Andy Ward
A Decade Of Custo

It's 10 years this year since I began working with Spanish fashion label Custo Barcelona, a few pieces below from the current SS 2015 collection and below them some favourites from the last 10 years.
Back In 2005 when I started working with Custo the digital print revolution was in it's infancy and brands were beginning to experiment with the possibilities of printing onto an ever increasing array of materials. Illustration was beginning to push it's way forward into new territories and Custo had embraced these new opportunities with gusto, commissioning illustration as art for apparel. All over garment printing, faithful reproductions of detailed illustrations as wearable art was not a common thing back then so to be working with a company charting new territory was an exciting place to be.
Custo were expanding rapidly in the mid 2000s and were pushing hard with shows and opening new stores around the world. I got to see my work at the catwalk shows and go to a few of the after show parties too, good times. My work was taken beyond the apparel and I began designing flyers and invites for the shows, and then on to accessories, footwear, jewellery, soft toys, and customising an aeroplane at one point for a collaboration with MTV. I remember customising a catamaran too, and an interior for a cruise ship but I never saw them in service, not sure if they made it.

By nature, fashion must continue to offer up new and different material, my work went through endless development over the years with Custo as I pushed for new ways of stylising my ideas to keep the new seasons pitches fresh.
Pitching work blind each season is also high risk with a lot of rejection. I have piles of rejected ideas, from which the frustration inspires harder work the next time around.
Deadlines can be very tight too, the custom aeroplane above was a 48 hour turnaround and meant dealing with multiple clients as MTV, Vueling & Custo all had brand interest and limited space. Working the fire exits, windows, wing shapes into the design too, I think the plans for the plane from the airline came in around half way through the job with only a few hours to deadline. It was also rendered in illustrator to allow for the decals to be blown up, which I'd never used before and had to buy and learn through youtube tutorials while the job was live. But I got to design a plane!

Dissecting my style, breaking it down into individual components and pushing each component in separate directions allowed me to create spin off styles that were still satisfying and rooted in my overall style.  I pushed the cartoon element of my work, the figurative element, the naive element, the subversive element and created a different series of work based on each element. The figurative work allowed me to draw more elegant women that wouldn't have worked in another style, the cartoon element became more Japanese, Kawaii and cute. The naive element broke down my style to marks, simple and abstract at times, and the subversive element came up with a few rock and roll slogans.

The SUKI character I created for Custo was based on my first daughter Frenchie and appeared in the first collection I worked on with Custo, SS 2006.

Suki’s development as a character ran somewhat parallel to Frenchie's development as a child and I drew on her experiences when working with Suki. The infatuation kids have with growing up, being bigger, and the speed at which they achieve this rubbed off on me in my keenness to see Suki grow too. I found it hard working on old themes, ones I felt the character had grown out of because running parallel to my ideas were the real desires of the real child who was the inspiration for Suki. They must grow together. It’s a fascinating, exciting experience witnessing kids grow up and as we all grow as creatives too, other than a quick glance over the shoulder to remind ourselves of who we really are there’s no looking back. That’s my attempt at a link to introducing my chosen title for the film below which was ‘Keep On Growing’... commissioned by Custo back in 2011 to launch their kids line 'Custo Growing'.
Some stills from the film below too in case your device isn't Flash happy.


This may be the last season my work appears with Custo, fashion moves on as brands continuously remodel their image. The digital print revolution has happened and the processes Custo was developing 10 years ago are now common place. High street stores are full of all over digitally printed garments, and I'm happy to say illustration is much more widespread than it was 10 years ago.  It's been a great ride!
Below are a few rejected ideas from the hard drive of broken dreams. Thanks for reading!

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