The day I encountered the writing of fashion journalist Josh Walker I nearly wept. This colourblind wordsmith shapes his experiences in the fashion world into online content that is beautiful, descriptive and deeply evocative. I never knew fashion writing could move me in such a way.
As well as being a fashion writer and editor, Walker is the creator and creative director of Colourblind, one of my favourite online discoveries of recent years. A celebration of black, dark fashion and art, Colourblind provides insightful interviews, introductions to up and coming creatives, dark mountains of stunning, stylistic photography and in-depth essays.
I was struck by the site’s magazine-like-slickness, and my profoundly enriching reading experience. I urge you to go there once you are finished here.
Your online platform Colourblind is an exploration into the colour black. When did you first have the idea to establish the site? Did you encounter any challenges during its setting up, or did you have a detailed plan and content schedule to see you through the first few months?
I first had the idea at university, for my final year project. It was born as a printed publication and then translated to web to launch online.
At university, I was being taught the art of fashion writing, so how to tailor writing to fashion, how to put together a solid piece of journalism and everything else that comes with it. I’m colourbind. I get all of my colours mixed up so when I started going to catwalk shows, interning at magazines and applying my craft in industry as a colourblind person, I realised all of my writing was focused on the cut rather than the colour. So even though I’ve looked into colour theory and have got used to knowing what the colour I’m seeing actually is, I was filtering out the colour and focusing on other elements of design other people may have missed. A zip, an extra button, a subtle play with texture.
I realised very quickly that I felt home with black because it was where I was in control. Everyone could see a world in black exactly how I did. Not only that, I felt that, because of being colourblind, I understood black on a deeper level. Colourblind became a place for me to express all of these things, as well as approach fashion how I’ve always seen it – as a form of expression.
Are you happy with where Colourblind is at now? Are there any new developments on the horizon? Can you envisage Colourblind venturing in different directions in the future, or will it always solely be an online platform?
I’m one of those people who struggles to define something as completely finished. There’s always more I could do, always something that could have been bettered, always a new approach I could take. With Colourblind it’s the same. As a passion project, I wish I could spend more time on it but working full time in industry, it’s often difficult! That said, there are always new developments and potential points of direction on the future landscape both with Colourblind and other projects.
Where do you primarily search for inspiration for Colourblind’s content? Has there ever been a time when you have found yourself struggling to find material?
In terms of designers, online is where I find most of the people I contact. Tumblr is great and Instagram is great – there are communities of people interested in the darker side of style who I love tapping into. Word of mouth is also great and highly undervalued. A lot of the people I’ve featured on Colourblind I’ve heard from other people I’ve interviewed. Other than that, I’ve always got an eye open for people I bump into in the industry at various events and shows.
I always thought I may struggle with content but in all honesty, it’s been a steady stream since it started. I want Colourblind to be a place of considered journalism and writing. It’s not a site to skim read where you take in the story in the first two sentences, which is why I don’t upload content constantly. I want it to be a place people hang out on, and come back to – to revisit an article or finish reading it if they didn’t finish.
Do you regularly interact with your readers? How would you describe those who frequent Colourblind?
I interact with anyone who reaches out to be interacted with. I know I have readers who return to the site and follow the content and for them, I am extremely grateful. Whether they want to read Colourblind from the solace of the unknown or reach out and talk about anything is up to them and a decision I wholeheartedly respect. I do love talking to people and hearing their point of view so am always up for collaboration and conversation. In terms of how I’d describe those who visit Colourblind regularly? Hungry. Hungry to learn, understand and create good art.
You have mentioned in your writing that you are actually colourblind, and rather than focusing on the colour of a piece, you instead latch onto the elements that matter. Which elements have real importance to you?
There are plenty of elements that to me, hold real importance. The consideration of the cut, the way it hangs on the body, the way it moves on the body or the delivery of texture are just a few. But for me, there’s something in the story that holds a real importance. An idea never comes from nothing. There’s always a trigger, and that fascinates me.
You are a fashion journalist based in London. In many people’s eyes you are living the dream. What has your experience living and working in the capital been like thus far, and how does London influence you on a personal and professional level? Is there anywhere else you would rather be based?
Thank you! I wouldn’t say I’m living a dream just yet but I am incredibly lucky that I’m doing something I adore. London’s great. Especially for the field I’m in and the type of designers I enjoy writing about. London’s a hotbed of emerging talent and creativity and being immersed in that is a pleasure. That said, London can be a cold and difficult place to live. London knows what it wants and where it’s going and if you’re not with it, it’ll be sure to let you know. I’m comfortable in London right now though both personally and professionally, but I won’t be here forever.
