A Columnversation...with Hermione McNamara

The Columnversations (I know! Took the day off after I coined that one, let me tell you) are designed to be a flow of information - not a stuffy Q and A interview. At Maison de Choup, we’re all about talking and listening, so these pieces should reflect a collaborative interaction between friends. We’re doing away with more restrictive formats, to better show you how we value those intimate conversations that everyone has (and desperately needs) during these [deep breath] UNPRECEDENTED TIMES. 

So in the last week of the month, we'll chat to a creative - to highlight incredible work, stories, ideas and entrepreneurship.

Hermione McNamara is the brains and heart behind Maison de Choup's most recent design - the Reaching Out tee, an ode to community, and realising its importance in times of need. So, I chatted to her to find out more about her inspiration, her journey and what's coming next for an exciting new designer. 

Hey Hermione - tell us your story. 
My name is Hermione, but I’m often known as Mi and I am currently going into my third year at university studying Graphic Design and Illustration. I’ve always been fascinated with art and its unique ability to communicate messages and themes to people, often without words, and it is all the stronger for doing so. Art targets emotion and can communicate abstract concepts when language does not suffice.

When did you realise that you wanted to design tattoos?My interest for designing tattoos was sparked through social media, especially Instagram and Pinterest, where I was able to surround myself with talented creatives such as Quibe, a French illustrator. My first tattoo was a print I had purchased from him for my 18th birthday.

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⚡️INTRODUCING Reaching Out!⚡️ Designed by young creative Hermione McNamara, the focus of our latest tee was on reaching out and the importance of having a community around you. 🙏🏻🙏🏼🙏🏽🙏🏾🙏🏿⠀ ⠀ One of Maison de Choup’s strengths is the subtlety of our designs and Hermione wanted to carry this on. Reaching out to others and being vulnerable can be intimidating but creating a safe and supportive community helps to protect our mental health. ⠀ ⠀ Everyone suffers. Let’s reach out together. ⠀ ⠀ Head to maisondechoup.com to pick up your new Reaching Out tee with FREE delivery if you live in the UK! 🚚 Available in Embroidered and Printed! LINK IN BIO! ✨ @mistudiio @mobmcn

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Do you have a favourite that you've done?
 My favourite designs are probably my commissions as it is particularly special designing an illustration with a specific someone in mind. I am just as excited as they are when they get their design, particularly with Maison de Choup, as I was able to see my designs become a physical product. The design process is transformed into a journey, with real and tangible outcomes and nothing beats that.

When did you realise that you wanted to transition to clothing design?
Becoming a part of the huge industry of clothing design has always been a dream of mine and I am extremely privileged to have been able to do just that so early on in my career, with the support from Maison de Choup. To be able to collaborate with such an inspiring company in terms of their ideology is pivotal, as I felt like my voice was heard by Maison de Choup.

How would you characterise your own dress sense and style?
My style prioritises comfort and warmth above all else, as I easily get cold, and as a student, comfort cannot be understated. I also feel that my style has become increasingly experimental, as I strive to question traditional clothing ‘rules’. Growing up, it's very easy to feel that we can’t wear certain things, or that certain colours don’t suit us, without really knowing why. Instead, I actively try to break down those little boundaries through my clothing style, and instead wear whatever makes me feel happiest.

What was the process around coming up with your design for MDC?
I was given the opportunity to choose whatever theme I wanted for my design, and as I’ve personally never experienced significant mental illness I wanted to remain sensitive in my design, and so opted for something I had personally experienced. I created an illustration focussing on isolation, how easy it is to feel alone in our modern world, with the hopes to spread a positive message of reaching out. While isolation works to distance people, it is such a common emotion that we could create a sense of community and work together to combat it, looking out for those around us. I visualised the idea of creating bonds between everyone in a circle where people are linked together and cared for. The hands reach out, looking to bring more people into the circle and the community, and the more hands within the circle, the more people can be reached out to and brought into the caring community. This design was created in early 2019, yet the last six months have brought new meanings to my design through the months of families and friends being separated for their safety in the pandemic and the global protests and rallies for the Black Lives Matter movement.

What are you currently working on?
 This lockdown has been a time for me to reassess my interests, questioning what makes me happy and fulfilled, and what drains me. I’ve tried to look internally and reflect on myself, striving to be kinder to myself as I often view my worth through my level of productivity. This isolated time has helped me learn to be okay with not liking what I design, not being as productive, or hitting a creative block. I’ve taken up different outlets of creativity, including hand-built pottery, as I’m able to make the ceramics from home and I’ve always wanted to learn. I’m also working on creating a flash tattoo set, designing a cohesive minimalistic collection, and also how to handpoke, so that I am able to apply the tattoo as well as design it.

And...what does the future look like for you? 
I think 2020 has made many people, including myself, realise how easily the so-called ‘norm’ can change and the importance of having to adapt, a skill I am hoping to take with me into the future, whilst completing my final year at university and beyond. There’s still many different types of design that I would like to try and learn more about, and this experience in designing Maison de Choup clothing has helped me realise my future ambitions of encompassing many outlets of design and creativity.

WEARING: These linen shorts - they're a little different as they are kind of a mid-thigh length, and err on the side of being fancy bike shorts, but great for the humidity nonetheless. 
EATING: Padella! The cacio e pepe pici, in particular. 
LISTENING TO: CHVRCHES - on the tube. Not YouTube, like the literal train tube. 

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