The Grey Attic was founded by Annika Hein and Dean Bell, a creative duo based in Melbourne, Australia. With nearly a decade of experience in the fashion, marketing and publishing industries, Dean and Annika work together and individually to produce creative concepts and beautiful, authentic imagery for editorials and advertising. They are known for producing work filled with a strong sense of artistry, vision and depth. We talk to Creative Director Annika about what inspires her, finding new avenues to express yourself and how she came to be an artist.
What was the inspiration behind the creation of The Grey Attic?
The Grey Attic has continued to evolve since Dean and I founded the company in 2014. At first it was more of a creative agency, however as we grew and developed personally and creatively, we began to refine our objective and the brand’s aesthetic. The Grey Attic is essentially now a way for Dean and I to work artistically together under the same name and to an aesthetic we’ve crafted and curated carefully together. We still work on individual projects of course, however our inspirations, goals and values compliment and strengthen each other’s.
Our concentrated creative efforts are guided towards preserving the way we interact, create and consume fashion and art. So in 2016, we decided to develop this approach and our contribution further with the launch of jane. by the grey attic.jane. is a biannual fashion publication shot entirely on film and printed on paper. It explores the disciplines of art, photography, fashion and poetry. Changing the perception that print is disposable, jane. is a slow art movement that has been created with the upmost consideration to provide an authentic, progressive and timeless vision and voice.
Did you always want to be an artist? When did you decide to pursue a creative career?
I don’t know if it was ever really a conscious decision, but rather a direction taken out necessity. I never sat down and purposely chose to be a creative, it’s just what I already was. From as far back as I can remember I was producing and creating things, but similarly to the direction I’ve taken now, it was always in a multi-disciplinary sense. I wrote poems and stories, which I still have on a floppy disk, kept journals and travel diaries as a way to document and make note of the world around me and constantly took photographs on my little gold point and shoot. I would have spent at least half of my pocket money on getting film developed at the local camera shop. When I was about eight or nine, I used to dress my little sister up in these elaborate outfits and each look came with its own personality, directive and accompanying set design. We’d create and experiment with these fashion stories and photograph the characters in the narratives. At the time we were just having fun, but even then I had pretty strong ideas about the direction and styling.
I was always interested in the idea of documenting the world around me, and the concept of developing artistic narratives lead by this element of observation, and I think those two primary principals still make up much of the foundations of my creative work today.
Between you and Dean you have created a very beautiful aesthetical alias as you describe yourselves. Have you found inspiration in each other and your relationship?
Yes, of course, The Grey Attic is essentially an extension of Dean and myself, both aesthetically and philosophically. We work in the same studio together up to fourteen hours a day, six days a week, so I don’t think the dynamic would work if we weren’t providing each other with creative and emotional support and inspiration, and prompting personal and artistic growth. We can relate to each other on a different level, which helps to keep each other sane and grounded, while still ensuring we’re pushing our own individual work further and remaining creatively curious. We’re working towards the same common goal, which is providing both of us with the same sense of fulfilment and enjoyment, so I think we’re incredibly lucky to have each other.
Your writing is absolutely beautiful and extremely evocative - Who is your favourite writer and why?
Thank you so much, I find such freedom in working with words, creating stories and narratives that explore variations of my reality and observations. The act of reading is such an important part of my psyche – the book, the words, the pages. I read constantly, and from such a broad range of genres and authors, so it’s really hard for me to differentiate a favourite writer, however the three who are resonating with me the most at the moment are Haruki Murakami, Joan Didion and Patti Smith.
Are there any common themes you try to communicate with your art?
Through both The Grey Attic and jane. we want to create a visual world that we are proud to be a part of. Art that represents an idealistic view of the industry we wanted to contribute to. We consciously work to connect the notions of time, art and fashion and to change the way we as a society consume and create art. We want to slow things down and make works that people keep. With jane. specifically, our aim was to create a publication that brought life and appreciation back into slower processes. To reintroduce readers to tangible elements of art, art they could lose themselves in and consume slowly and indulgently.
You have already explored a number of the arts, are there any other creative mediums you would like to experiment with but haven't?
I’m not much of a drawer, but I’ve been experimenting with paints and charcoal recently. I’m a complete perfectionist, so it’s definitely sets a different pace working in a format that doesn’t come instinctually.
You and Dean have created great success together, do you think you would be doing the work you're doing now if you hadn't met each other That’s really hard to know, I’m sure we would both be pursing creative and artistic paths, but would our direction and inspiration would be the same? I don’t think so.
Imagery taken from GREY ATTIC X STEVIE MAY campaign - Shop the story here.