview with The vague
“Choose your battles wisely and never let 'em see you sweat”
Tell us a little bit about yourself: What got you interested in handmade art or vintage? Have you taken any art classes?
Mr. Vague and I have always been interested in both fashion and history. In our previous lives (before becoming "The Vagues"), for several years Mr. Vague was a tattoo artist, and Lady Vague was a model for various artists.
When we began dating (6 1/2 years ago), Victor was working a job building race car transmissions and Vera worked in a library, and we were both ready for a career change. We already loved taking pictures and shopping for second-hand treasures, but having our own vintage clothing shop was a distant dream -- until we discovered Etsy. For the first four years we continued to work at our day jobs, doing photo shoots and increasing our inventory in our spare time. There came a point when it was clear that we didn't have time to work for other people and maintain VeraVague, and so we took the leap and quit our jobs to focus full time on the shop. We put 200% effort into making our dream a sustainable reality, and it has payed off in a way neither of us could have predicted when we first started. The rest, as they say, is fashion history.
Can you describe the time when you first realised that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
I think that, if you are a artistic person by nature, the need to create is a drive that is present from a very young age; being able to pay the bills as a working artist, however, is a fairly rare treat that requires incredible amounts of self-motivation and hard work.
We both tried various outlets for our creativity while in our twenties, but mostly as a hobby. It wasn't until we came together as a team and joined forces and that everything seemed to fall into place.
And as with so many Quit-Your-Day-Jobbers, Etsy was an invaluable launching pad that spring-boarded us into a whole new realm where-in we could not only utilize our mutual interests as a creative outlet, but let them help pay our bills, too!
How did you come up with the idea for your unique items?
In the beginning, we were less discriminating with the items we put in our shop-- if it looked good and was something we ourselves would wear, it went up for sale regardless of era. In the past few years, however, we've been able to more finely hone-in on pieces from the time periods that are our favorite: Victorian, Edwardian and Deco eras.
We're very proud of the amazing items we've been able to collect and share with the world; we do quite a bit of hand-repairing and restoration, and we're all too happy to spend a few hours hunched over antique fabric, needle in hand, if it means that we can save a piece of history from ending its days in a landfill.
How did you make it? (physical and mental process)
This questions doesn't really apply to our vintage items, but I can speak to our own personal projects. As for me [Vera], sewing is a self taught skill that was born out of basic interest, but has evolved into a bit of a necessity: because I am slight of build, it is nearly impossible for me to find garments that fit my frame, and so now instead of buying pants and dresses, I sew my own! I also have a growing collection of hand knitted sweaters that I am quite proud of, and I am working on a collection of short stories I am writing about experiences from my formative years. I recently made a short film, which you can view here: https://vimeo.com/74863734 . I maintain a blog where-in I post sneak peeks from our photo shoots and post interesting internet findings: http://veravague.blogspot.com/?view=magazine . I guess I like to keep busy!
Mr. Vague has always been interested in photography, and he takes most of the photos you see in our shop. The (somewhat) commercial photography he does for VeraVague has evolved into him becoming a free-lance wedding and portrait photographer. He set up a dark room in our studio a while back and develops his own film, and more recently he has moved into making Ambrotype and wet plate (collodion) photography using the exact same equipment, chemicals and technique that photographers used when the art was first invented, over 100 years ago! It's a fascinating process with gorgeous results (see some here: http://vagueinternational.wordpress.com).
Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
Well, being that I work online, I have become fairly internet savvy, and it's hard NOT to find inspiration all over the web. We both continue to be incredibly inspired by antique photographs and art of all kinds from all eras, but admittedly we are most drawn to the late 1800 and early 20th century aesthetics.
Do you have a favorite artisan? If yes, what draws you to that person’s work?
Too many to name! Alexander McQueen and Man Ray are just two of our go-to staples for inspiration.
What is your dream project?
We would love to take a road trip across the U.S. with a portable dark room, stopping in little towns to take tintype photos of the locals, nature and select pieces from our collection.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Choose your battles wisely and never let 'em see you sweat.