Since the exams at AMFI start this week graduation is around the corner for part of the AMFI-popluation. We sat down with exam candidate Travis Rice for a second time for an update on his process. Although in the midst of creating Q, his own fashion brand for young queers, Travis sees the light at the end of the tunnel: “I have never been more ready to graduate.”
Interview by Blanca Heise, 2nd year Int. Fashion & Branding.
Could you tell me about your process so far?
“It is time consuming, but doing something that is near and dear to me inspires me to give it my all. We already had our red/green check, which is an unofficial but binding decision on whether or not you are allowed to continue on for the official exam. I received positive feedback, which provided me with a boost of energy for these final weeks.”
What changed after we spoke last time?
“I am adding and changing little things on a daily basis. The biggest change though was turning the idea of a fanzine into a children’s book, based upon the popular Mr. Men/Little Misses books by Roger Hargreaves (with titles such as Little Miss Giggles or Mr. Happy). I was literally reading one of these stories to a group of kids one day and the idea just hit me: why not create a gender neutral character?
The gender neutral Mx Questioning is as much a marketing tool to gain media attention, as it is an educational one -for a brand today MUST be more than just products. Helping kids and adults to question conventions, Mx. Questioning sparks discussion in the classroom or with parents about diversity and acceptance – which are the core values of Q, my brand.”
In our last interview you seemed confident about your process and products. Did you struggle after the last time we spoke?
“Overall everything has gone quite well, but sometimes I felt even too well. I would say the most frustrating part of graduation is the fact that you can get so into your own project, that it is difficult to take a step back and view everything with an open-mind. Therefore, you can have quite a bit of work done before getting that vital bit of feedback which forces you to go back and change some aspects – costing time and patience. Or, when you get feedback from an outside assessor and they start to question things which for you are so obvious, but again, only because you spend so much time in the depths of your project. So although at times frustrating you must understand that critique is essential and a natural part of the creative process.”
In the last interview you mentioned that AMFI has taught you to always stick to your guns. How do you combine this level of confidence with the feedback from coaches?
“I always stick to my guns. It is very important that you know how to listen and to work with the feedback you receive. It is through this feedback that you learn what needs to be supported more or argued for better to really make strong and solid ideas. Our coaches are not there to tear our ideas apart, but that does not mean they are not critical. You need to learn to cover all your bases and have answers supported by research. This might be the ‘Age of Alternative Facts’, but people eventually see right through that bullsh*t.”
How do you feel about having the last deadline ever at AMFI?
“I have never been more ready.”
What do you want to show to the industry about yourself at the graduation event, Fashion Transit, on July 7th?
“Three things for sure. One, that I create work that has meaning, a purpose beyond generating dollar signs. I enjoy looking for stories and in this case I chose to tell the story of young queers. The brand and all that encompasses become the medium through which their voices can be heard.
Secondly, I want to show that through shared value brands can and should exist to benefit society. A symbiosis of sorts. My project specifically seeks to educate and preach acceptance, even to those who are not necessarily the target group.
And lastly, I want to show them that I march to the beat of my own drum – which just so happens to be what being queer is all about. I love knowing that even if my brand might not be someone’s personal style or taste, that they can still be intrigued. Allergic to the mundane I am dedicated to creating things that stand out, and in the case of this project it screams ‘We’re here and we’re queer!’”
As part of his genderqueer brand called ‘Q’, Travis also wrote a children’s book inspired by the Mr. Men/Little Miss classics. He has started a petition to make this book a reality. You can sign the petition here.