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INSPIRATION BEHIND 'CREATURES OF THE NIGHT'

The 1980s was a hugely influential time for me. I feel lucky to have grown up in this era and was enthralled by the visuals, the music and the ideas of the time. The 1980s is a constant source of inspiration to me and with this new collection, Creatures Of The Night, this is no exception.

In this project, I have explored fashion, music, horror and SFX. I began with a lyric from Laura Branigan’s Self Control and went on to explore themes involving vampires, werewolves, animal instincts, the city lights and young adult themes of letting go and becoming something different. I called this 'thrilling times' and put together some images from a few places I'm sure you'll recognise.

The 80’s era is famous for punk and alternative youth culture movements - which are intrinsically linked to music and fashion. Music and fashion are the main ways in which people can be expressive and share their feelings. Both music and fashion have huge community and message.

As well as music and fashion, there is movies. What I loved about the movies of the ‘80s were the make up and SFX. This is especially true for horror and fantasy films. I found both the visuals of the movies inspiring as well as the themes. Many horror movies of the 1980’s lead with the idea of becoming something extraordinary. Lost Boys being one of them, a story about people who don’t fit in and how they find belonging under the cover of darkness. Fashion and music played a huge part in portraying their style and ambition. The Lost Boys is a vampire movie which explores themes of temptation and becoming something else.

Fright Night is another fangtastic vampire film which was a huge influence on this collection. The 1985 film has a suburban domestic setting and is about a boy who discovers his neighbour is a vampire. The film tells a story about how something exciting and extraordinary is hiding in plain sight and there to corrupt the ‘girl next door’. Like many vampire films, the vampire is subverting the domestic life and is one who is free from restraints and responsibility. Much of youth culture is about subverting norms and non conformity - it’s very much a teen cliche.

Teen Wolf and other scarier werewolf films also share these themes. Under the cover of darkness, a person becomes an animal and gives into desire and loses inhibitions. There is an abandonment of the every day as life becomes solely about night and the things within it. Teen Wolf is a movie that happens during the day, however the theme is still about Scott wanting to discard his old life and become something extraordinary - and this happens when he becomes the wolf. He’s just a guy who wants to have fun and live life without cost.

“I live among the creatures of the night.”

This line from Self Control by Laura Branigan, for me, sounds dangerous and exciting. To be a wild animal following instinct and living in the moment. To be doing something without thought for consequence. This is very hedonistic and why it seems thrilling - both scary and exciting.

Self Control - Laura Branigan

Self Control by Laura Branigan was the initial influence for this collection. As a single track and music video, it encapsulates the themes of being spontaneous, letting go and doing something forbidden. The song is an escape from the ordinary. It isn't just the day that isn't as exciting - its the people too. Being surrounded by strangers is an alluring prospect as you can be seen as something else. In stepping into the city night, you are stepping out of your life and the things that are trapping you or holding you back.

April 1984 saw the release of Self Control, the first single and title track of her third album. The track was a cover of Italo disco artist Raf and this new version was arranged by Harold Faltermeyer (Top Gun Theme & Axel F) - so quintessentially 80’s with a blend of synth and rock guitar. Both Laura’s vocal and the video for Self Control were very seductive and erotic. MTV initially refused to play the controversial video until it was reedited to exclude some of the more risqué elements.

Branigan told Associate Press, “The song was about losing your self-control to the night or to someone,”.

The video was directed by Academy Award winner William Friedkin who famously directed the Exorcist. Overall the clip is seductive and sexually suggestive as well as dark, foreboding and mysterious. The music video has Branigan perform the track while being seduced by a masked stranger who represents the night. The story begins at night on the city streets. There are city lights, a nightclub and a casino. A stop sign flashes red and fills the screen to act as a warning. Branigan then spots a masked stranger in NY cab and feels compelled to follow him as he takes her on a journey through a mix of scenes which are both nightmarish and seductive. The story continues in what could be a private apartment party where masked ballet dancers live out their fantasies that see Branigan become overwhelmed. The video ends with dawn light coming in through the window. The dancers now exhausted and sleeping as Branigan has a final moment with the masked stranger before he vanishes into the sunlight.

In a clip from Entertainment Tonight, Laura Branigan spoke of the controversy;

“I don’t try to blatantly seduce anyone, I just do what is me”.

On Exorcist director William Friedkin;

“He has made such incredible films (French Connection/Exorcist)… he wanted to flex some muscles… so much can be done with video and more and more directors are becoming interested. Instead of a montage of shots or a performance video, we wanted to make a little movie. So we sat down and I told him my fantasy’s and he came up with a few of his own, so we put them together.”

