S. So do you just want to start by telling us who you are and what you do?

R. My name’s Ralph Roberts, I’m originally from Blackpool but have been living in London for like 3 and a half years now. I’m currently working as a graphic designer for Goodhood and trying to make my own clothes. Just like whatever I feel like making.

S. I looked on your website, it seems like you’re good at every discipline, illustration, producing video content etc. Do you think that’s necessary in 2017?

R. Not really, I think the thing is most of the stuff on my website is from University and you have to do a bit of everything. I also like to look about at what else is out there and sort of try it, give it a go, see if I like it and see if it creates the aesthetic that I’m after. So I’m actually trying to get into embroidery now that I’ve never done before, machine embroidery. So I just like to give everything a go and keep progressing whether it’s through new media or whatever.

S. Okay, you mentioned you have an aesthetic. Do you think your aesthetic runs through everything you do? Whether it’s designing clothes or photography, do you think there’s a common thread running through all your creative work?

R. Yeah, I try to link it to my culture and where I’m from and what my interests are so, hopefully there’s some sort of synergy throughout all of it. I think if your themes are similar it should come through in my work, so hopefully it does!

S. When I was looking through your photography I could see parallels from mid 90’s New York skate videos from Zoo York and early Supreme. Were you influenced by this era of skateboarding in particular? 

R. I’ve been skateboarding for twelve years, since I was like ten, and I guess that’s where most of the things I’m interested in come from really. The fact that you’ve made that comparison kind of makes sense because when I was growing up it was all about that scene, the plain white baggy tees and low hanging jeans. The Blackpool skate scene in itself isn’t anything like that but thats why I liked it, even though everyone was into different stuff skateboarding brought all the misfits together kinda thing haha.

S. Is part of the DNA of what you do due inspired by the fact that you grew up outside of London?

R. Yeah I think it definitely is, it gives you a broader perspective on reality, I’m in the London bubble at the moment and I get really caught up in it, when I go back home I’m like shit all this other stuff exists and I dunno, at the moment skateboarding is such a big thing and blown up drastically in the past 5 years or whatever but if you’ve come from somewhere where it wasn’t, it’s pretty funny.

S. Likewise, it wasn’t seen as cool where I grew up.

R. Yeah I think London’s just a lot more ahead, it has that twenty year cycle, so the 90s is cool at the moment but I think London just gets a bit ahead of everyone else maybe?

S. How has working at Goodhood affected your work?

R. Well I’d only been in London for like 9 months or something before I got the internship in the studio. I was so stoked because it was my favourite shop. I kinda feel like I fitted in fairly well. When I joined the shop took on a fair few smaller brands from Japan. And I never really looked at Japan in any depth and now it’s a major inspiration to me not just in terms of my work but life in general. My girlfriend took me for my 21st birthday and it was totally life changing.

So yeah for sure, Goodhood really opened my eyes up to what else is out there because they’re very Scandinavian, Japanese inspired and I knew of Scandinavian design as I’d covered it in college, but I’d never really learnt about Japan. I’m really into brands like Sasquatchfabrix, Needles, Unused, Kapital, Wacko, I only really knew of Japanese street wear brands like Neighborhood, Wtaps before.

S. Did you study at university in London?

R. Yeah I went to Central Saint Martins

S. Did you get a lot out of your course or do you think you learn more from outside of the lectures hall?

R. I didn’t really enjoy it. I don’t know whether it’s to do with Central Saint Martins or not but you know they’re in the new building at Kings Cross. It’s a beautiful building but it seems like an office building, it doesn’t seem like a very organic place to be creative. It wasn’t really my vibe, I didn’t really meet people who were into the same thing as me and a lot of the time I felt like some people and the a couple of the tutors just looked down on me, like ‘oh, that skate kid’. It felt like being back at high school but thank God I had Goodhood, that was where I found people like myself and got inspired with people who had similar interests.

I mean, I wouldn’t change anything, if I hadn’t got a place at University I wouldn’t have come to London and I would have probably gone to Manchester or wherever, and that probably would have been sound. But I’m super glad I came to London in the end, maybe it was just the wrong choice of University rather than the wrong choice of city.

S. It looks like it takes a painstaking amount of time to produce the items of clothing that you’re currently working on?

R. Yeah for sure

S.It seems completely at odds with consumer habits in today’s climate..

R. Well that’s the thing, although it takes a long time to produce anything, the blood, sweat and tears that go into it and the journey I go on and the stress that I put myself through, it makes you feel like you’ve done the work and you deserve it and learnt so much as the same time. With clothing now, I’m really into customisation. When you find an item that’s vintage and it’s just been around for years and years or produced out of necessity and has a story to tell, I find that so much more satisfying and interesting than just buying a £2000 designer jacket or whatever. That’s what I’m really interested in. I’ve not really sold anything, I’m doing it for myself at the moment. People have asked me to make them things but I’ve just not really got a lot of time with working 5 days a week. Maybe it could be a new step but I’m really enjoying making one off garments at the moment and not really getting anything produced, maybe I could later but at the moment it’s kind of refreshing to build something for myself.

S. Do you find it quite a cathartic process?

R. Yeah for sure, I’m painting a pair of Vans at the moment and I’ve never done any shoe customisation or anything like that, I’ve not picked up a paintbrush since college so it’s been really nice to concentrate on that and get super in to it. I dunno every time I come home instead of watching a film or watching telly you feel like you’re being productive and progressive.

S. So what have you got planned for this year then? What’s the next step?

R. I’ve not got any plans really, I want to do some travelling for sure, and I’ve spoken to my mates about going to South Korea. There have been some cool brands and music come out of there recently, so it would be cool to go see it first hand. But mainly I’m just gonna keep trying to explore with making clothing, do some more one off pieces, work on them one at a time and see where it goes really.

Interview by Ollie Irwin.

@ralph_colours

www.ralphroberts.co.uk