Inspirer Talk – Judy Blame

Words: Aimee Plumbley

Judy Blame is a stylist and art director, his work is tinged by his punk aesthetic. Judy explained his previous projects, ideas and things that have inspired him and continue to do so; “anything can inspire me, from a button, postage stamp to a record”.

Judy highlighted a project where he worked with Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs on customising denim jackets. The brief required Judy to marry the customising aesthetic on top of a hideously expensive denim jacket- it enabled Judy to take a very street idea and to “shamelessly” push it through a posh Paris fashion house. Judy has also worked with Commes des Garcon, and also Neneh Cherry, Björk, Boy George and Kylie Minogue.

“I’m in a position of privilege, I’m chipping away from the inside rather than just confronting the outside. There’s a thin line to my work, and I like to tread on it.” – Judy on his non-conformist attitude.

Throughout his extensive career spanning over 35 years, Judy has taken many stylised photos. However, he admits that his fashion photography is quite simple: “If Ray Petri [I wouldn’t be where I am without him] taught me one thing about taking pictures; is to think about the person first, the photograph second and the outfit last.” “You don’t need everything and the kitchen sink to take a good fashion photograph”.

Most recently, Judy has worked with the Institute of Contemporary Art to put on a solo exhibition. To coincide with this Judy decided to go back to his roots and the time he spent in Manchester in the 1970s, where one of the mediums to find out something about a band or gig was the Fanzine. Judy commissioned what he termed a “posh fanzine” called ‘Riot’ as an alternative to a catalogue. It contains pieces from Judy’s archive and also exclusive contributions from the likes of Massive Attack, Dave Baby, Juergen Teller and so on.

A member of the audience probed Judy more about the collages he has created:

“I’m not that confident about my drawing, and I’m a big fan of collage as a way of illustrating an idea… A lot of my work has a really graphic side to it when I look at something I don’t just look at it as a picture, I like to crop or edit I like to see it not on a page. I like to collect imagery and then put it all together, I’m a bit of a magpie, and I’m always on the hunt for a good idea.  I either stick it in an ideas book, or record it in some other way. For me it’s like building a visual dictionary of everything that appeals to me… Collage just doesn’t have to be made from magazines or stickers. My latest thing is bottle tops in every colour. I’m not sure how to use it yet, but I’m waiting for the collection to inspire a new idea for a project”.

When asked how Judy got to where he is today, he answered: “luck”. Judy was first noticed in the punk/club scene, as “back in the day, we all wore what we were doing at the time- like walking adverts”. Judy scavenged material to make his jewellery, and was commissioned to make one off pieces- this eventually led from one thing to another to where he is today.

“It’s not all been glittery, but I’ve enjoyed waking up every day to do what I do.”

A big thank you to both Judy Blame and Malcolm Garret for their contribution to the Inspirer series, and the Punk workshop they ran.

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