Sunday, 21 June 2015

Why the Tie

The first tie that I have ever owned was one that was lying in a pile of clothes that belonged to my late father. It is a custom in the Sotho culture to gather and layout the clothing of the deceased. The family members gather and get the opportunity to select items that they like. Being directly related to my father and being the only son that he has, I was the first to be given the opportunity to select items that I would like to keep. Amongst the items was a collection of ties. At that time I had never worn a tie out of my own will nor had I owned one but some how I happened to be attracted to the red cotton tie that had a pin stripe pattern. 
Due to this particular experience in my teenage years I have chosen to make a virtual collection of the tie. The reason for this collection is to encourage wearers to desire a change in the current ties that exist. As wearers we should also ask ourselves whether this object can be used for other purposes than it just being a mere add-on to our outfits. By looking at different concepts of the tie and the current times, I wish to conjure a desire to see a change in the design of the tie to those who have worn the item before. 
For me personally It has become very relevant to me at this point in my life, mainly because of the fact that I have reached a stage where I am embracing the feeling of being comfortable in formal attire. Being exposed to the work environment in my last year of varsity, I have found myself surrounded by individuals (mainly men) who have grown familiar with the idea of wearing a suit and tie as an everyday ordinary thing. It becomes a very interesting and intriguing idea because it almost feels like some sort of transition into manly hood. The most interesting thing about it is my acceptance to the transition, 
especially being a creative as we are stereotypically identified as being eccentric. The tie is also a form of self expression to individuals who have no interest in the creative field. It is about time we see how much further it can go in terms of its creative expression. It has become my first choice because its one object out of the few that can be used to bring that creative aspect to the corporate minded person and his/her world. 
Challenges to be faced with selecting the object is that it could be quite difficult to create a interesting virtual collection. I am afraid that some of the topics that arise from the object may be repetitive because in the eyes of many a tie does not really serve of any other purpose apart from being a clothing accessory. The past traits and present traits of a tie have not significantly altered, this could mean that there might not be much to connect between the past and the present. The story behind the tie might not be as impacting or compelling as other topics such as diamonds or chocolate.
Some might argue and say that because of its different colours and designs it may not fall under the corporate umbrella. However the majority of people who wear it find themselves in boardrooms and company offices. So one could argue that it is an object that is linked to the corporate world. Lets see how much something corporate can take the trait of being outrageous and creative. By seeing it take different uses and forms. 
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how we could create a hybrid tie that best represents the current time? Join me on this “virtual collection journey”, who knows we could stumble across an idea that could mark the history of the ties evolution. As a designer my desire is for the creative field to make a great impact on the corporate environment. Just because we do not deal with numbers it doesn’t mean that the highly remunerated Chartered Accounted should look down on the designer. Instead it is time they pay careful attention to the design of the ties they wear around their neck. Hopefully it will get to a point where they need to book consultations with designers to select suitable designs for up coming board meetings.

Below is an inspiring French short story I have come across while doing some research. The Necktie tells a story of a young man (Valentin) who has found a job in the corporate world. Being 25, the corporate world looks like a great and exciting opportunity. By age 40 he doesn’t sing and hop to work like he did when he was 25 and the tie he wears at age 40 is now different to the the colourful striped one that he wore when he first started working.

Every year he happens to get a tie as a gift and it is
 interesting to see how each tie he gets becomes less
vibrant in colour.
He discovers a harmonica he used to play during his early
days and eager to reconnect with happiness he decides
to wear the colourful bowtie he received on his 40th
birthday. He make his way to town to play the instrument 
at the entrance of the Work building where he had been
The building that Valentin (main character) works in is a 65 
floor building. Each floor is a representation of his age and
the progress that he is making in the corporate ladder.
The image above shows what happens on the 65th floor.
A machine is disposing men who have finally reached
the top. They have become lifeless and their only destiny
is them being thrown into the trash. 

When I started my first job as an intern graphic designer at an I.T. company called ICS, I found my self being the only graphic designer in a group of I.T. developers and sales consultants. Employees had to dress formally to look presentable when dealing with clients. We were also advised by our superior to make sure that we wear a tie when going for a meeting with a client. Wearing formal attire and a tie took some adapting to, being in the work area was no longer exciting because I didn’t have an opportunity to express myself creatively through design and how I dressed. The neutral ties that I was wearing made me no different from the other employees who had no interest in the creative field. Instead of wearing ties that helped me express my character, I started looking like everyone else in the office.

Images of me in a suit and tie. Here I was on my way to work on the taxi. 
Thought it would be great to document and visually give you an
illustration of what a day at work would look like. 

Here are some images that I have come across that have sparked my interest in formal wear. 


Research Questions 

Looking at all of my data I have collected,  a few interesting research questions have come up that I am excited to look deeper into. One source states that the tie is worn in the work area and it is "...associated with competence and authority in both men and women."

We also are aware that ties are worn by children in primaries and high schools. We aspire to do certain things and venture into certain careers when we are children but as we grow, the desires tend to fade away or are no longer there. It could be fare to say that most people don't end up following the careers they aspired to follow as children. If the tie is associated with competence and authority, is it relevant for young children in primaries and high schools to wear it? 

Question 1

Has the standard of urban demeanor by wearing a necktie in an urban setting affected Black African men and women’s attitude towards their cultural attire and or morals?

