Silas Waller. An 18-year-old up-and-coming designer and artist from North Carolina. He’s been interested in fashion for as long as he can remember, but his design aesthetic and objectives continue to grow and change. He taught himself how to sew using his mother’s old sewing machine, and began creating simple projects like small bags and skirts for his younger sister and cousins. In his sophomore year of high school, he placed nationally in a competition for Fashion Construction after winning first prize in North Carolina. His knowledge of sewing grew through attending programs in both Fashion Design and Fashion Construction at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In his junior year of high school, he began attending the University of North Carolina School of the Arts for an intensive two-year immersion in the visual arts, during which he began to see and appreciate the correlation between fashion and art. This sparked his interest in fashion as a form of visual art rather than merely clothing. The School of the Arts also opened his eyes to the diversity of people and artists that exist in the world around him. He became dissatisfied with the fashion industry’s mainstream portrayal of fashion as a gender binary that excluded people who identify outside of it, and allowed very little fluctuation between differing genders on the spectrum. Throughout his entire life, Silas had always gravitated away from men’s clothing because he felt it limited him from being able to dress creatively and expressively, but he didn’t always feel valid or socially accepted when he wore women’s clothing as an alternative. He decided he wanted to change that. Silas is now a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology where he studies menswear in the hopes of making men’s fashion, and the fashion business as a whole, a more free and creative industry. His work is also meant to dismantle the gender binary in its entirety and change people’s minds about what gender means.
What is your name?
What is your age?
Where are you from?
What is your Instagram handle?
What type of art do you do?
“All kinds! I'm mainly interested in fashion but have a passion for and experience in drawing, painting, design, sculpture, photography, and performance art.”
What is it like to view the world from an artist standpoint?
“I’m not sure that I’ve ever viewed the world from a non-artistic standpoint, so I don’t know how or even if it’s different than the way other people view the world. I know I have an acute attention to detail, and I pay attention to things like what light looks like reflected on a window pane or how the colors of the world around me interact and create organic compositions. Viewing the world as an artist is also very political. If artists want their work to be impactful, it often gets tied into politics as well as emotions, so staying informed on what is actually going on in the world is essential to present-day artists.”
Is there a certain way your art has impacted you or someone else?
“Without art, I wouldn't be the person I am today, I have no idea who I would be or what I would be doing or what I would want to be doing. Art allowed me to feel free to express myself and discover who I am and who I want to be. Art has been an outlet for me emotionally and politically. I hope that I’ve been able to connect with and impact other people through those forms of expression, or at the least made them feel inspired.”
When faced with adversity, do you think art is a good way to solve a problem?
“I think art is a good way to bring awareness to a problem, which is a big part of finding a solution. Art is also a wonderful tool for getting through personal adversity because it’s a way of expressing one’s emotions rather than keeping things bottled up. But as far as solving problems in the world at large, I think art can only do so much. It’s an incredibly important part of the process, but it alone won’t create a solution, which is why we need to inspire people who have a real control.”
Have you ever experienced any negative/harsh words about your art? If so, how did it make you feel? If not, are you afraid of it happening someday? Why?
“Since most of my art has taken place in an educational setting of some sort, I’ve been exposed to critiques with other students and faculty. In these situations, I’ve obviously received some negative feedback from time to time. In the moment it can feel detrimental, but you have to remove yourself from the work for a second and take that feedback into consideration. After doing so, I just feel motivated to create more, to solve the problems people identified. And in some situations, the feedback doesn’t change my own perception of the art, and I’m still satisfied with having created something I’m proud of.”
If you could meet any artist (writer, poet, designer, dancer, etc.), dead or alive, who would it be?
“I would go back in time and meet Lady Gaga during the era of the Fame Monster.”
Choose any artwork/style from any media (Dance, hair, graphics). Which is your all-time favorite?
“In visual art, I love post-impressionism and modern art and especially appreciate the de stijl movement. As for other media, I have a real interest in contemporary dance and am interested in the ways in which dance and visual can come together and create performative works.”
Somewhere out there is a child who is being discouraged from their calling in art, what would be your advice to them?
“Persevere! If you are passionate about art, embrace it! Even if art doesn't end up being your job, it will always play a part in your life. Denying or neglecting that calling will not only keep you from reaching your potential as an artist but also keep you from being free and happy.”
What is one thing that makes you angry?
No matter what art you do, what are your artistic goals for the future?
“I want to leave an impact. Whether it’s something that secures me a spot in history textbooks of the future, or just something small, I want to use my life to make some sort of change, and I’d like that change to come about as a result of my art. Right now, my primary focus is fashion and bringing about change in the fashion industry. I’m specifically interested in and concerned about the way the industry regards gender, because despite the progress that has been made, it’s still very negligent and exclusive about a lot of genders, and still grossly stereotypes the genders that it does represent.”