By Angela Thouless
Angela Thouless is an artist who has been tackling the subject of urban life in her paintings since 1999 when she graduated from Gray’s School Of Art in Painting.
Since 2007, her work has dealt with the city, celebrating the patterns, textures, and surfaces of urban life, calling attention to the rich imagery that we too often overlook in our hectic daily migrations.
In 2013, she turned her attention to images inspired by her many trips to Amsterdam and the whole visual urban experience. We all know that street art is everywhere in Amsterdam and has a very DIY quality that resonates with the average person. Angela made it a point to photograph it whenever she saw a piece that seemed interesting to her.
Sometimes you just turn a corner, there's an amazing piece of art waiting for you on the other side. Sadly, a piece could last a few weeks, days or even just a few hours before someone paints over it. Once that happens that piece of art is forever lost. It's there one day and then it's gone. – Angela Thouless
In 2015, her work was featured at Het Kunstenaarsbal (Amsterdam Cultural Festival). She has exhibited her work across the UK and further afield. As well as painting large scale canvases, she also creates wall murals. As a part of the ThrowUp Gallery collective, she has been involved in delivering a number of street art projects and workshops in Aberdeen.
Recently, in 2019, she set up ‘Tribal All’ a unisex urban t-shirt brand based on original paintings inspired by her love of street art and culture. Tribe All is all about celebrating and promoting the diverse tribal cultures of the world. Did you know, the brand is for all tribes; all age groups, genders, sexualities, sizes and cultures!
How did you start your accessory brand? What are your sources of inspiration?
In 2018 I exhibited my urban paintings at Aberdeen Fashion Week. I was asked to create a piece of art that would be auctioned during the event, the proceeds of which were donated to the GACH orphanage in Kenya. For the past 5 years or so my artwork had mainly been focusing on street art. I am part of a local artists collective called the ThrowUp Gallery and Tribe All’s origins began as an idea for a workshop painting tribal like faces on old spray cans, we had used which would have otherwise thrown away giving them a second life.
When I was approached to create this art piece for GACH orphanage, I looked at the
Kenyan flag for inspiration. I decided to paint a tribal mask on an empty spray can, referencing my own background and fusing my signature style with the cultural inspiration. Encouraged by designers, I moved my prints on to garments and Tribe All was born.
Why do you do what you do? What do you like about your job?
I love creating things. It is a huge passion of mine. I see it as a big circle. One art form inspires the other.
Do you have a signature style?
Yes, my signature style is creating urban inspired tribal masks on a spray can, referencing my own street art/painting background fused with the cultural inspiration. Tribe All is a play on the words, so the message of togetherness really comes across. Tribe All, as in we are all one!
Tell us more about your most popular designs.
My most popular design to date is the Boruca Parrot Spray Can. This design is inspired by the Boruca tribe of Southern Pacific Costa Rica. The Boruca’s believe that the spirit animals of the jungle help them resist the conquistadors, so their elaborate masks are designed to represent those animals. When I first launched the brand, I began delving deeper into tribes and tribal Gods. I came across ritual masks, the non-naturalistic yet highly stylised form, I felt really embodied, powerful and highly expressive imagery and I have undoubtedly learnt a lot through my research.
We would love to hear about your studio/making time and how you connect with your clients.
Everything I paint is from things I have seen. My Amsterdam paintings are all based on photographs I have taken on my many visits there. My Tribe All faces are all based on the research I have taken into different tribes of the world. The designs begin life as paintings – some on paper, some become paintings and never do go on the t-shirts! The remain artworks in their own right. I connect with clients via social media, exhibitions, fashion shows and events I have taken part in.
In 2020 I became part of Fashion Crossover London who do all the PR for Tribe All. Fashion Crossover London is an award-winning London-based designer service platform that connects global emerging designers with international fashion buyers and industry professionals by providing an online showcasing service, e-commerce function, a London-based PR showroom, advertorial print magazine publication feature, and fashion event management. Through being part of this many great opportunities and support has come my way.
Do you have a muse?
Lady Ga Ga. She liked wearing thigs that are unique, unconventional and likes to stand out in a crowd. I like to think my designs are just that – are unlike anything else out there. Therefore, for me she would be a great ambassador for my Tribe All brand. She is a great advocate for inclusion and diversity so would help to spread that message very well too.
What's your proudest moment in your accessory designer career? What makes you a happy artist?
My proudest moment as an artist was having my Amsterdam paintings exhibited right back where they were inspired. Therefore, going back home! As a designer my proudest moment was last year when Tribe All won Barclay’s Bank Entrepreneur Awards, Rising Star, Diverse Company of The Year at the International Runway Achievers and Recognition Awards in Ireland and Scotland’s Top Fashion Designer of The Year at the 2020 Arts, Media and Fashion Award - Aberdeen Fashion Week.
Every time I see one of my paintings featured in an exhibition or when someone wears one of my t-shirts. Be it for a fashion show, photoshoot, or event that always makes me very happy.
What is your dream project? If there are no limitations, what would you like to create?
To create a collaboration of some sort with some Dutch artists. I am already planning on that with an artist friend of mine, fusing our styles together. I would also like to branch out into producing possibly other Tribe All inspired garments – streetwear in particular.
What's your accessory styling advice for your clients?
My t-shirts can be worn and styled in any way the client likes. I enjoy seeing what the stylists and models have come up with since I began this journey, so I try to let them take the lead.
What skills are necessary to be a successful designer? Do you have any tips for the aspiring artists who want to start their own accessory brand?
Be bold and don’t be afraid to take a chance. You never know where the next opportunity may take you. Everything I have ever been involved in has always led onto something else so just keep going!
Which of your designs is your favourite? Can you tell us the story behind it?
My favourite Tribe All t-shirt is the Shrunken Head Spraycan which is the main image used on my website. This design is inspired by the Jivaroan tribes. The only tribes known to have shrunken human heads that are used for trophy, ritual, or trade purposes. Many tribe leaders would show off their heads to scare enemies. I tried to make the image more fun than scary looking.
Tell us one secret that not many designers or customers know about accessory making.
All my images are based on real things I have seen and given them my own twist. My t-shirts all begin life as hand painted pieces of art by myself prior to being digitally printed.
What's your prediction on trends for accessories? What style or colour would you recommend for 2021/22 Autumn/Winter?
I have just come up with my new 2021/22 collection inspired by various cultures I had not looked at previously. I have been looking a lot into Asian cultures. I therefore think rich reds and oranges may be a trend I would recommend.
Do you have anything else you would like to let The Accessory Circle readers and customers know about you and your brand?
Some of my paintings have been featured in 3 editions of House & Garden. Elle Decoration ran editorial on my artwork too. GQ magazine featured Tribe All last year in 3 separate editions, as did. Wired and London Life, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, Elle, Cosmopolitan and Vogue have all run editorial on Tribe All. The brand was also promoted at the Urban Music Awards in 2020. Future ventures include being promoted in September 2021 at Event Savo’ which will be opening Milan Fashion Week 2021 where Tribe All will be paraded as ‘New Talent’.
London Accessory Week Team