Hamish Robertson of Vacation Days
Vacation Days was founded in 2012 by Hamish Roberston as a studio to produce artwork, small publications, various printed matter and accessories. While Vacation Days primarily produces Robertson’s work, he also collaborates with other artists, somehow never losing the clean, graphic, textured aesthetic that Robertson has clearly worked so hard to hone. We’re definite fans, and now we do more than just sell Robertson’s creations at TenOverSix; we’ve collaborated with him on a new line of paisley bandana-printed silk scarves! In celebration of our latest, favest collab, and of course because of our long-standing fangirl status, we sat down with Robertson to learn a little more about his work.
TenOverSix x Vacation Days Paisley Bandanas
TenOverSix: You went to school in Scotland, immediately moved to New York City, and moved to Los Angeles in 2012. What was the impetus behind giving the West Coast a try? How are you liking it?
Hamish Roberston: I was an editor at Vanity Fair in New York for many years and while there, like many New Yorkers, we were toying with the idea of moving West. My wife got a great opportunity which turned into a book deal that required her to be in California, and we made the leap. We moved to Los Angeles two years ago and absolutely love it. We’d visited at least once a year for the past decade for work and pleasure, plus I have family here, and we’re excited to have the opportunity to follow a creative pursuit out West, in the great tradition of the state. We were both craving new opportunities, to be around nature, and to be in a state we wanted to continue exploring.
Two images from Roberston’s Multi-Stories “Accident” Print series
TOS: A lot of your work seems to be directly and indirectly influenced by the aesthetics of the Southwest. How else does your present location influence your practice?
HR: I’m definitely influenced by many aspects of the Southwest. I’ve spent a lot of time in the deserts of West Texas, Arizona, and Southern California and find so much beauty in the landscape—it’s wild and unforgiving, bold and spare. I’m equally influenced by the people who inhabit those areas, too. They’re very often populated by people who, while feeling familiar and pride in their area of residence, don’t often speak of the place with a lot of aesthetic adoration for the environment around them, as though it’s bland and taken for granted. I guess it’s because I grew up in the rolling dales and vales of Yorkshire in England—blanketed in green fields, yellow rapeseed, and pink heathers—that the American Southwest really strikes me. I especially love White Sands National Monument in New Mexico—it’s like another planet.
My present location—Los Angeles specifically—is a big influence for similar reasons. It’s a beguiling collection of villages, each at odds with the nature within and around the city. As a child, my family usually drove to Italy for a summer vacation and I loved the colors and textures created by the weather-decayed painted stone buildings. Los Angeles has a similar feel. It’s a city that looks to the future yet seems to have accepted defeat to the weather and nature, inviting it in to the living space. I’m really inspired by the relationship between natural and manmade environments.
White Sands by Hamish Roberston
TOS: How do the places you’ve lived continue to influence your work?
HR: Interesting question. In short…
Yorkshire: Keep looking around.
London: Keep moving.
Edinburgh: Everything looks better against gray.
New York: Be both meticulous and efficient.
The view from Hamish’s studio
TOS: You seem to be strongly invested in collaboration; this one with TenOverSix is far from the first. How much of this comes from your background in publishing? How do these collaborations generally come about?
HR: I definitely think much of it comes from publishing. My first job in New York was as an editor at a small but influential fashion and design magazine called CITY where we operated on a really lean budget to produce a magazine five times a year. I had the great fortune of working alongside two really inspiring people: the magazine’s co-founder, Fabrice Frere, and then photography director Piera Gelardi (who went on to co-found Refinery29). With an issue budget I later learned was small for a medium-sized magazine’s catering allowance, we produced and published original, captivating editorial photo shoots of the highest standard through collaboration rather than plain assignment. I saw first hand that when you discover great artists and nurture and support their visions rather than dictate or force them, it can create something really special.
While Vacation Days is a brand under which I can realize my designs it’s also a creative studio where I can work with artists and designers I admire. So far I’ve produced wearable multiples with Karen Mabon, Ben Jones, Lauren Spencer King, and Little Paper Planes, and printed matter with Andy Spade, Erika Altosaar, Aaron Stern, Andi Teran, Saul Germaine, and Lani Trock. So far all of these collaboration have been with people I know. Publishing my own magazine, Afterzine (from 2010–2013) taught me that if you really want to connect with someone for a project, just get out there and ask them. My next project will involve some really exciting and unusual artists working in Japan.
Scarves produced in collaboration with Vacation Days (L to R): Malachite Print Cashmere Scarf by Lauren Spencer King; Pacific Print Silk Scarf by Kelly Lynn Jones; Taco Night Silk Scarf by Karen Mabon.
TOS: Vacation Days produces a lot of printed matter – cards, prints, portfolios, publications. So how did you decide to expand into making scarves? Any plans for other accessories?
HR: I see a scarf as a wearable canvas. It shares the same boundaries but also takes on a new design when worn and invites the wearer to be individual. I’ve seen guys buy my pocket squares and wear them ironed flat in their pockets and then the same pocket square bought by a girl and tied around her hair. I want them all to be multiples that take on their own lives.
As for other accessories, I’m working o a line of t-shirts at the moment using really soft Egyptian cotton and applications of liquid brass paintings I’ve produced over the past couple of months. I’m also the Fall-Winter 2014 artist in residence with AYR in New York, who have produced a few t-shirts and a sweatshirt featuring some of my photography collages.
Some inspirational images collected by TOS’ Kristen Lee
TOS: TenOverSix & Vacation Days have collaborated on silk scarf bandanas, which we’re so excited to get in! Tell us a little about this particular collaboration.
HR: It’s been great fun, and a new challenge. I suggested an exclusive for the stores and Kristen had the idea of taking her classic cotton bandana and having me re-make it in a beautiful soft silk twill. I illustrated it all by drawing out 10s and 6s and then tweaking them towards a more traditional paisley. Kristen chose the colorways to compliment TenOverSix’s fall offerings.
A glimpse of the Vacation Days process
TOS: Finally, what can we expect to see from Vacation Days in the future?
HR: I’m readying a line of large cotton-silk scarves for the holidays bearing the aforementioned liquid gold paintings. I’ve just designed a custom bow tie and pocket square for Clark’s, a beautiful oyster bar in Austin, TX. I’m also currently working on designing multiples series of accessories for spring with subject matters ranges from classics and cacti to nebulas and dying stars (the space kind, not the Hollywood kind).