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get inspired! a peek inside the kitschy, razzle-dazzle world of frida las vegas

get inspired! a peek inside the kitschy, razzle-dazzle world of frida las vegas

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We chat to Stavroula Adameitis about her retro-inspired designs and pop cultural influences, from 80s Australiana to Fran Fine.

Stavroula Adameitis, the Sydney-based designer behind “haute kitsch” brand Frida Las Vegas, describes her aesthetic as a “time-travelling bombastic explosion of fabulousness”. If you’re as tickled by that as we are, swing by her upcoming panel on illustration and digital painting at Adobe MAX 2021, a free, virtual conference for creative types. To whet your appetite, we spoke to Stavroula (aka Stav) about her suburban Adelaide upbringing, her love of The Nanny and the joy of standing out from the crowd.

Hi Stav! Tell us a bit about your background. I grew up in a Greek-Australian household in suburban Adelaide during the late 80s and early 90s. My childhood was spent admiring cream brick houses, popping into the local milk bar after school and drawing outfits. I always had an eye for pop culture and was inspired by music videos from artists like the B52s and George Michael, who mish-mashed art, music and fashion together to spectacular effect.

How did Frida Las Vegas come to be? In 2013, I started making bold, oversized statement acrylic jewelry, eventually progressing to designing textiles and creating acrylic artwork. I shared my work via Instagram and was chuffed when it found an audience online. I design things that are bold and fabulous with a nostalgic vibe, but sprinkled with lashings of humour and heart.

Where did you get the name Frida Las Vegas? It’s a totally un-glamorous story, but I needed something for my OK Cupid dating profile. My friend suggested the name Frida Las Vegas — the artistic femininity of Frida Kahlo with the kitsch tack-o-rama of Las Vegas. It was such a snappy pun and I couldn’t resist.

You’re known for your love of iconically Aussie motifs. How did you develop that aesthetic? In my early 20s I worked in the US and UK. Only by leaving the country could I see what a unique wonderland suburban Australia really was. I realised that the things I remembered from my childhood — seemingly insignificant stuff like the design of a packet of Razzmatazz stockings, Australis perfume from the chemist, the set design of Hey, Hey, It's Saturday — could be a fertile ground for creative exploration.

I wanted to throw up a neon flare in an ocean of drabness, because that's how the suburbs can feel sometimes. Being a designer, ultimately, is creating a world that's infinitely more fun and fab than the one we actually live in.Who are your artistic heroes? I love Fran Drescher as The Nanny. Besides her incredible sense of style. I loved that she was unashamedly fun and cheeky. She inspired me to have a good time and express myself without paying any mind to what other people thought about being ‘too much’.

What do you enjoy about using digital tools to create your designs? I’ve always been into a very perfect, lino-cut look. The great thing about using Adobe Illustrator is that I’m able to achieve that look in less time. Andy Warhol would have loved Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, because they're essentially synthesizing printmaking and screen-printing techniques, but making them accessible to everyone. I don't know if you can get any more ‘pop’ than that.

Tell us about your Adobe MAX session. What do you hope people learn? I'll be sharing stories about my upbringing, and how I pursued art and fashion coming from a Greek-Australian family background. I also go into my textile design processes and digital artwork techniques. Mainly, I would like for the talk to be entertaining. Hopefully viewers can feel inspired to make a start, whatever their idea is, and feel empowered by tools and technology, not afraid of them.

What are you most proud of in your career? Last Christmas, when I put my Flashy Girls From Flushing Nanny caftan on my 90-year-old yiayia (that’s Greek for grandmother), and she was twirling around in her backyard having the best time. She influenced so much of my work, all that time we spent together watching Bold and the Beautiful eating chicken and chips, so it was a special moment.

I love connecting with customers who tell me my designs make them feel happy, confident, and fabulous. They wear my clothing as a way of telling people they’re not afraid to bend the rules and be themselves. There’s no better compliment than people enjoying your work by flaunting their true colours to the world.

This inspiring interview was brought together with help from Adobe MAX 2021, a free, virtual conference taking place Oct 27-28. Whether you’re keen to recharge your creativity or hone your tech skills, head here to choose from over 400 sessions, including Stav’s session “Illustration and Digital Painting”.