• About A Girl: Chantal Chadwick

    In 1975, Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt published a series of aphorisms for creative ideas called Oblique Strategies; tips for encouraging new ways of thinking. One of our favorites is this: “When faced with a choice, do both.” This is what comes to mind when considering the projects of LA creative Chantal Chadwick: there are no limits. Chantal is a curator, editor, writer, dancer, and creative consultant...who actively does all of those things. From co-opening a New York City gallery when she was 23 then running a collaborative shop and art space in Brooklyn and then packing everything up and starting anew on the West Coast, Chantal is an inspiration to us in both her refusal to accept limitations and her persistence in continually exploring new projects, ideas, and collaborations. To learn more about her story, we followed her around for a weekend in Venice Beach to have her share the stories behind how she got started, what she's doing now, and to give a bit of advice on "going where life takes you."
    Photos by Holland Brown
    In lead photo, Chantal wears the Tabernacle Dress by Samantha Pleet

    Above: linen jumpsuit by Faircloth

    Can you tell us more about your upbringing? 
    I grew up mostly in the south, where my parents met and ended up settling. I was born in Atlanta and moved to Athens, GA in high school. My dad is from New York, and my mom grew up in Los Angeles, so I spent a lot of time in both cities throughout my childhood and knew I would move to one of them eventually. When it was time to start considering schools, I had my heart set on living in New York. My great aunt on my dad's side, who I was very close with growing up, would tell me about living in the East Village in the 70's and partying at Studio 54 and those stories sold me.

    I moved to New York right out of high school, did the college thing (which is incredibly difficult to do in New York City as a young adult experiencing real freedom for the first time) and tried desperately to figure out what it was that I wanted to pursue. 

    What were you thinking you'd do?
    I've always been interested in and passionate about so many things, and have felt this overriding pressure to choose just one. I've been a dancer my entire life, it's a huge part of who I am and the way I relate with people and with myself, so for a while I thought I wanted to pursue dance as a career, but the physical implications of doing so were not in line with my body. I've also always been deeply interested in fashion, music, and art, but wasn't quite sure how these interests could intersect in a way that I could define as a "career."  

    I knew that I was good at curating, that I had a "good eye," and that my passion for the underground and for digging deep and finding the obscure was notable. My friends were all young artists and designers whose work I genuinely admired, but many were relatively unknown and having difficulty getting their work into stores and galleries. Then one day, I had sort of an "aha" moment — a friend of mine, a mid-career woman that I considered a mentor, had a long-term lease on a commercial space in the Lower East Side and had been renting it short-term to various people. My friend, Lara Hodulick, and I approached her to see if she would rent it to us a for a month so that we could have a temporary retail space to show and sell the work of our friends, and she agreed.

    Above: No Advice Dress by Cameo

    It was the height of the recession and stores weren't risking floor space on emerging designers that they weren't certain would sell. And art paired with fashion, or in anything other than a white box gallery for that matter, was greatly frowned upon. We were unmoved and wanted to shake things up a bit, even if just for a month, and that is how End of Century began. We wanted a space that was a hybrid of art and design, but we also wanted an event space and a hangout. A place that you could buy a $300 dress or a $5 zine, go to a book reading or a film screening or just stop by on a Sunday afternoon and drink mimosas with the two of us. 

    The store opened on my 23rd birthday, and after a few weeks we were receiving press that we had never expected, including the New York Times during fashion week, so we knew we couldn't close after just one month. We played it month-to-month, and soon it became a thing that existed apart from us and that was supported by and depended on the community of artists and designers that it nurtured. 

    Above: Urban Renewal textured sack dress

    Three years later and for various reasons we decided to close the store in the Lower East Side and move to a studio space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We were receiving a lot of offers to collaborate outside of New York City at the time and wanted the flexibility to travel and to bring our designers and concepts to other cities. We called the studio Of Us. We invited artists into the studio to show their work and brought the artists Cave Collective to Upstate New York for a sound/performance installation. We also had month-long run at Underline Gallery in Chelsea that culminated in an artist talk relating performance and design. 

    Above: Unif jean jacket, linen jumpsuit

    So now you're in LA.
    The move to LA was the result of a culmination of things: a breakup, the rent on my South Williamsburg studio apartment being nearly doubled, and the realization that I didn't have to live in New York and put up with the grind to be a creative person. Also, the proximity to nature in Los Angeles and how important that is to me. I took a few months to settle, realign my mind, and adjust to the pace of LA. 

    What are you working on now?
    I'm now a partner at Assortment, a creative agency based in Silverlake. We work with brands to create original content, websites, campaigns, and events. I'm also in the process of launching an online publication called Ana (pronounced like Americana), with one of my best friends, Chelsey Bingham, which I'm really excited about. Every other month, we'll be exploring a new theme with collections of stories and sketches that will include non-traditional mediums for web such as art, music, and performance. Over the past two years I've taken a break from creating and have been acting as a sponge, absorbing information, and Ana will be the result. 

    I'm also performing in artist Beau Rhee's piece "All Blues," a performance piece and installation surrounding the color blue, which will show at the Baryshkinov Arts Center in New York in June, and I'm choreographing a performance piece being directed by artist Holland Brown and performed by actress Sonja Mauro. Another new project are a collection of ambient synthesizer soundscapes, which I make under the name Bed. They are more of a therapeutic practice than anything, but who knows — I might release something some day! I'm also working with Kinfolk Magazine as their LA Community Host, which will start in June. I'll be collaborating with them to throw a series of events in the LA area throughout the summer. 

    Chantal's advice—
    Emerging artists to follow: Wyatt Kahn, Erik Lindman, Mary Ramsden, Gabriel Pionkowski,  Pia Camil, David Ostrowski, Nicholas Pilato, and Landon Metz.

    On New York vs. LA: There is a lot of crossover between New York and LA as far as art and design goes, and possibly now more than ever before. Living in New York taught me how to hustle, how to be uncomfortable most of the time, and how to use that discomfort to inform my creative process. LA has taught me how to relax, how to live in the moment, and how to find inspiration in my immediate surroundings. 

    How to get inspired: It's just as important [as creating] to take time to observe and listen. Taking breaks from producing and focusing on your experience, allowing that experience to resonate and shape what you ultimately deliver into the world. 

    Surround yourself with good people: I'm lucky to be around people who are constantly creating and that motivates me to do the same.

    Travel often: I know a lot of people consider it a luxury, but it's an absolute necessity for me, so I've chosen to make it a priority in my life. I love living in Los Angeles but I never want to feel stagnant, I want to keep exploring. 

    Be open-minded: I'll go where life takes me.

    Read Chantal's guide to Venice and recipes for a beach house brunch
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