I’ve known Lotte since she was a baby-I knew her Mum, Ingrid, and her Dad, Toby. We were all part of the diverse mesh that made up the West London massive scene that busted at the seams with creatives in the mid-late 80s.
It’s been a delight watching Lotte go from toddler, to girl, to teen, to woman. And not just any woman, one who’s a force to be reckoned with. This one can hold her own.
Before leaving her BA in fashion, Lotte interned hard, working for creatives such as designer Alexander McQueen and rising star photographer Tyrone Lebon.
Just like me, she loved clothes but not so much the industry. During this period, however, Lotte began working for tailor and founder of Granny Takes A Trip (iconic 60’s clothing store), John Pearse. He became her mentor, encouraging her curiosity by giving her certain books to read, advised her on museums and exhibits she should attend, what films to watch.
For the last couple of years, Lotte has been dividing her time between her innovative, “DIY” club night, MAXILLA and the accompanying zine and baby-stepping into the corporate advertising world as an Art Director.
The saying goes, “never meet your heroes”. But there is something to be said for meeting those you admire the morning after the night before: one of the first things art director and MAXILLA founder Lotte Andersen says to me – after chancing upon her en route to her East London studio – is a candid admission of a mild hangover and a need for nourishment. And I – formerly flustered from a morning spent trying to recalibrate my Dictaphone, and the prospect of meeting one of London’s most exciting young creatives – am immediately put at ease.
Stopping by Ivy’s Mess Hall, Dalston – for coffee, cranberry juice and eggs, scrambled and poached – ease soon develops into illuminating and sparky conversation. “I hate working for other people – everyone knows I hate working for other people,” Andersen, 26, declares at one point. Collaboration is key in the world of 21st century creation, but Andersen has found “doing creative work for other people” to mean having to discard much of one’s own “aesthetic… morals and… politics”.
I offer that it’s hard to tell – as a consumer – if Andersen has had to compromise on her vision in any way by working with such a strongly branded corporation, as the visuals for her Adidas Stellasport campaign are so strong and imbued with her inimitable style. After a moment of reflection, Andersen agrees that the campaign was indeed successful: “It was really fun. It was a massive learning curve: it was the first major corporate job I’d ever done. I earnt my stripes: I learnt how to send emails.” Now it’s my turn to laugh. “No, literally!”.
Growing up in West London, surrounded by the dynamism of the city’s
art scene and familial creativity – “my Dad is a DJ – a musician: he was in bands, he was throwing parties; my Mum was super into clothes and really stylish…” – Andersen’s career trajectory was far from serendipitous. “I was trained to do it… it makes so much sense.” But it was also far from premeditated. “The wonderful thing I’ll say about any work that I do – I’ll always say it’s a huge accident”.
As for where Andersen hopes her future trajectory will take her, and what she’s had to leave behind: “My parties were fun – though, I don’t do them anymore (the final MAXILLA party will be held tonight, May 27th); we’re in a different time, now. When you look back at the last six months and all of the things that have changed, like: what music you listened to, the clothes you wanted to wear, what you’ve noticed other people doing, the parties that have happened, what’s politically happened in the world -like, how many attacks there have been in the last six months, how that’s changed our psyches… And you just start patchworking [all of] that to make something that reflects… and, hopefully, that resonates.”
This ‘patchwork’ of ideas – this synthesis of external factors into one -something she did so well with MAXILLA- how is she going to go about furthering it in her future work?
“I want to make a book,” Andersen responds without hesitation. Later, at her studio, she presents various components of said book which she named Problem Child – in addition to older works and oddments. Asked to describe the book in four words, Andersen goes with a potential tagline of “it’s about growing up”. At the heart of it, Problem Child isn’t a world away from MAXILLA; but, there has been a progression in thought, a refinement of style, and the former will confound those who try to pin Andersen down within the parameters of the work she did with her club night and zine.
Robin Wasserman writes, in What Does It Mean When We Call Women Girls, that the Riot Grrrl movement of the early ‘90s “invented the modern usage of ‘girl-power’… [before it was] annexed by the Spice Girls, harmonizing harbingers of lipstick feminism”.
Riot Grrrl is also, arguably, the progenitor of the type of aesthetic Andersen advocates – namely, very visceral, sophisticated yet wholly unfussy, and purposefully pointed. So, it is unsurprising that, in Problem Child- comprised primarily of Ad copy and original prose- that there is an excellent piece on the Spice Girls’ formation and faux-feminism. Problem Child is set to be a lot of fun – and full of candour, too.
Recalling the words of artist, educator and nun, Corita Kent – “celebration is a human need that we must not, and can not, deny” – and a similar sentiment Andersen has expressed in a previous interview, I ask about celebration and what it means to her now: “[Celebration is] radical… There’s such a burden on the youth at the moment – which I really don’t think is fair… Also, I think it’s counter-productive – y’know? I think measures of austerity don’t necessarily bring out the best. I really think it’s when people are happy, comfortable and feel at ease that you get the best out of anyone.”
Tara Okeke is a writer and artist, as well as an eighteen-year-old student and (soon-to-be) English Literature undergrad, from London.