Dominic Gomez
The Art of Fashion

Art Music Dance Entertainment Fashion November 24, 2015


Seattle is a city that pushes the cultural and political envelope. I moved here in 2003 from San Francisco, long known as “The City That Knows How” and “Baghdad-By-The-Bay”, among other noms de guerre. Keeping in mind that the “The City” is just across the Bay from “Berserkely” (Berkeley) and “Bump City” (Oakland), the “Emerald City” (formerly “Jet City”) was not a major culture shock.

In fact, Seattle feels reassuringly like the northern extension of a geographic mind-set that stretches from the SF Bay Area through “Portlandia” (keeping it weird) on into Vancouver, B.C. Think cultures without borders.

If the lay of this land looks somewhat familiar, it was first envisioned by Ernest Callenbach in his 1975 classic “Ecotopia”. He described the political, cultural and economic secession of the northern West Coast from the rest of the United Sates. A few years later Seattle University professor David McCloskey coined the term “Cascadia” to describe a real-world culture that embodies the ideals of the fictional Ecotopia. Cascadia (Land of Falling Waters) is not just the environmental ecology of a geographic region but also a socio-cultural understanding nurtured by it.

Which brings to mind the annual confluence of Art, Music, Dance, Entertainment and Fashion in Seattle known as…AMDEF.

AMDEF presents a series of collaborations by artists, musicians, dancers, entertainers and fashionistas that challenge their creativity and talents to work together. Through a process of partnering talented individuals from very different creative disciplines and providing them the venue and resources to co-create unique performances at AMDEF shows, the producers hope to strengthen the Greater Seattle Area’s creative communities by exposing both artists and attendees to new mediums of entertainment.

As one of AMDEF’s contributing artists I’m happy to be a part of the “Cascadian” point of view!

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The Case For The Art of Fashion October 7, 2015

gatsby girl

Clothes are dynamic flexible objects with a personality photos cannot bring out.” Alf- B Dagsvold, CEO ItsMeSee

There is a reason why fashion runway shows have such visceral appeal. The clothing we choose to wear “fulfill their destiny” (if you will) not by hanging in closets collecting dust. They enhance and complete our perceptions of ourselves so that our friends, co-workers, associates can see us more completely. More as we really are. Or at least as how we like to think we are.  Fashion and style are individual choices. They have personality and are most becoming when their “personalities” match our own. And vice versa. (This has always been haute couture’s raison d’être.)

And because people are dynamic and flexible and move when going about the business of daily life, clothing is best studied and taken under consideration for purchase when they are observed on the fashion runway.

I’ve nothing against photography as a marketing tool for the apparel industry. I have many friends who make their living as fashion photographers. But sometimes a photograph, even taken by the most esteemed cameramen (and women) in the business, doesn’t quite capture the personality of the garment. On the other hand a free-hand sketch of a garment on a model…a fashion illustration…can convey the palpable impression of a living experience. It becomes more than a frozen document.


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The Meta-Creative September 28, 2015

artist and model

(above: Seattle model Addy Evenson being drawn by me at AMDEF 2015)

We’re constantly inventing and reinventing ourselves, our personas, our internet avatars, our on-line presences, our social media selves. We like our selfies. We love to blog. We curate our accoutrements, our likes and dislikes to fit carefully crafted perceptions of what we think we are.
Welcome to the age of the Meta-Creative: “meta”, as in a concern with oneself or to the conventions of one’s own genre and “creative”: one who is original and creative (specifically, a person involved in the creation of advertising imagery).

Over 100 years ago during the last “fin de siecle” people were moving optimistically but with great uncertainty into the 20th century. Leftover notions from an increasingly antiquated 19th century were being shelved. This formed the backdrop of unprecedented developments in science and the arts.

We’re in a similar period of anxiety today in a “debut de siecle”. We find ourselves on another precarious journey into an (increasingly) unknowable next century despite what we’ve learned from the previous one. And again anxiety is the backdrop for rapid developments in technology and the arts, not to mention socio-economics, interpersonal relationships, and many other aspects of modern life that were rarely considered in the late 1800’s-early 1900’s.

The present time seems to be urging us to mollify uncertainty about the future with something we can at least be sure of: our own selves. The leveling of the playing field brought on by the internet and social media has dramatically increased the belief that anyone can be a star, if even in a 10 second movie. Powerful apps are driving self-generated creativity about…who else? Ourselves! Self promotion is what it’s all about, really.

The downside, though, is that creatively supporting the group takes a back seat to supporting just oneself as a survival mechanism. The internet/social media can provide a false sense of “community” while supporting narcissism. We are together being alone.

As an artist I can understand the need for people to express the creative urge. It’s irrepressible. Art is life itself and needs to be dealt with somehow. But absent a supportive community of (art) providers and receptors, creative effort becomes a dead end. Or at least of value only to the writer, artist, musician, choreographer, filmmaker him- or herself. An advertising creative once wrote that to be truly creative one has to be completely unselfconscious. That’s why children are so good at it, especially when they find themselves in a safe and nurturing environment.

