June 10, 2016

Elizabeth Ilsley’s customised leathers dish up equal amounts of sass and hilarity. Flaunting colourful, bold slogans with a hearty slice of feminism, we can’t help but have all the feels for these customised jackets. We caught up with Elizabeth to talk about the power of Instagram, her inspirations and the importance of keeping your brushes clean.

UO: Tell us a bit about your story so far!

I first started painting leather jackets after buying an old leather for £10 from a charity shop; it ended up being too big for me so I decided to use it as a wall decoration instead. I was inspired by Robert Mapplethorpe after reading Patti Smith’s ‘Just Kids’ – such a cool book.

UO: How would you describe your designs in three words?

In three words I would describe my designs as: sassy, funny, and pink.

UO: Who or what inspires your work?

Stupid things that I’ve said to my friends, music from my favourites like Courtney Love and Metronomy…But initially it was Tracey Emin, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Jenny Holzer who inspired me to get serious about this.

UO: Tell us a little about your creative process.

I have a big list of slogans I write every now and again when I get an idea, then when the right jacket comes I cross the slogan off the list and start painting! I’ve got so many on the way!

UO: We love your customised leathers – which is your favourite piece and why?

My favourite leather jacket at the moment is the Sinner Sinner Chicken Dinner one, it’s so cheeky!

UO: What are your tops tips for customising your own leather at home?

My top tips would be to keep your brushes clean and keep a steady hand!

UO: We love the feminist undertones of your work – what does feminism mean to you?

Feminism means a lot to me. I believe in equality of the sexes. We’ve come such a long way, I think it’s now more of a celebration of being who we are more than fighting. I love being a woman.

UO: How do you think social media has altered the way girls (and guys!) can creatively express themselves?

Social media is the most powerful tool to use: I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for Instagram. Even the little things like snooping on what people are wearing – it’s the best way to be inspired and show off our skills. Imagine a world without Instagram and Twitter? There’d be a lot more Ugg boots around that’s for sure.

UO: Words to live by?

My words to live by are definitely ‘We’re all friends here.’