Feb 11, 2021
A true classic is someone who doesn’t follow the crowd, and instead paves a new way for others. To celebrate these brave and bold few, and the launch of the New Classics collection — a reinvention of our most iconic jackets — we’re introducing our new team of Barbour International Classics.
In this blog, these true originals and creative pioneers will tell us about their journey to where they are now, including their biggest turning point so far. So, let's meet them. Introducing, creative director and motorcycle adventurer, Ricky Phoolka; photographer, director and writer Aiden Harmitt Williams; print artist, Thomas Mayo; and artist and founder of Artists Support Pledge, Matthew Burrows MBE.
How did you get into the creative industry?
Ricky: My journey into the Creative industry was progressive. When I was in university, we didn't have specialised courses for digital design or 3D animation. It's something I had to learn on my own. I got my first break as a 3D artist and then transitioned to digital designer and worked my way up to become a Digital Art Director working for fashion, entertainment and lifestyle brands.
I have always had a keen interest in film and photography, and it's something I pursued on the side. When I started as a Creative Director, the experience I had gained from working in these diverse fields was invaluable.
What has been your journey in the art world?
Matthew: In many ways my experience of the art world has been fairly linear. I studied Fine Art at Birmingham School of Art then a Master’s degree at the Royal College of Art in London. From there, I was given a year-long studio residency in the USA. I was fortunate in having commercial gallery representation quite early in my career. For the last eight years I’ve been represented by Vigo Gallery London. Of course, the reality of life as an artist is far from linear. It’s definitely a career for the adventurous!
How did you uncover your passion and talent for photography?
Aiden: My passion for photography was born from a desire to create which I’ve had since I was a child. Regardless of the medium, it’s always been my calling to create. Writing was my first love and along the way, photography was picked up because I thought, “why not?".
How did you uncover your passion and talent for printmaking?
Thomas: I think this started during my uni days, where I experimented with letterpress whilst studying graphic design. I really enjoyed designing with my hands — using physical objects as opposed to designing on the computer. You have more limitations with letterpress, so you learn to use what you have and use it in the best way possible.
Who/what inspires you to create?
Aiden: At risk of sounding vain; knowing all too well that “all is vanity”, what inspires me most is myself. I can rarely create if I don’t feel like what I’m creating is true to me or at least something that I believe is reflective of my experience because, after all, that is what I’ve spent most of my time living. I’m all too aware that there’s nothing new under the sun so I try my best to avoid things seen before at all costs and if it isn’t touching at least rarely trodden ground then inspiration will pass me by.
What are the most important lessons you've learned about chasing your dreams?
Ricky: Your dreams are your dreams, don't let anyone tell you that they're foolish or impossible. Believe in yourself, and the sky's the limit. We are fortunate to be presented with many opportunities in today's world, and it's just about making them happen.
What lessons have you learned about people’s perception of art over the years?
Matthew: I have learnt that to really see, we must look with a patient and curious eye. By looking at all people, creatures and places with an open eye and a generous spirit you will see their truth and beauty.
What defines a true classic?
Ricky: A true classic never goes out of style and always looks current. It is the quality of a piece that ultimately makes it timeless, and something that you can return to again and again.
Aiden: The simplest way for me to think of a classic is musically. When an album is a classic it’s unapologetic in its messaging, stylistically timeless, influential beyond question and oftentimes, makes you feel something.
Matthew: A classic is both timeless and authentic to its values. Values that are timeless.
Thomas: I think originality, design and quality makes a true classic. Something that can stand the test of time is usually well-made and becomes iconic.
What barriers are there to creating something truly classic?
Matthew: Anything that compromises the authenticity and integrity of those creating it. Perhaps the best way to make a classic is to create the best conditions from which it might emerge. These conditions would include a clear sense of its values, an open and creative environment in which to test ideas and responding to these with an open eye.
What advice would you give to someone who is bursting to create, but can’t find the courage or their original slant on things?
Thomas: Focus on what you love to do first of all — what you enjoy doing creatively. If you enjoy the creative process, then you will find your talent will blossom the more you stick at it.
What do you love most about the New Classics collections?
Aiden: I’ve always been a man of function, so I love that fact that whilst being stylish, the jackets offer up the features too, such as warmth, being waterproof and quality that’s built to last.
Thomas: As a keen motorcyclist I love the jacket designs, with the large slanted chest pocket and easy access zips and buttons for when I have my gloves on.
Ricky: I love the combination of classic motorcycle detailing with a retro feel. The style and authenticity and choice of fabrics and colours make it a great selection to choose from.
Matthew: The new collection is very versatile; it is equally at home in a town or the country and looks fantastic in both.
When you think of Barbour International, what springs to mind?
Aiden: When I think of Barbour International, I think of quality. Quality and perseverance,
Ricky: Things that spring to mind are Barbour International's rich motorcycling heritage, quality, and timeless style.
Thomas: For as long as I can remember Barbour International jackets in particular have been my family’s go-to, because of their heritage, high-quality and ability to do the job they were designed to do.
Matthew: Tradition, in the best sense. It knows its story and is not afraid to evolve whilst maintaining its core values.
What do you want your legacy to be?
Ricky: When I look back, I hope to be proud of being a good father, husband and friend.
Aiden: More than anything, for those that I love to know that through everything; I did my best.
Matthew: I would like my legacy to be my paintings. Of course, I’m very proud of what Artist Support Pledge has achieved, but in many ways they both manifest most fully how I see and the values that I live and work by.
Thomas: I would love my legacy to show my work in letterpress printing, my books and posters, some of which are in Universities. I like the idea of my posters adorning walls around the world for many years to come.
Discover more about our New Classics collection here.