Truly creative people aren’t necessarily motivated by the money (which may be why so few of us have much of it?). What we do desire, though, is acknowledgment and appreciation of the ideas we have and of the things we create, especially from those whose opinion we respect. And most especially if that someone is another artist.

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The ’80’s Are Back…Big (Shoulder) Time! September 5, 2015

This is my take on a Claude Montana look from the ’80’s. Remember him? Big shoulders, over-the-top glam. Another style icon of the era, fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez, was a major influence on my choice of drawing style. Currently, Millennials (whose parents cut their fashion teeth during those heady times) are rediscovering that delectable look and feel for themselves. See more of my illustrations here.

montana 2

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Polished and Ready to Go August 31, 2015

Here’s a tightly rendered painting of an evening look that was in vogue in the late ’80’s. Did it while I was still in San Francisco. Don’t remember the designer, but Claude Montana and Valentino were hot then. Mixed media on illustration board, 15″ x 11″.


evening wear

evening wear

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There’s Something About Mary… August 26, 2015

But honestly, she can’t be all that bad!

(I did this in a drawing workshop at the 2014 Emerald City Comicon . Graphite, watercolor, colored pencil, pastel and crayon on paper. 12″ x 8-1/2″)

There's Something About Mary

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Seattle Runway Fashion Model August 25, 2015

Chance Fashion model


On this illustration I’m trying to keep a light touch. I did a quick pencil drawing of a model at one of this year’s Chance Fashion shows (I don’t recall the designer.) As I was adding watercolor I had to be careful to maintain the spontaneity of the original sketch. Pencil and watercolor on paper, 17″ x 11″.

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“Persuasion”, watercolor on paper August 21, 2015



You got persuasion
I can’t help myself
You got persuasion
I can’t help myself

Something about you baby
Keep me from goin’ to somebody else

Yeah, any way you want now
Now, now baby
You put me in a daze
All the time

Look whatcha got for me baby
Like the Devil in disguise

Something about you baby
You’re one, you’re one of a kind
Oh, this spell you put on me
Has just outdone me, babe

I can’t keep the rain
From comin’ down

Look out now, I can’t get out from under
But I wouldn’t want to even if I can
Something about you baby
Make me feel, make me feel like a man.

Santana (1969)

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Creative Teamwork: Artist and Model August 15, 2015

One of the more sublime social contracts that evolved in our culture is that between artist and model. It is a tacit agreement based on mutual respect for the abilities each party brings to the table to create a quality product. Traditionally this product is a painting or an illustration of a human figure. In today’s fast content, app-obsessed society, it is the fashion photograph…the “Vogue” cover shot.

amdef 2

A common assumption is that any artist worth his or her weight in gold can conjure up a picture of a person instantly from thin air. There are artists who have this unique ability. And there are markets that present opportunities for such works to be appreciated and purchased, either as stand-alone works of art or for use in promotion campaigns.

I create pictures (seemingly) from scratch myself. But seen at a deeper level, something is missing. And that something is provided by a living, breathing flesh-and-blood model. By another human being.

Many artists, like the late Alberto Giacometti, see their models as actual participants in the creative process. Artist/filmmaker Alfred Leslie views painting as a ”social enterprise”. Picture making is his attempt to influence people’s lives by ”helping them relate better to each other.” His models are his collaborators, who have as much stake in the outcome of the work as he.

According to Leslie, “the important thing is that the sitters (his models) want to see you (the artist) succeed. Interaction is what painting people is all about. In the end, you’re painting with, not from, nature.’’

This is also key in the successful fashion photograph. Empathy for the model on the part of the artist brings out intangible aesthetic qualities that take the work to a whole new level. And Empathy is not a class you take in art school.

In 1815 sculptor Antonio Canova noted ”You are searching in nature for some beautiful part of the body and you cannot find it? Do not lose heart. Undress some more persons and you will find it. In nature there is everything, provided you know how to look for it.”

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Fashion As Spectacle August 10, 2015

Seattle (and the Pacific Northwest in general) has long had a reputation of marching to the beat of a different drummer. As early as 1975 the region was the setting for Cascadia, a bioregion and proposed country popularized in the environmental Utopian novel “Ecotopia” by Ernest Callenbach. Seattle gave birth to Grunge. And then there were the 1999 WTO riots. Perhaps the surrounding environment, which gives rise to vigorous and verdant growth, affects people who live here. Whatever the case, Seattle continues to spawn free-wheeling, often outlandish spurts of creativity, and her local Fashion community is not immune.

AMDEF (acronym for Art Music Dance Entertainment Fashion), a production of Active Entertainment, returns to Neumo’s September 12 for one of the most unique and diverse community building events to hit Seattle each year.

AMDEF partners talents from the different creative communities to produce over six hours of unique showcases in one evening. The event highlights innovative ways of advancing Seattle’s Arts and Fashion Culture. It reminds viewers that the creative process is not limited to artists, musicians and designers, but is a way for everyone to see through the eyes of innovation.

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