TUK this blog
Artist feature: Kelsey Rubenstein & Dave Fearn
Kelsey & Dave showing off their style in the Black Leather & Black Suede 1970 Original Creepers. The classics never go out of style. The Original Creepers collection brings us back to where Creepers began. Punk style forever.
Tell me about yourself & your brand, Whatever No Big Deal:
My name is Kelsey, I'm a valley rat and I make Whatever No Big Deal. It is a unique, handmade, slow, freak fashion "brand" with a punk, DIY, anti-establishment ethos. The name is social commentary on a lot of people's apathetic view of the world and things happening around them.
How did you get into designing clothes?
I realized at a young age I wasn't in control of much, but I felt empowered dressing myself.I always had my own style.Clothing can be a form of protest and a statement in and of itself. As a teen I was always sewing patches, studding, altering my clothes somehow. When I got older I wasn't seeing anyone making the things that I wanted to wear so I started making them at home. I'm not a great seamstress, I can sew a bit, but I love painting and screen printing on clothing. I started Whatever NBD in 2015 with hand-painted vintage Levi's. I've always found the best things second hand. I am against fast fashion and wanted my brand to make people think about where their clothing is coming from and who is profiting off of it. I use recycled materials as to not add excess waste to landfills damaging our planet further. Using vintage re-worked also means each item is one of a kind. Each person is unique and the people who purchase it, it's only theirs. The connection we both share sometimes blossoms into a friendship. Thats what I'm here for. Connection through art.
For all the clothes I dreamt I had in high school I design some some cut & sew stuff with my friend Anna (who has her own brand @indyanna_fashion). She and our friend Sophia make everything by hand in Berlin. We design a few things a year together. They are some of my favorite pieces and they're very well made. Anna has a store in Berlin called CoExist where you can find a lot of our stuff.
What’s the typical process of coming up with a new design?
Usually it starts with a feeling. Lately I'm fueled by anger. Politics stay at the front of my mind so everything has a message behind it. I make clothes for underdogs, for people like me, who love people and hate the system. I trust my gut and just go with it. I freehand everything.
Where do you usually find the clothes to recycle and rework?
I scour thrift stores, estate sales, vintage stores, etc. Since COVID-19 I've resorted to eBay to find blank vintage t-shirts I can screen print on. Luckily, I've been collecting for years so I have piles of materials to work with.
Where do you find inspiration to create a new piece?
Most of the time all I have to do is look at a piece of clothing and I'll know what to do with it.
Any new projects coming up?
I've put Whatever NBD on hold for the moment as I don't want to take away from the leaders and Black voices we need to be hearing. I designed a page for the magazine that David is working on that I'm really excited to be a part of.
What’s your biggest accomplishment within the brand?
It's all relative. To me I'm accomplishing big things just by creating and sharing my unadulterated art. I love the things that I make, or I wouldn't make them. My "brand" isn't motivated by money. I've kept my integrity and never sold out or done something " good for my career" at the expense of someone else. I've had my clothing in magazines and on celebrities, but it means more to me that I see the same faces coming to pop-up shops and the same names continuously supporting me with their orders and creating lasting friendships.
Tell me about yourself:
I'm 37, born in middle England, found in London, now mobbing around in Los Angeles. I must be a real Angeleno because I get to tell people I'm a photographer when in reality I pay my bills as a delivery driver and smashing concrete / demolition.
How did you get into photographing punk shows?
I moved to L.A. six years ago to marry forever after with Kelsey, and I got sucked into the thriving local music scene. Taking photos was a way to make friends and feel useful. Photography became my keys to the city. Now when I look around all my friends are musicians and artists and that's just how I like it.
What was your first camera?
About 20 years ago I cycled across India for a laugh, and on the way out there I splashed out on a little point & shoot digital at the airport. I think it was a two megapixel Kodak and I felt real fancy holding such exquisite technology. It was my first time traveling alone and that little camera became my travel buddy, and my window into a strange new place. I shot so many photos on my bicycle and to this day some of those frames are up there with my favorites.
What’s your favorite set you’ve shot?
Anything fast and loud and dangerous is good by me. I vibe with that impending sense of peril when I enter a space for a punk show. I get swept up by the energy, the fury, the wild abandon. If I feel slightly threatened by it all, if its hard to stay on my feet and hold the camera, then I know I'm in the right place and something good is coming. Spit, sweat, blood and physical carnage makes for a great photo, and if you get knocked down there are many hands reaching out to help you right back up.
At the same time some of my favorite shots are from other kinds of shows just because the lighting was good or the band was doing something interesting. I'm completely uninterested in indulging the celebrity of rocknroll and I don't collect bands like baseball cards - some of my favorite ever shows have been a local band in a dive bar on a Tuesday with no cover.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen at a punk show?
I may or may not have seen a band in London a few years ago where the lead singer shit in his hand on stage. Not mentioning any names but it rhymes with Shat Shite Shmamily.
What’s the story behind the name shitshowdave?
For years I resisted getting on Instagram as I was far too snobbish to wade into the cattle market of social media, but when I relented it was just the handle I chose and it stuck. The world doesn't need another guy called Dave, and Shitshow makes for a funny byline.
Are you currently working on any projects?
Covid brought the world to a crunching halt so there's no gigs right now and my photo work dried up. I've done just one band shoot in the last three months, and it was outdoors with masks and socially distant with the spectacular Death Valley Girls. In my spare time I've been learning to tattoo by practicing on my legs, because a new hobby is a great way to stay sane in a world gone tits-up.
The current civil rights movement has rightly displaced much of the self-serving art of music promo and we are all having to think more carefully about what projects we apply ourselves to and what values we choose to align with. Right now there is nothing more important than fighting oppression and together we ought to be rising up against tyrannical systems of power, and I'd like to think punk is well equipped to throw down on this. Most of us have been waiting on this moment for a long time and real revolution might just be possible. I have a zine project in the pipeline anthologizing poster art from 35 international artists who have all submitted something loud and provocative, mostly centered around police violence. We are almost ready to go to print, with all proceeds being donated to support the Trans Justice Funding Project because Black Trans Lives Matters.
Great article. Interesting couple. I’m definitely going to check out their work!!!