Cheryl Humphreys | Free People
How They Wear It: Cheryl Humphreys
February 12, 2016
Los Angeles, CA
Cheryl Humphreys, an LA-based artist, member of the Tappan Collective and a woman making a name for herself in the world of printing and embossing. “I like to tickle people’s imaginations, create an intimate experience for the viewer and a space to re-sensitize and reconnect.” Her designs are meticulously simple, but don’t let that fool you. They are brilliantly bright and compelling…much like her personality. She has perfectly messy hair, effortless and blonde via the warm Cali sun. Her style follows suit. She’s wearing broken-in boyfriend jeans and an old vintage white tee with perfectly worn holes. She throws on a denim jacket and cracks a joke about wearing a “Canadian tuxedo.” She’s breezy and confident in her denim on denim, like she’s been wearing it her whole life.
Where were you raised? Tell us a bit about your journey to where you are now, artistically and geographically…
Raised in Baltimore, MD. Came out to California to study communication arts at Otis College of Art & Design. My first real job out of college was as a junior graphic designer at a small design studio in West Hollywood, where I met my now partner (in life and work). We instantly became best friends and colleagues and brought out each other’s strengths working together. From there, we went on and worked at another design studio together. Last July, we broke off and started our own art & design house called Arms. I wanted more time to work on my art and owning our own studio had always been a dream of ours. We run Arms out of our house and I bounce back and forth between client projects and my own work. The juggle keeps me fresh and engaged. One practice always influencing the other.
Do you think growing up where you did influenced your personal style in any way?
My immediate surroundings have always influenced what I am into, what I am inspired by, what I make and, with that, comes personal style — so yes.
When did you first realize that you wanted to become an artist?
I am still on that journey, to understand what it means to be an artist. Art is something I make.
What role, if any, does LA play in your creative process?
LA has a great printmaking community — rich with fascinating and supportive leaders, which has positively influenced my navigation of the craft of printmaking.
Do you feel your art and personal style are interconnected? How might these two aspects of your Self play with/against one another?
Both are forms of visual expression. I definitely purchase clothes that I am inspired by — whether it’s an amazing color, fabric, pattern or graphic that then, consciously or subconsciously, transpires into something in the studio — or vice versa… Something in the studio awakens a search for something I suddenly NEED to have in my wardrobe. There is a dialogue there, absolutely.
Style-wise, what are some of your necessities?
A pair of Levi’s that fit in all the right places, and fun socks.
What do you hope to communicate through your aesthetic?
I am nostalgic for the tangible in this digital age. I believe that our personal belongings hold our secrets and memories. With this comes a passion for vintage shopping and a tendency to hoard. I love imagining the story behind my current favorite 1982 MTV shirt or the really strange rip on the front of my favorite pair of 1975 Levi’s. I guess it’s less about what I hope to communicate and more about what I hope to discover.
What assumptions might people might make of you based on your style?
My boyfriend often tells me that I look like I just walked off the set of “That 70s Show”.
If you could translate the work of any artist to your wardrobe, who would it be? Also, why?
The way Donna Summer sings — I <3 disco!
What makes your style “yours”? How do you set it apart?
My vintage items AND I get almost everything tailored. My best friend told me once that fashion is really about how something fits — I guess it stuck.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
“Make work that matters, have an opinion, and love something other than yourself.” — James Victore
And the worst?
I tend to not remember bad advice.
What’s next? Anything exciting on the horizon?
Spatially Speaking — A group show that opens February 11 and will be up through March 19, featuring work by a bunch of talented babes — also from Tappan Collective. And I turn 30 next month. I have never felt more myself so I say bring it on!
Can you tell us a little bit about the “Friendship Bracelets” series?
The “Friendship Bracelets” were part of a larger body of work for my first solo exhibition, last November, “I just have this feeling…” where I was exploring the visual dialogue of communication in a digital age, questioning our current paradigms through matters of love, memory and an acute curiosity for the ever-evolving definition of connection.
I went back through text threads with loved ones and screenshot coming-of-age conversations I had with them over text. From the screenshots, I took just the outline of each text bubble and embossed them into hand-dyed paper, so that the viewer cannot read the conversation but can see the back and forth, giving the them just enough to let their imagination wander.
It baffled me, and still does, that some of these very intense and emotional conversations were happening over text messaging — via a device devoid of emotion. Why is that? Was it easier? Each one is dated, and titled with a pull-quote. The one between my best girlfriend growing up and I is titled, “I may have had a sort of kinda maybe lesbian experience” dated Thu, Dec 11, 2013.
You like to play around with “digital icons that hold a lot of weight” — what do you mean by that?
Here you are referring to the digital loading symbol and the pending text bubble I embossed into paper. The loading symbol appears when your phone or computer is working hard to get you what you need and the pending text bubble displays when someone is typing you back via iMessage — I think it’s interesting to take these shapes that we have only see behind a screen and make them dimensional, tactile pieces of work. These digital icons that we are all TOO FAMILIAR with come in and out of our day on a daily basis. A lot could be coming at you with that (…) from a friend, boss or boyfriend typing you back.
You took a five month break from Instagram — why? … and how did that feel?
My five-month break from Instagram was inspired by the need to let my mind get bored. I noticed I wasn’t giving my brain or eyes a break. As soon as I found downtime, I would pick up my phone and scroll, whether it was in line at the grocery store or waiting for a friend at a restaurant. Why am I thumbing through other people’s memories rather than letting my own imagination wander? So I had to switch it up. I am still not BACK in the way I was on it before — I have committed to doing a post every two weeks or so to keep my feed updated BUT the original ideas that come from a quieter mind are too valuable to give up ;) Plus the reconnection to the present moment — also too precious to give up.
As told by Free People