The lyrics in Self Control talk about living a fantasy that is thrilling. It is a place that is both frightening and seductive. For me the line “I live among the creatures of the night” really speaks to me. Creatures of the night is a reference to Bram Stoker’s Dracula - the most famous vampire. The city itself is a symbol of temptation and abandonment -  “In the night, no control”.

There is also a theme of dissatisfaction with the everyday and a wish to be someone different. The lyrics talk about a restricted life that the singer wants to escape. “You help me forget to play me role, You take my self, you take me self control”. In becoming a vampire, it is said that you are selling your soul - that you are giving something up in exchange for fantasies. There is a theme of abandoning responsibilities and giving into your desires.

The song also mentions a painted girl which may be a reference to ladies of the night and vice. Again, this is a symbol of what is forbidden and also a symbol of something not as it seeming and being more complicated. The city is a dangerous place and the temptations and vices do not come without a price. There is excitement in the risk. A pair of dice are thrown at the casino table.

“A safe night, I'm living in the forest of a dream, I know the night is not as it would seem,”

Even thought the city is dangerous and there is a feeling of no control, there is reassurance in the fact that it is an authentic desire. Life in the day time has restriction that can be suffocating, so perhaps the night is the only time you can live the life you instinctively feel is true. What is reliable is your instinct and your gut feeling.

“I must believe in something, so I'll make myself believe it, That this night will never go.”

As Laura Branigan said in the interview with Entertainment tonight, “I just do what is me”. There is the feeling that it’s the right thing to do for her soul and for her needs. Branigan said “… sensuality is not something you can build, its something that comes from within”. To be instinctive is to be authentic.

Creatures Of The Night is a collection that explores what our hearts desire. A need to be ourselves and to step out of the day to day and to be released into the night. Creatures Of The Night is a story of leaving your world and stepping into an exciting, new, and mysterious alternative.

There are many elements of the collection that focus on different influences and help to create the overall ensemble. Here are some brief notes on my thoughts and my choices.

Dusk & Dawn - Vampire Eyes

I initially drew eyes in colour pencil using procreate as I wanted to get a classic illustration feel that could have come from the 1980s. I chose to use actress and model Brooke Shields since she is someone who was iconic during the ‘80s. I chose eyes from the same Photoshoot which was for a Vogue cover. For me, the eyes represented communication. I felt their could be a dialogue between the viewer and the eyes looking back. I wanted the situation to remain ambiguous - could it be hunter or prey? The reason it is just the eyes, and no face,  is because I wanted the viewer to feel like that was all that mattered. On seeing the eyes, the gaze is hijacked from any other distractions. I chose to use vivid colours to show something that looked like a mix of make up and natural animal markings. I also chose the iris to be unnatural, wild and extraordinary. The eyes are set on a contrasting bright green background to emphasis the eyes only and to also serve as a warning. The colours bright like a poisonous animal. These are the eyes of a human that has turned into an apex predator.

Dinner Date & Love Hurts - Vampire Mouth & Bite

Like the eyes, this was also initially drawn in colour pencil to replicate the immediate, spontaneous art experience - a sketch straight to paper. The open mouth showing fangs is an iconic symbol of the vampire. On back of the Lost Boys VHS, it shows a similar image. Rocky Horror also uses a mouth as does the Rolling Stones. Many artists in the ‘80s used the mouth in various graphics. The mouth, eyes and hair would be focal points of illustration There is something sensual about the mouth and it is a provocative image on its own. Often, in the movies, the scene showing fangs is the moment the victim realises a person in front of them is a vampire and by that time it is too late. I wanted the fangs to be playful as this collection isn’t explicitly violent - more suggestive. I also chose to use a vampire bite blood drop as a graphic. This is also a classic vampire image. The bright red and white creates a striking image.

Wild Tiger Print

I have used tiger print to demonstrate the animal influences. This is a wild collection and it needed this backdrop to complement the eyes and mouth. I decided to keep the tiger print a typical composition but use a fade effect. Gradients were such an important part of ‘80s graphics and since these colours are so closely matched, it seemed a perfect thing to do with the tiger print.

The Colours Used In Creatures Of The Night

The colours are the final major part of this collection. Even though many of the influences are horror themed, I wanted the colours to be from the city and it’s wild night life. The colours needed to be bold and not dark. I chose black and white as base colours since they are so important in ‘80s graphics. The other colours form the gradient effect used in the tiger print and the bright green. These colours make me think of tropical nights and are very vibrant. The mood is energetic and these colours needed to stand out and be heard. The collection influences are fashion, music, horror and seduction. The colours are the provocative and seductive part.

This new collection has been an invigorating experience to design. I am proud to present it to you all. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have creating it. You can view the collection here and it will be available for some time.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and if you have any comment about the collection please write to me at info@sstutter.co.uk