You have interviewed a wide range of artists and designers for Colourblind. Who can people expect to find when they pay the site a visit? How do you prepare for an interview and what are the key things to ask when interviewing a creative?
People can expect to see a selection of artists whose approach to design and use of black is truly innovative and inspiring. I only ever feature people on Colourblind who I feel deserve absolutely everything they work towards and so you can expect to see individuals whose creative process is as beautiful as their work. That doesn’t just stand for the designers. I’ve had people contribute pieces of writing to the site and they have my respect as much as those they’re writing about.
This leads smoothly onto what I ask when interviewing. Most importantly, it’s about them. The focus is on that person and nothing else. I want it to be a chance for them to express something or add another layer to their work they may not have been able to before. I also focus on the process, as well as the final result. What inspires them, who do they reference and how do they get to their finished piece. To prepare and get the right questions I do one of my favourite things – research.
You are a contributor to concept store and gallery Velvit. Can you talk about the purpose of Velvit, your role within it and your thoughts on the new project as a whole?
Yes indeed. Velvit and the people behind it are fantastic. It’s a concept store and gallery specialising in fashion and fine art. All of the stuff it sells and showcases is black, so it’s no surprise we ended up collaborating. The result was a portal, in which interviews with the designers, articles and look books were all combined in one interactive document. The individuals Velvit has chosen to work with, as well as the story behind Velvit are hugely talented and I recommend checking them out.
Which designers currently excite and inspire you on a daily basis? Any new creators emerging from behind black fabric who need to be watched?
Emerging designers, always. For me, they’re the pulse of the fashion industry. They’re true to themselves, expressive in their work and just so damned passionate. For that reason, both with Colourblind and in my other fashion writing, it’s my aim to expose those that matter as much as I can. Every creator on Colourblind now and in the future is, in my opinion, someone to be watched from behind the black fabric. In terms of designers who are really exciting me on a more general basis though, there’s quite a few. I’m a big fan of Phoebe English and feel menswear designer Craig Green has the potential to be as exciting as the next Alexander McQueen.
Aside from fashion journalism and everything you do for Colourblind, you are also a poet. How did poetry become a part of your life and what do you explore within your poetic works? Is there anywhere where we can find your poems printed?
It’s worth mentioning here that I fell in love with the written word before I fell in love with fashion. I grew up reading and writing and even now, I don’t think a day goes past where I’m not doing one or the other. I never leave the house without pen, paper and (at the minute a Stephen King) novel.
About three years ago, I had a go at writing poetry and started putting them online about a year and a half ago at thepoeticprocess.tumblr.com. I found the idea of condensing thoughts that were making a lot of noise in my head into a handful of words on paper fascinating. And the first time I managed to do that, I can’t quite describe how satisfying if felt to have a finished poem in front of me that encapsulated so much in so little.
Almost all of my poems are love poems and so I take a lot of inspiration from that, beauty and the sheer force of nature. As much as I’d love them to be, none are in print as yet.
You have hailed Marilyn Manson as one of your muses. A lot of people I talk to don’t like to admit they ever enjoyed Manson’s work, and hastily try and turn to another subject. Would you say that his work today is as strong as it was, say, in the Antichrist Superstar era? What are your thoughts on his affiliation with black?
It’s interesting to hear that people you know don’t admit to admiring Manson’s work. I’ve enjoyed Manson’s work for a long time and never been afraid of saying so. As much as I enjoyed his music growing up, I started watching interviews with him, reading his essays and latching on to the lyrics more than the music composition itself. Before I knew it I’d read his book, The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell and loved every single word. I think he’s an incredibly talented and tuned in individual. He’s got a fascinating view on life and feel his opinions are often lost in controversy.
His work now is definitely different to the Antichrist Superstar era, but I don’t enjoy it any less. I’ve listened to his new album The Pale Emperor and think it’s a strong record. I’m looking forward to reading through his press interviews that’ll be cropping up over the next few months.
In terms of his affiliation with black, that’s a hard question. Even though I’m obviously attracted to the darker side of style and his personal approach to style, it was his interaction with topics and themes of discussion that drew me in. If I could interview anyone in the world, it would without a doubt be Marilyn Manson.
You state that black has ‘limitless potential’ which had me wondering about your personal style. Which pieces are you currently finding yourself living in?
My entire wardrobe is black, with no exceptions. That said, my black skinny jeans and leather jacket are items I go back to again and again.
In one word, what does black mean for you?
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