Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope… While it’s getting excessively harder to ignore your ex’s latest update, discovering talent is a piece of cake. Especially when they have something new to offer; Chris Rellas, a.k.a @ copylab, brings Johannes Vermeer and Chanel, or Paul Delaroche and Givenchy under the same roof.
Fashion has been matched with everything from technology to music to design – however historical art is the one area that hasn’t been exposed. How did your idea of this come about?
I started Copy Lab because I wanted to figure out some way to bring my two favorite things (fashion and art) together. Most of the images are meant to be funny and ironic. I want to make people laugh while also learning a thing or two about the brands we lust after and the art we love to look at. I’m an art history major, and my main interests are in modern and postmodern art, so the idea of mixing high and low, and old and new are naturally really compelling to me.
Specifically though, I thought of Copy Lab while interning at Nasty Gal. I was looking at denim ads and simultaneously scrolling through a favorite art blog when the idea to bring the two together hit me.
What excites you about fashion?
For me, when I was young and realized I was gay, fashion was this way for me to be brave and to learn how not to care what other people said to me. For that reason, fashion has always been a big deal to me. In my own life, fashion has been a way for me to test the waters, build my confidence, and show people what I’m all about.
What excites you about art history?
Traditional art speaks for itself; it’s paintings and sculptures that work within the confines of what we normally think of as “good” art. Whereas contemporary art knows no bounds: graffiti, ready-made, etc., allows contemporary art to have a much broader definition.
What would, say Delaroche’s reaction be to your interpretations?
Delaroche was a serious painter, he adhered to fairly strict guidelines. With that said, artists are unpredictable! I hope he would get a laugh out of them. (Side note, while in Paris this year I’ve lived on the street where Delaroche’s studio was located. So if nothing else, we have that in common.)
Would you say your mom’s closet played any part in your field of work today?
My mother, my grandmother, and countless friends… I take inspiration from every closet I’ve come across. But I also look to stores and media, including blogs and Instagram. I tend to surround myself with a lot of imagery, so I have a lot to choose from.
Do you have to isolate yourself to do your work? What is your process like?
Most of my work is inspired by what I find after searching for hours on the internet. In the beginning, I was making works for the sake of creating images that I found funny and visually interesting. But now I’ve been challenged to push a little further and make some commentary… I take into consideration what is happening in art and fashion today. I try to play with those ideas and create images that actually mean something.
“I was looking at denim ads and simultaneously scrolling through a favorite art blog when the idea to bring the two together hit me. “
With Instagram, Photoshop is closer to artists than their mothers. What would you say stands out in your altered pieces compared to any other artist that does modern art using Photoshop?
When working with Photoshop (and when trying to make one object really stand out in an image), scale and dominance are obviously very important. Since I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I also spend a lot of time trying to make the items I add to the paintings look believable.
How is your future shaping up for you from where you stand? What are your plans for after-college life?
There’s so much that I’m interested in, but I definitely want to work in fashion. Ideally I’d love to do something creative with a few close, like-minded individu- als, whether that be a concept store, a magazine, or something digital.
Who’s house would you have to see your artwork hanging in order to be able to say “I’ve made it!”?
Any of the designers whose work I’ve integrated into Copy Lab pieces! Also, my grandmother – she has great taste.