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Posted 17.05.18

Girls Girls Girls: Pre-degree graduate creates designs for Rita Ora

By Jasminne Gwalter

Image courtesy Florence Given

Florence Given, Plymouth College of Art pre-degree alumni has collaborated with pop superstar Rita Ora on an exclusive collection of t-shirts for her brand new UK and European tour ‘The Girls Tour’.

Hailed by Rita Ora as “another feminist empowering incredible artist” Florence studied for a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Fashion and Textiles with Plymouth College of Art for two years before going on to study for a BA (Hons) in Fashion at London College of Fashion.

Since progressing onto her degree, Florence has been working tirelessly to expand her ever-growing fashion illustration and design business supporting a strong feminist and political undertone which has caught the eye of nearly 46,000 followers on her official Instagram.

We spoke to Florence about her exciting new project working in collaboration with Rita Ora and got some handy advice about establishing yourself as an artist in the industry.

How did your project with Rita Ora’s tour merch begin? 

Rita’s close friend and personal stylist contacted me as soon as he found my work and thought that both my style and message would be a perfect fit for a collab with her upcoming tour and single named ‘Girls’, which is all about female empowerment and women being able to do whatever the hell they want.

She gave me an enormous amount of creative freedom, which is rare in any creative industry – it was a TRUE girl power collab. It felt good to be trusted to create something for her tour. As soon as her team gave me the go ahead to start designing I cleared my diary and got to work.

“If I had never studied at Plymouth College of Art, I wouldn’t have believed that a job in the creative industry or doing something that I actually enjoy would be possible!”

What have you been up to since finishing your Extended Diploma at Plymouth College of Art?

Far too much. I knew before I moved to London that I wanted to be that person who just works so hard on their side hustle that it becomes their full time job. I didn’t come here to mess around.

Since I moved to London I haven’t had a days rest, but it’s what I live for. I have showed work at several art exhibitions, designed my own line of t-shirts, attended magazine launches, protests, panel discussions, collaboration meetings and even curated my first all-female exhibition in Shoreditch all by myself.

It got a lot of press - the queues were going down the street, some of my friends couldn’t even get in! I was truly blown away by the response to my first ever show, I literally went from art exhibitor to art exhibition curator in under a year thanks to Creative Debuts who gave me the space and platform.

I didn’t sleep most of last winter, I was working so hard to make it a success; but it paid off.

What or who is inspiring your work the most right now?

Everyday conversations, experiences and fashion are what influence my work. There has never been one direct source of influence except my own personal taste in music and style, so that influences my typography and how I draw the women I draw.

I learned a lot about typography at Plymouth College of Art, which is where I developed my own style.

What do you see yourself doing once you graduate from university?

Everything that I am doing now is more than I could have hoped to achieve after graduation. I get more and more exciting opportunities every single day and at the moment I don’t have much time for uni work because what was my side hustle has become a full time job for me.

I would never have thought that a year from the inception of my Instagram account I would be collaborating with Rita Ora. It goes to show that 1. Spending the night in working instead of going out pays off and 2. The internet is a tool to be used and abused for creatives who want to display their work and get jobs in the industry!

What was one thing that you have taken from your time at Plymouth College of Art that has helped you since moving on from your Extended Diploma to an Undergraduate degree?

Uhh everything! If I had never studied at Plymouth College of Art, I wouldn’t have believed that a job in the creative industry or doing something that I actually enjoy would be possible!

Doing a pre-degree course in fashion and textiles exposed me to so many methods of artistic expression that I believe I wouldn’t have been aware of had I taken A-Levels instead.

Different projects every week, impromptu photoshoots, drawing exercises and even the introduction of Photoshop - I really enjoyed the freedom given to me at Plymouth College of Art and can honestly say I learned more about collaboration being there than I have so far at uni which is heavily self-lead in its studies.

“I learned a lot about typography at Plymouth College of Art, which is where I developed my own style."

What is the best piece of advice you would offer to someone who is also studying a creative degree such as yourself?

Manipulate your course to suit you! If you’re doing a creative degree you have so much room to turn a course that is a ‘general fit’ into something that is tailor made for you. My last uni project was about fashion production, but it had to involve an element of styling too.

So, I weaved my illustration work into the project by designing and releasing a range of t-shirts (production) and then shot and styled them (styling). There is always a way you can make it work with your own personal brand and beliefs.

Work created by Florence Given during her Extended Diploma in Art & Design (Fashion & Textiles) at Plymouth College of Art

See Florence’s work for yourself on her Instagram page and her official website.

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