Accessory designer Becky Brisco is not only a good friend of mine but one of the most talented individuals I know. Sometimes I feel like she has the ability to stop time with her great storytelling. Her effect on people is also captured in her work which is delicate and timeless as her magical memories. We chat with Becky about growing up with older brothers, getting lost in the woods and the romantic idea of a stranger wearing one of the objects that she has created.
How was it growing up with two brothers? Did they rough you up a bit as a kid? I know one of your brothers was a skate punk…I bet he scared all the boys that tried to come close to his baby sis?
My other brother was really into metal so those fabric band banners were rampant in our house. There were always guys smoking on our porch during my brother’s band practice breaks. I would sneak into my brother’s rooms and snatch their Pushead inspired graphics that they had doodled.
The first time a boy with any serious ‘potential’ phoned for me, my oldest brother answered and immediately said “If you touch my sister, I will break both your legs!” and hung up. Word spread, I was mortified. I become ultra-secretive after that. When my brothers moved out of the house it coincided with the onset of my teen-age angst. The silence of the house and the absence of that energy was more then noticeable. It definitely contributed to my ‘dark’ stage. I have always been aware of how lucky I am to have siblings to be there for each other to get through the bad, and recollect the good. But don’t get me wrong, my head was farted on, and my brothers’ arms were scratched to shit.
You grew up with a father that worked with Ducks Unlimited and was a collector of antiques. Has being brought up in this type of environment influence your life and work in any way?
My father is really into conservation of wetlands-it was a common conversation at the dinner table. All the men in my family hunt. Every Sunday we would eat the waterfowl that my father and brother’s had hunted. We saw the whole process; from marsh, to ducks hanging in the garage, to preparing them, then having dinner and giving thanks to them. It made us really aware and respectful of the delicate balance of life and what it takes to get food on the table.
Collecting and selling antiques was largely what my father has done for a living. He has always taken the time to tell me of the different histories of his many objects. I always loved walking through my dad’s mess and touching those objects. I would imagine all the other lives that had enjoyed them or had maybe created them. I would think of how these people from the past and I were now linked. I would like to contribute to that cycle somehow with the things I make.
My dad invented this fun game on the beach where we would all choose a washed out brick or drift wood from the shore and make up a story about where it had come from. I don’t think my dad considers himself to be a creative person but he really is. Sometimes I will make him draw random things because I love watching those people who say ‘I can’t draw’ get creative. It is cute and usually something awesome comes out of it.
As long as I have known you, you’ve always had a fondness for beautiful books and delicate objects. Do you remember a toy or an object that you coveted growing up that you still have to this day that makes you nostalgic when you look at it?
I have many! Off the top of my head I would say a wax doll with human hair from when my grandmother was a little girl. I cherish it. My grandmother also gave me her baptism dress that she, my great grandmother , my aunts, uncles and mother all wore when they were babies. I also love my childhood diaries for humour’s sake and my mother’s journal from her last summer while I was away at camp. Also, a chunk of amethyst that my father brought from the Colorado desert.
You went to school for fashion design and industrial design. Can you give us a little bit of insight on your schooling?
I studied at Beal an arts high school in London, Textile arts at Concordia University in Montreal and earned my diploma in fashion design. After that I enrolled in Industrial Design at Emily Carr University here in Vancouver. I did an internship with Marcel Wanders in Amsterdam and that was an amazing experience. I really enjoyed being a student. Having the freedom to experiment, and being surrounded by the energy that exists in creative schools is what I love.
What was the most valuable lesson that you learned from your educational experiences?
To always approach a project with the inquisitive nature that one has as a student. I always try to remind myself of that.
What kind of music were you into growing up?
Salt N Pepa, Boyz ll Men, ABC, BBD, Madonna, Janet and Michael, Prince. As I got older, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu Tang Clan, Pharcyde, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Superchunk, Dinosaur Jr, Can, NIN, Notorious BIG, Snoop, Nas, The Pixies, My Bloody Valentine, L7, DJ Shadow, PJ Harvey, Bjork, Portishead, Pavement, YoLaTengo, Tortoise, The Breeders, Leonard Cohen.
Do you think Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain?
What is your perception of the over convenience and abundance of social media and how content spreads?
There is something a little A.D.D. about some of the blogs out there, like changing channels too fast, making a never ending collage, or only reading the first chapter of a book. I think there is a lot to be said for physically hunting for information. My boyfriend was talking to me the other day about the joy of reading liner notes as a teen and how it would trigger a whole treasure hunt for more music from the names mentioned in those liner notes. That kind of thing doesn’t seem to happen much anymore. People don’t even remember the names of people that they post on their own blog! There are plenty of really great things online as well, so I guess it’s about balance. But I do love being surrounded by my books and handwritten notes. Precious objects carries with them a sense of intimacy.
Do you ever want to just live in the middle of the woods like Daniel Boone and just get lost sometimes?
I’d be scared if I was lost and alone. But I’d love to live in a little village in the woods. I would love to know my neighbours, and see kids playing with water guns and have a garden to tend to. An island or farm would be sweet too.
Did you ever go through a phase growing up that you thought you were a lesbian?
Nope. I have always loved boys. (See my diary entry from 1987) Superman, George Burns, Luke Skywalker (not the 2LiveCrew one!), Balthazar Getty, River and Leaf Phoenix, and a boy named Joey Chua are the first notable men in my memory bank.
When did you decide to go into making jewelry?
In 2003 I met my friend Beau Kerner. He helped me get some of my ideas happening and then we collaborated as AnEmergency®.
I always admire the quality and the integrity of the product that you create mainly because its not mass produced and a lot of it is bound by hand. Is this artisan approach important in your process?
Yes, making something more personal gives it a competitive advantage and I like imagining someone in the future caring for it, wondering about it. It is like having a conversation with a stranger if I were to think of it romantically.
No I am learning but I am not good yet. My papa (grandpa) plays and sings. The songs he plays are usually funny. About picking up hot chicks during war times and stuff. I get sad to think about how these songs are all in his head and that they will disappear one day. When I see him I really milk it and get him to perform them all for me. Lucky for me he loves requests and loves performing.
Do you think if your cat Buxton was a dude he would have a cig in his mouth and wear a motorcycle jacket?
For sure. It has already happened in 01 magazine Issue No. 2. It also looks like he has collaborated with Jun Takahashi / Undercover this season, but I think that that it might be is his long lost Japanese cousin or something.