Fashion is just another channel for artist Minna Gilligan. Her colour-saturated works have been exhibited at galleries including the NGV and NGA. Internationally, she’s been commissioned by fashion juggernauts such as Urban Outfitters and ASOS, and her work appears regularly in Tavi Gevinson’s ROOKIE magazine.
Her outfits, regularly documented online through her blog and Instagram, are a collision of pattern and print, often with a good amount of glitter thrown in. It’s no coincidence that she often looks like a character from her work. Her fashion memoir-scrapbook, Time After Time, comes out tomorrow. We chat to Gilligan about playing dress ups, and that one awkward-style phase she went through.
BS: What do you wear to the studio every day?
MG: I wear clothes that are too dressy or good to be worn while painting. My clothes are really precious to me, but I love wearing them, so I just do. I don’t wear an art smock, and people say “you paid too much for that, why are you wearing it while you’re painting?” It’s nice to make a painting in an outfit that is sentimental or feels important to me.
BS: How do you approach dressing each day?
MG: I’m always referencing things. I could be obsessed with a particular song, colour or pattern at the time, and I want to narrate or act that out in what I wear. I like the idea of dressing with a narrative or character in mind.
BS: You write that you were quite introverted and found fashion to be a way to express yourself. Is that still the case?
MG: It’s definitely still the case, but I’m able to step out of that zone if I need to. It’s less so now than when I was in high school. Clothing sort of speaks for me without me having to get up on a stage or specifically state an opinion. I have a lot to say but I say it in ways I feel safe, like through clothing.
BS: If you were having a bad day, how would you dress?
MG: I would make sure I did my make-up really nice and put on something comfortable, familiar and beautiful. I’d make sure to wear lipstick, and then I could feel more equipped to step outside into the world.
BS: What is your go-to make-up look?
MG: I’ve worn red lipstick every day probably since I graduated high school. I like to wear foundation because I get self-conscious about my skin and my freckles, even though I would love to be less so. I like a rosy blush, like a NARS blush and a lipstick like MAC’s Russian Red.
BS: Does your artwork feed into your outfit ideas or vice versa?
MG: Everything I do feeds into the other thing. I’m all about interconnectivity and having really strong aesthetics that come through in everything I do. I enjoy vintage because a lot of the items I find have a strong emotional weight or story that’s already within them, so wearing them with a new piece builds my own story. It’s like collage – combining all these extracted elements to create something new.
BS: What are some of your favourite places to shop?
MG: The labels I really love are Alpha60, Gorman, Dress Up and things from Pet Shop Girls. I like Karen Walker at the moment, she’s come out with this really ‘70s-inspired collection. I also like shopping at op shops – mostly Greensborough Savers. It’s my haven.
BS: Did you ever go through any embarrassing style phases when you were younger?
MG: When I was younger I wanted to be the surfer chick with Roxy and Ripcurl clothing. I was never cool enough to be that girl. I recall begging to get a tank top with Roxy on it thinking it would make me a different person. And of course I fell victim to Supré in high school. But those things are fun, there’s nothing wrong with that and I don’t regret doing it.
BS: Your book is an extensive look at your personal style. What message do you want people to come away with?
MG: Hopefully people feel inspired to concoct their own protagonist and narrative to act out in the way in which they dress. The market for this book is teenage women and women in their early twenties. I hope it encourages people to explore their own style.
Time After Time is released on September 1.