Here at RAW, we love when artists use their art as a way to express important political and social issues. As the awareness of environmental issues continues to rise, more and more brands have implemented eco-friendly business practices. With the fashion industry being the second largest polluter in the world, one RAW artist prioritizes ecology over fast fashion.
RAW Artist Elle Blackburn designs are sourced from local materials and inspired by the Earth's natural beauty. Read more about how the environment helped shape Elle Carrière's and Noémie Blackburn's brand and check them out at RAW:Montreal presents VERSE.
How did you start as an artist?
We’ve always been drawn to art. We both love to sew, draw, paint, do photography, collages, sing, play music, etc. We are very connected to the earth and for us, She is the greatest artist. We only have developed ways to interpret and create art with what She has to offer. But for us, it really started when we met while studying Fashion Design. We realized that our values and aesthetic were very similar and we decided to go into business together. When Laurence left to study Silversmithing and Gemmology, Noémie finished studying fashion, completed a certificate in Production Management and then started Jewelry Making. We are both very versatile and like to do as much as we can in our business as art can be manifested in every way.
It's absolutely fascinating that you respect, highlight and support the preservation of our ecosystems with your accessories! Can you tell us how all that started? What was the first one you made?
It started when we realized that we were both very fascinated by life cycles of raw materials. We are two spiritual beings with a strong interest for natives cultures around the world. As we all know, nowadays industries often destroy the ecosystems to offer fashionable and the cheapest products possible. We think that modern civilisations could learn better about fundamental values from our ancestors. When a Native American tribe kills an animal, they smudge the weapon before using it, and then, when the animal is killed, they give thanks to the Universe. Nothing will be lost. Meat will be shared and eaten by the community, bones will be used to create jewelry or tools, skin will be used for clothing or making musical instruments and grease will be used in different ways as a lubricant. When we started, we were collecting after-consumption bones, transforming them into wearable arts. For us, ethical mining stones and choosing organic fabrics are crucial aspects. Every day, this way of thinking inspires us testifying true gratefulness.
Can you explain the process behind making a piece? And what does it start with?
It always starts with us falling in love with Nature’s creation, and we are constantly amazed by its wonder. Laurence is obsessed with mountains and everything that crystallizes or solidifies to become mineral, and Noémie is more into the Ocean’s creations, and living beings wearing their home on their backs. We are also inspired by our everyday life and experiences. The « Sierra Madre » collection was our first collection, and it comes from a trek Laurence did on an active volcano during a full moon night. It changed her, and creating this collection was a way for her to channel and materialize the powerful emotions and learnings that this experience offered her. Our latest collection, the « Galak.Sea », is our interpretation of a mix between a shell called Patella Vulgata, that we both discovered when traveling Mexico, and constellations, as life is only fractals and repetitions. When we can see the universe through one single thing, it becomes magic and inspires us to manifest.
We love that your accessories are eco-friendly and incorporate Earth's natural beauty. Have you found it difficult to source materials and keep your business natural? What was the motivation to be eco-friendly?
Today with globalization, our society is starting to be more conscious about environmental impacts. Every day’s choices matter. Shop while asking ourselves questions such as «Do I really need it ?» or « What am I encouraging?» is an individual option that modern society is offering a large overconsumption’s buffet. Encouraging people to make responsible decisions that do not cost the earth’s survival is our daily motivation. We don’t like when we are missing information, so we dig as much as we can to ensure traceability of the material. Also, we like to talk about our products in ALL their facets; from a travel inspiration to the conception process behind, and then to the final design’s symbolic. We’ve always been eco-friendly, as it’s been in our families since forever so for us, it’s not an effort, it’s natural. Having the opportunity to transpose it in our business is a choice we’ve made by going into business together and it just makes sense for us. We would never go in the opposite path.
When someone sees ELLE BLACKBURN accessories, how do you want them to feel?
We want our clients to feel the power in which their new artifact was created. We want our creations to act symbolically for them, to become totems, medicines they will wear to feel better in their bodies, or just to embellish what is already perfect. We want our clients to be comfortable while wearing our t-shirts or jewelry, to be able to go out anywhere and feel stylish, strong and proud by wearing conscientious garments that are respectful of their environment!
What is your goal with your art?
If people can feel the magic through our creations, we know we’ve done it right! There’s a saying that says « If you heal yourself, you heal others around you ». We do our art because it helps us to stand tall every day. It is our way to channel our emotions and experiences. If we can touch people's heart and mind by doing it, then we’ve completed our mission!
How do your surroundings and environment influence your creations? Where do you go for inspiration?
Inspiration is all around us, in every beings and situation we face. We all have scars and we should be able to wear them proudly. This is one of the reasons we like raw materials and small tool marks on our jewelry. We also come from a city that thrives on cultural diversity, and we have the chance to learn from these every day. But most of it comes from traveling, physically or spiritually, by discovering new scenery and landscapes allowing us getting richer simply through observation and contemplation.
I can't wait for everyone to see your work in person at your upcoming showcase! Do you have anything new or any surprises for the RAW Montreal show coming up?
We’ll bring several unique jewels and home decor that we’ve made through the years and that somehow haven’t been commercialized for different reasons. Also, some pieces that we’ve created just for fun for experimental purposes will be presented at the event for the first time!
Click here to get your tickets to make sure you get to see Elle Blackburn designs in person.
RAW Montreal Presents: VERSE April 19th @ Le Theatre Rialto 7:00pm