Women are also commonly found wearing neckties but most of the sources that I have gathered give tie male attributes. Kris Strawser installation work in the Napoleon  project space is a conceptual piece that portrays silk ties protruding from the walls of the gallery and breaking the barriers between the objects and the viewer. The ties are characterised as being phallus and Olivia Jia described them as objects that possess the power of masculinity. 

Question 2
When in the past did women start wearing ties and did this practice play any role in women striving for gender equality?

Below is a video that gives viewers instruction on how to tie a Four-In-Hand knot.  Alexander Olch chose a female instructor instead of a male one. It is very interesting how he depicted the women and he played around with humour.

Incase the video does not play, please play it using 
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Question 3 
Has the tie evolved in the past years and can it be considered by socirety to be a raw material that can aid the creating of other products?

Below are images and a video from the art installation by Kris Strawser Switch. The artist has portrayed the tie in a state of being phallus. The simple silk ties have been used in an innovative way.  
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Switch by Kris Strawser

Switch by Kris Strawser

Switch by Kris Strawser

Switch by Kris Strawser

Switch by Kris Strawser

Work by Isaac Almala & Liz Simspson

These are some of the installations that I have drawn my cd cover inspiration from. These have used the tie a s a raw material for their installations. They gather the ties by asking their community to donate . Isaac explains that the process of receiving different ties makes the artwork worth while because the final product of the artwork is not predetermined. 

Isaac Almala & Liz Simspson

Isaac Almala & Liz Simspson

Isaac Almala & Liz Simspson

Isaac Almala & Liz Simspson

Isaac Almala & Liz Simspson

Isaac Almala & Liz Simspson

Guerra de la Paz

Character Profile

Willem Boshoff

The artist that I chose to create a character profile on is Willem Boshoff, a sculptor, painter and graphic artist. Willem creates conceptual art, he says that he doesn’t really understand what conceptual art is anymore but he deals with subjects that interest him. The artwork that directed me towards this artist is titled Nice Guys, Willem's old ties collection. These items are seen as being flamboyant in his eyes.

Willem was interviewed in a video and one thing he said that stood out for me was that he doesn’t belong to a specific movement. Through his art he wants to relate and belong to everyone. He goes against the idea of there being boundaries and his desire is to be everywhere and to be all things to all people. He goes on to explain that all he ever desires to be is a fine artist. Even if he were given a second chance in life to pursue other things, he would still choose fine art.

Through his art, he intends on looking at the world critically and having his own point of view. He express art that is not compromised by politics. Willem is also has a great understanding of language and text and uses it in his conceptual works.

Politically he doesn’t feel its important to consider himself belonging to particular party or club. He believes this would bring about the boundaries that he goes against. One could almost say he comes across as being neutral. Politically he seeks no affiliation, that might just cause his work and views to become one-sided. 

Purpose, philosophy and principles
Willem believes that he does not belong to any philosophy or political party. He say he doesn’t belong to a church, whether or not he is a believer is not stated but what he holds firmly is the idea of one expressing themselves by doing what they want to do. “You cannot put art in a box” is what Willem says “ It runs wild and free… the moment you can define it, it seems to die.” He inspires young artists never to stop, he stresses the fact that if they keep on believing in themselves, eventually others will also believe in them.

Willem's father was a trained carpenter and he wanted to be a sculptor at a very early age in his life, in order for him to study art in high school, he had to take a teaching course along with it. He was happy to do this because he delighted in subjects of psychological and philosophical emphasis.  His decision of becoming a sculptor was highly influenced by Henri Pretorius who was one of Willem's high school teachers during his early days . The concepts he comes up with are political, dealing with race and social class.

Willem Boshoff was born in 1951 in Vanderbijlpark, situated in Vereeniging.  Willem is currently based in Johannesburg. His academic career spans a period of more than twenty years and he is a former head of the Department of Fine Art of the University of Johannesburg. He has an honorary doctorate from the University of Johannesburg. For unknown reasons Boshoff decided not to display his artwork  in a public gallery until he was thirty years old. He had His first exhibition in 1981 at the Johannesburg art gallery. 

Stylistic innovations
He grew up with a great interest for wood, his father being a carpenter he grew up with a respect for technical expertise. I an another interview he was identified by the person who was interviewing him as an artist that works mainly with raw materials and their refinement. At the Johannesburg Art Fair he worked in collaboration with the Goodman Gallery and an art sponsor. The installation he made for the 2010 Johannesburg Art Gallery were three etched granite stones. He explains that the slabs are found rough and polished until they become shiny.  He describes this process as reinventing the wheel. 

Character and convictions
At some point in Willem’s life he was called up for military duty, it was in that camp that he experienced a resistance to military drive due to the fact that he began to embrace people of different nationalities. He could be seen as an over achiever because he believes that it is important to have the mentality of expecting to create his best artwork with every piece that he makes.

Nice Guys by Willem Boshoff

Willem displays these different ties as
flamboyant items 'close to the heart'.

An engraved silver plate accompanies each tie.

Each tie represents a personality who has featured
significantly in international news.

Cd Cover

I thought it would be a cool idea to use the same character in the Necktie animation as an extension to the cd cover. The ties that are attacking Valentin on the cd cover resemble the ones that are portrayed in Kris Strawser's Switch installation piece. The lyric used is from a song called: Jolly Roger by a band called Marathon.

"...This necktie haunts me like a strangler in the night."

design by Morena Moletsane 

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The chosen sound track.