Name: Gia G.
Why did you decide to study art? I actually came into school thinking I was going to be a voice major. But it’s so competitive in the music school, especially for singers, and it made me not enjoy it at all. I took one art class, and all the projects challenged me, and I actually wanted to go to class, which was never my thing. I felt like I was flourishing and I’ve felt that in every single art class I’m taking; that must mean I’m doing something right.
What kind of art are you interested in? I’m still trying to figure out what my specialty is going to be, but I’ve kind of dabbled in everything. I’m in a fibers class right now, and I’m really into making clothes and costumes. I really like going to thrift stores and Goodwill and finding things that make me think, “Ok, what can I make with this?”
Gia pairs a gold print dress from her friend with a t-shirt from Hot Topic. Her cardigan is from California and her jacket is from Nordstrom Rack.
What decades or styles are inspiring your textile work? I am very much inspired by the punk rock movement and the DIY spirit of punk rock. That’s the music I listen to, and I love that aesthetic because it’s all about being yourself and being tough and being an individual, which I think is important.
Are there any specific artists within the punk rock movement? I would say Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, and Cherie Currie: just kind of the bad bitches of rock.
How do you bring in modern elements to your punk aesthetic? I feel I’m on Tumblr a lot, so it’s all about the Tumblr girls. I mostly shop for vintage stuff. All of my clothes are probably old, but I take that and apply it to a modern style and modern trends.
What do you like about thrifting? First of all, it’s cheap. Second of all, I love that no one else is going to have that. I love going somewhere and getting something and thinking, “I’m not going to run into someone on the street, and be like, “Nice dress, you got it here didn’t you?” There’s just so much room for creativity.
Her green Dr. Martens were a gift from her best friend at the beginning of their friendship. The shoes, and the friendship, have proved to be long-lasting.
What have you learned about thrifting having done it for a while? That it’s a process. You have to love thrifting and it will love you back. There are times in-between jobs when I would go and fuck off at the Goodwill like three times a week because they get new stuff in all the time. You just have to keep going back. So love it, and it will love you back. That’s my advice for thrifting.
Do you think your artistic interests influence how you dress? Oh yeah, definitely. I think that when I go out, why not dress up? Why not tell everyone who’s walking by who I am without saying a word?
Her hair bow is a gift from her sister from Japan.
Were there any early style inspirations who got you into fashion? My mom and my aunt were party girls in the ’80s. I would see pictures of them in photo albums, and they were all dressed in black and had their big ass hair and dark eyes. It was very dark. I don’t want to say lady of the night, because that’s a prostitute, but they were definitely mysterious girls about town. I thought that they looked so beautiful and sexy and cool and witchy. My aunt, being a witch and everything, and I were really close. So all of that Pagan and natural stuff appealed to me.
Did she pass away? Yeah.
Do you think by wearing her clothes, you can carry on her memory? Oh yeah. It makes me feel great. We were really similar as well. Sometimes when I’m putting on stuff like this necklace, or even if I’m just walking around daily, I think, “Huh I’m exactly like her. She would be proud seeing me walk down the street.” She would think, “yeah that’s a person I would want to hang out with.” That’s what I try to do when I leave the house: be a person someone wants to hang out with.
Her necklace was her aunt’s.
You mentioned dressing “mysteriously.” How do you think that plays into how you dress? I want people to have to get to know me. There’s so much room for snap judgments. And everyone does it, but I feel like the way I dress is striking and unique in way that it makes you want to think, “Ok, I need to get deeper. I need to get to know this person.”
Do you think you had to find that confidence to stand out? Oh yeah. I struggled all throughout high school really badly with body image stuff. Only in the past two years, after getting to know the friends I have now, have I found my confidence. They also inspired my style a lot through hanging out with them. We go dancing a bunch, and we’re really active in the LGBT scene in Portland and the nightclub scene. We go out dancing and basically wear lingerie as clothing and have that sort of fetish aesthetic with the whole punk rock movement. I really like mixing the two: punk rock/fetish/black/hardcore, but also feminine.
WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY HANNAH STEINKOPF-FRANK, @HSTEINKOPFFRANK