Christopher Lee Sauvé is an art director based in New York City. His clients include Alexander Wang, Diane Von Furstenberg, Theory, Dior and NYC Opera. You may not know his name but you almost certainly know his work. Chris was the mastermind behind the infamous Save Anna campaign, his response to the economic climate in the world. Shortly after, he paid homage to Rachel Zoe by printed two of her famous catchphrases onto a tee.
#$%@! THE RECESSION T-Shirt and SAVE ANNA! T-Shirt
More recently, Christopher has been spending time in Tokyo where his latest exhibit, “FUCK THE RECESSION! SAVE FASHION!” has been taking place in collaboration with Addition Adelaide and International Gallery Beams. The event included window displays, a video installation and limited edition specialty items from his collection (including “Save Anna” tote bags). The highlight of his trip was the banner march through Harajuku where participants shouted “Save fashion! Save Adelaide.”
Fresh off the plane from Tokyo, we caught up with Christopher to ask him a few questions about the life of an art director.
1. Firstly, can you just give me a quick bio about yourself, your job and where you are based.
I grew up in Canada, my father was a photographer, painter and musician and he dabbled in graphic design. He really taught me everything I know artistically along with my mother who is also extremely creative. I started becoming interested in commercial art, fashion at a very young age and have been doing it ever since. I am based in Brooklyn, New York. I operate my own label CHRISTOPHER LEE SAUVE; under this label I design t-shirts, t-shirt dresses, art direct exhibitions, events, photo shoots and videos. Aside from my own label, I also work as a freelance art director for many fashion labels including Alexander Wang, Dior, Theory and Diane Von Furstenberg.
2. You are an art director. What exactly does an art director do? What jobs fall under the category of art director?
That is a good question. The role of an art director can be quite different from job to job, I always see my responsibility as an art director to be a visual communicator that represents a message effectively for the brand, the medium of this message can vary, be it illustration, photography, video, clothing, all these are vessels in which a message must be conveyed and this is carefully crafted by an art director with the assistance of a great team of stylists, photographers, hair/makeup, musicians etc.
DVF Holiday in collaboration with SWEDEN UNLIMITED.
3. You designed the “Save Anna” t-shirts which were part of your Save Anna campaign. Racked NY said they thought it represented a refreshing new sense of empowerment on the part of fashionistas in the Obama era. Were you doing this for fun or were you really out to save Anna?
Save Anna was a response to the current economic climate in America. The news in February 2009 was very depressing and then I kept seeing these articles on rumors of Anna Wintour being replaced by Carine Roitfield in Paris, so I instantly thought SAVE ANNA, which also represents SAVE FASHION and SAVE GLAMOUR etc… It was part of my FUCK THE RECESSION thinking back in early 2009.
4. You have worked with Alexander Wang, DVF and Baby Phat and that’s just the beginning. Any favorite jobs?
If I had to pick a favorite it would be Tokyo; I just designed 3 exhibits called SAVE FASHION! for Beams International Gallery and Addition Adelaide. I designed a limited Edition collection of t-shirts and t-shirt dresses, 8 graffiti walls that I collaged with fashion punk flyers, a video installation and store display. The day of the exhibit opening, a protest was scheduled through Harajuku with marchers in my shirts with banners reading “SAVE FASHION! FUCK THE RECESSION”. David Lindwall was the DJ for the after party at Baron Paris and it was really an amazing time!
DVF Spring Look Book
5. What’s the worst experience you’ve had since beginning your career?
Worst experience would be my first photo shoot. I was very nervous, did not know what was going on and I think I screwed up like 20 times.
6. What’s next/coming up for you? Can you let us in on any secrets?
Next on the agenda… Well I am excited about the inspiration in Tokyo, my sketch book is filled with ideas, and [I am] pretty sure I will be expanding my line this year beyond t-shirts and t-shirt dresses which is very exciting!
7. Obviously, every day is probably different but can you walk us through what your average day is like?
I wake up, drink gallons of coffee, go through all the fashion blogs, read magazines, answer emails, send design concepts, meet with friends for dinner usually at Spring Street Natural or somewhere around Bedford and then come home and do some more work.
8. Were you always artistic/creative? Did you always intend to be an art director?
Yes, I always wanted to be an art director, since I was very little.
9. What was your breakthrough moment when you realized you could make a living out of this?
Depends if you mean freelance or just in general? I have always been sort of a go-getter, so I wasn’t worried about work, it was more a breakthrough gratifying moment for me when I could start being able to chose the projects I wanted to do and the clients I wanted to work with.
10. Lastly, favorite/most inspiring book? Movie? Music?
Most inspiring book to me right now is “The Beautiful Fall” a story about Karl Lagerfeld and YSL in the 1950’s and 60’s in Paris. Also, I am always reading Kabbalah wisdom or Buddhism books and Andy Warhol’s Diary excerpts. Movie that I like would be Sunset Boulevard, I have been sort of obsessed with that one this year, not sure why. Also [I have been] listening to a lot of Simple Minds, especially the track “New Gold Dream”.
PHOTO/ART CREDITS: Christopher Lee Sauve