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BUBA SOLAK- sustainable artist from North Macedonia: "Money can't buy style"

Today we are pleased to introduce a great friend of our association ARTE.M and one of the art residents of our Art Center Caravel on Madeira Island . Buba Solak, artist, restorer, teacher...her special passion is painting on clothes...through her own style and abstraction she transforms an old dress into an exclusive piece of art.

Buba, we know you're an accomplished artist, but I was wondering how you came to incorporate your abstract style into your garment designs. What sparked the idea of painting garments?

Creative people create new ideas, innovations, projects, through work that consciously or unconsciously arises through their imagination. For me specifically, the best ideas or sketches arise unplanned, unexpectedly, like Marcel Duchamp, when he accidentally left his bicycle on the stand more than 100 years ago, without any particular intention, and I started like that without any particular purpose and it lasts ten if not for many years...

I paint, transform, recycle existing materials-textiles, leather, synthetics, ...and thus extend the life of my favorite piece of clothing, redesign or, if you want, recycle materials, restoration, canning, etc. a graphic artist with many years of experience and work on projects with conservation and restoration and practice somehow fit into this "new for me", Repaired, Deadstock, Up-cycled...

Now why did I link this? ! ...because everything is connected, maybe even though I started spontaneously, accidentally..., emotionally from a piece of clothing, then very consciously and with a plan we continued according to the principle of "from old to new", or recycling and with construction material, furniture and everything that was needed during the construction of our loft, in which we still live today, "our happy place", and I did not stop researching and working - recycling and transforming.

Please describe how your accolades have affected your artistic career and wearable art outlook.

My last experiment, where I achieved a number of positive results and reduced the criticism, was the Fashion Weekend in Skopje, where I participated in the production of zinc and offset sheets for printing graphics. It is very important for me to be able to do this, but it is possible to be able to do it with the fact that the amount of money we have to pay for it, as we have and in the region, that we have a small amount of discarded material in the collections of nakit and additives and the same discarded material that is also the most important for the production of graphics, of which some of the plots are old and have been around for 25 years.

I started painting for myself, then for my sister and friends, and later, a few months later, it became my engagement and cooperation with a boutique, orders, quite intensively.

Of course, social networks did their thing, so I started collaborations locally and outside of Bitola, regionally, and all over the country, that's my recognition everywhere! - outside my zone and the people who were close to me and I knew them

I used to paint for someone who I don't know at all and entrusted me with a piece of his favorite clothing, an even greater recognition is when I see the painted piece, as someone wears it around the city, or at an event, festival, music video, concert...

And now after hundreds of painted pieces, ten years of work - what shoes, what dresses, coats, bags, suitcases, jewelry and other accessories, and I have no desire to compete and ask for officially signed recognitions, since that was not my goal, at least not through this work .

Is there a tale you'd want to share about a customer you worked with or an item of clothing you altered? Were there any unexpected responses or demands?

The long-term work brought many collaborations, many personalities, characters, situations, and here you have a question of style, but also a narrow idea and an idea, and it's not quite that simple, because a "little creative miracle" is expected from you. from another. To be honest, I've expressed myself the easiest when I'm given free rein to do what I want, or to be a Beetle completely, or to let the model, shape and color say what they need to, almost without worrying about an unsatisfied customer-order, situation.

Which principles are most essential when preparing classes for abstract garment design students? How can you assist your students express themselves creatively?

From the young people, from my students, I always expect, love and ask a lot! Because there are conditions, I see potential, there is information, there is everything... in contrast, we, for example, did not have part of this and we created it... that's why I ask for a lot!

Since I have been working in education for many years, I do not like the system of education in our country, and even more broadly, I think that programs should be inserted, where from a very young age, from the earliest years, one should work on developing creativity in children, as well as awareness of protection, ecology, empathy, to be considerate of things, the environment, the world in general, and for all this we need great support, first of all from the family, institutions, the state - it's a chain, it's a process and one cannot do without the other , but there is no giving up, it must be for the good of all of us, and I am here as far as I know and am able to encourage the idea and desire of my teenage students.

How can you make sustainable art and teaching methods a part of your Macedonian practice?

Although we are a small environment, a small country with financial and other problems, I notice signals and a desire to do something. Maybe it's not a capacity like the European countries that have it, there are individuals and groups working here, non-governmental associations work on projects, connect and collaborate around, and I and my students use every good opportunity to collaborate in such interesting projects and we also have good experience, for example several projects through the Erasmus programs.

Have you or your students been bullied for their dress or personal expressions? How do you address such cases?

Unfortunately, bullying is not something that is unknown in our country, it exists everywhere, it is often present among teenagers, it is a reality. A few years ago, we worked very actively to avoid it, the entire teaching staff is involved. the problem is being worked on, at least in my school. My colleagues and I react, we talk, we involve the professional service, parents and through examples, current events, videos, conversations we manage to overcome problems, and to investigate it with examples that will be interesting and modern for students of this age.

I often repeat to my students, I even think that I bored them with the phrase "Money can't buy style", in order to encourage them to be more creative and without a lot of money to become fashionable, to build a style, not to be influenced on social networks and unimportant characters with a bad example, but to work on their intellect and that will make them beautiful, modern, complete with a beautiful Style!

Can you share a bit about your style and how it has changed over the years? Do you have any tips for people who want to find their unique style?

Endless Experimentation! I studied in a secondary art school and a faculty of fine arts and everything was allowed there, without restrictions, unusual for others, but with artists, you know, if the style is not strange, original, unique, it is not interesting, especially the early teenage period.

I think that was when I was looking for myself the most, I went through all the stages and influences related to company, music, influential person, film... I wouldn't be very wise and I wouldn't send messages like,, this is the best, this is how it should be, this is what is worn , but I would mention that style is something that should reflect you, personally and without pretense, style is comfortable, pleasant and honest feeling, at least for me, now and after so many years of self-demand, but with experience.


How does your Macedonian heritage affect your wearable art, and how does culture shape your edge?

I don't see any difference and influence from my Macedonian origin in my expression, work, presentation, etc... because so far I haven't had any restrictions or situation that would have stopped me in the same way. Everything is a state of mind, we ourselves create such thinking and then enslave it. I think that it takes time, place and way to present ourselves, it also takes experience, knowledge, familiarity, a lot of dedication and attention... for everything I think that it is so, not only in fashion-wearable art, for the influence in the environment where we work and live.

How can Macedonia's fashion sector become more environmentally frindly? What's the future of sustainable fashion?

On a global level, Macedonia is not a factor, but we are all together and what a problem with the waste that arises from the textile industry, all that uncontrolled production, waste, consumption of natural resources, chemicals, the manual/insensitive and horrible use of the this a problem! First of all, I would like the new generations and young people to receive a proper education from an early age, which would teach them about this problem, then I would work to show them that in order to be different, interesting, modern, practical, thrifty, you have to very much, that every individual is a part of that process and the solution is in quality education, and a lot of work from all of us, which we need more than ever.


What words of wisdom do you have for people who want to be inspired by your work and become influencers in the field of sustainable fashion and wearable art?

I am still an optimist, at least I try to stay, but we should all be diligent optimists! Let's start from ourselves, me, you, let's expect results, let's see results. Let's think about whether we need another piece of clothing? , or anything, to inform ourselves about quality, what else we would do and how we would use it, how we would contribute and not just be static and lazy consumers. (in construction, architecture, food, clothing, the wider industry).

It will be a big fight, inevitable and important for everyone..... Globally. so I'll say it like I'm in class... Before you buy something new, think about whether you need it, how you'll use it, is it something you already have!?



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