Elaine Healy: That Healing Feeling; Mending the Relationship Between Man & Machine [Interview]
A locally residing artist-designer, Healy holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Printmaking from Ohio University and a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. The vision for her senior concept collection earned her “Best of Show” and “Best Overall Collection” accolades from the Art Institute in 2013, gaining her street cred in our city’s ever-growing arts community.
Now, Healy designs and curates styles for her ready-to-wear line – conveniently named after herself – and for her newly-founded Yaysayers Design Group.
Her style can be described as a blend of witches, Pretty Pretty Princess, and feminists of the 90s. Elaine’s creative process focuses on the embodiment of a marriage of opposites – man vs. machine, organic vs. the technological. The result yields sophisticated, well-balanced pieces for the modern woman.
Needless to say, she surely sparked our interest, so we took some time to get to know her. Check out our convo with one of Pittsburgh’s own up-and-coming fashion talents below:
Where did you grow up, and how old were you when you first started playing dress-up or toying around with fashion?
When I was 8 my family moved to Pittsburgh from Hershey, Pennsylvania – The Sweetest Place on Earth. (Yes, it smells like chocolate!) It’s hard to pinpoint an exact age or memory of this; I feel like it’s always been with me. I still have a shoebox of buttons from my mother that I remember being fascinated with when I was very little. She would take my siblings and I with her to hunt for antiques, and this definitely influenced my love for vintage garments.
In middle school and high school, I was really motivated by online DIY communities such as Craftster. I actually learned a lot about altering and up-cycling garments from a LiveJournal community. I loved how people on opposite sides of the country (or globe!) could inspire each other, collaborate, and critique each other’s work. I think this influence can still be seen in my pieces – I’m interested in using “crafty” materials and techniques while keeping a sense of refinement.
You recently graduated from the Art Institute. There are so many other AI locations; what made you choose Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is the Art Institute’s flagship school, and that sparked my interest. I had just graduated from Ohio University and wanted to apply what I had learned while navigating the art scene back home. I remember being impressed by the AIP gallery space and wanting to produce a runway show there.
Do you think living in Pittsburgh has influenced your creativity in any way?
Absolutely. I love the history of this city and the way working class ethos has continued to be embraced while we also see the growth of larger companies. We have a vibrant fine arts scene and killer underground music community. And the best is still yet to come.
What are your thoughts on our city’s current fashion industry?
I think there’s a unique opportunity for young, emerging talent in Pittsburgh. The scene isn’t overcrowded, so hardworking, creative designers can gain recognition with more ease than they might in larger cities like London or New York. We have a lot of independent designers making names for themselves, and I’ve been very impressed by the Pittsburgh Style Week events. Every year, I feel more energy in Pittsburgh’s fashion industry.
I have a degree in Printmaking and a love for fine art. I’m at my creative best when I’ve struck a nice balance between producing apparel and more traditional gallery pieces. When these two mediums are informing one another, I achieve my most forward-thinking ideas.
Where can we buy?
Vintage and vintage-inspired pieces can be found on my Etsy shop. Higher end, ready-to-wear styles will be available soon from my shop on my website! If you don’t find quite what you’re looking for, I’m always down for custom design work.
I’d love to be sustainably creating my own collections full time. That’s the ultimate goal. Right now, I’m working on a new collection, which I’m very excited about! I recently became a member of Pittsburgh’s TechShop, so my goal is to continuously incorporate new technologies into my work. I’m also collaborating with local 2-D artists to bring their work off the page and onto textiles and garments.
Keep your eyes peeled and your body ready for Elaine’s upcoming collection, “KISMET,” scheduled to be presented in January 2016. You can shop her vintage throwback finds and handmade treasures on the YAYSAYERS Etsy shop, stay up-to-date with upcoming events and details on new releases, or view past collections by visiting her website. You do not want to miss what she has in store for the new year.