DONT WALK Preview: Interview with Leigh Walderman and Paula Murmann
By: Emma Corcoran
ST.ART Magazine has your exclusive preview of one of the most highly anticipated events of the year: DONT WALK 2016, featuring the world-renowned artist Otto Knows. We recently sat down with Creative Director Leigh Walderman and PR Manager Paula Murmann to discuss the vision behind the DW 2016 'rebranding' campaign and 'High Definition' theme, as well as what hopes they have for this year's show and what attendees can expect to see.
An Interview with Leigh Walderman and Paula Murmann
ST.ART: Why don’t you start by telling me a little bit about yourselves?
LW: I’m Leigh, Creative Director of DW, and this is Paula, our very talented Head of PR. This is her first year on the DW committee, and she’s done an incredible job, considering she was kind of thrown into the position.
PM: It’s been fun though!
LW: And then this is my second year working for DW – much easier the second time around.
ST.ART: How have your roles evolved into what they are now since you first began working for DW?
LW: Originally, I was told what my role would be, so went into the position doing whatever I was told to do, but the more that I got to know people and started to find my feet, I eventually moulded it to shape my skillset. We were just talking about this the other day, actually – the roles themselves are so narrowly defined, and you only realise this when you start working, but you end up collaborating with everyone, you know? We all end up helping each other, so many things overlap – that’s what makes it such a family vibe.
ST.ART: How have you enjoyed it so far?
PM: It’s been an amazing experience. As Leigh said, I was sort of thrown into it, so I had to figure it all out myself, but it’s been a great experience.
LW: I think it’s the best learning experience you can actually get, because it’s practical. It's so fulfulling, too, to put so much work into something and then see how it comes to fruition.
ST.ART: So tell me about this year’s theme, ‘High Definition’. How did you come up with this concept?
LW: I actually came up with ‘High Definition’ because I’m an International Relations student, and I thought it would be kind of cool in my last year to do a theme that took from what I learned in school. It’s based off of the new security paradigm of the 21st century, so the surveillance society. Everything that we do, physically and digitally, is monitored, with mobile tracking systems and CCTV cameras that colonise every inch of public space. It’s an artistic commentary on the threat of mass surveillance and the notion of privacy.
I want to be careful here, because I don’t want to give away too much, but you’ll see this theme through the opening of the show, which I’m really excited about – it’s the most exciting part. It’s about a ‘High Definition’ surveillance system that creates a crisp and vivid picture of our every movement and action. I love changing the theme. We have creative flexibility, and we always try to choose a theme or a message that seeks to inspire, challenge, simulate. DW is a great outlet for that.
ST.ART: How did you choose the fashion to fit that theme (without giving away too much, obviously)?
LW: We were looking for more modern, structured clothing. This year, it’s much less about the design and pattern of the clothing and more about the cut and shape.
ST.ART: I’m sure the impact of the clothing coming down the runway is also something to take into consideration.
LW: Absolutely. Also, the opening of the first half and second half is usually when you have the clothing most related to the theme, because we always try to tell a story through the fashion – so keep your eyes peeled!
ST.ART: This year especially, DW has done such a tremendous job in terms of PR and marketing, establishing a strong presence among the student body and hosting different events throughout the year. What has that experience been like?
PM: It’s crazy! What we try to do is prolong a continuous campaign throughout the entire year. For us, it’s always important to remain present, because we are a brand. As much as we create a fashion show, we still want to be in people’s minds and to express the theme throughout the entire year. We do work for the show, but ultimately, we want to maintain a presence, throughout the first semester as well. We do that through the events we’ve hosted, our launch party, the event we had at Hype, but then also the online graphics; for us, it’s a partnership between the presence in the nightlife and actual promotional graphics.
LW: Right. I have a graphic design background, so when I first came into the position, I thought, ‘Okay, I know what I want to do: I want to make DW more professional and create a more cohesive brand image’. We started to do last year, with the rebranding, and then this year, Paula helped me maintain that and cement our brand through events on top of the graphics, website design and online content. We try to keep in mind everything, so that it all comes together.
ST.ART: I’m sure you’re both getting so excited for Saturday. Are there certain looks that you’re most looking forward to seeing come down the runway?
LW: Vivian Westwood, 100 per cent. I am so excited. Amanda Wakeley – we used her clothing in one of the photoshoots, and the dresses were stunning, so I can’t wait to see that. We also have up-and-coming designers. It’s nice because there’s such a wide range of high end to up-and-coming, smaller brands. I’ve made some accessories for the two openings, so we’ll see how that goes. It’s still in the works, and it’s kind of experimental, so I won’t actually know if it works until we do the tech rehearsal, but hopefully – fingers crossed!
ST.ART: What’s been one of the most rewarding experiences so far this year?
PM: I mean, we’ll see what happens with the show; when it all comes together – especially with all the work we’ve put in and we’ve all been in sync, communicating nonstop – but when you’re actually standing there and it all comes together, that’s a pretty insane moment. But you know, I wouldn’t say there’s one moment; at least for me, the entire experience has been so rewarding. You really challenge yourself, and as a committee, we constantly try to push ourselves, and push each other, to be better and stronger. I think it’s a learning process; we learn from each other, and it’s quite nice in that regard.
LW: I think it’s all been fulfilling, but I’ll tell you, the times I get the most excited is when I’m listening to the tracks that our DJs made for the show – it just gives me chills. I’m so excited to hear that on full blast in Kinkell this weekend. And then obviously, I think one of the most standout moments of this year was when we signed with Otto Knows. That was pretty incredible. I think he’s one of the biggest artists that’s ever really been to St Andrews; the biggest artist DW has ever done, that’s for sure. It helps with our brand image and professionalism; it takes it to the next level. Last year, we really started the rebranding, and that was the beginning of it, but now – with the events and Otto, the graphics, everything – DW is at the top of it’s game now, and it’s nice to create that higher level of expectation.
ST.ART: So it’s been this process of rebranding. How has that worked?
LW: I redid the logo last year, hired a professional photographer for our editorials, I designed a new website, directed short art films… it’s just interesting that you can do something that changes the theme, and people respond to it. Last year, we ‘tagged the town’ with DW graffiti, and now, I’ve seen other events do that, and I think that’s great. I’m happy that DW started this trend. It’s cool. It changes the game.
ST.ART: What are your hopes for the night of the show?
LW: I just hope it goes smoothly. If it goes to plan, then that’s fantastic. It won’t, because nothing ever goes to plan [laughs], but I just hope that any obstacles that come our way, we can deal with it. It’s stressful because so much has to be done in such a short period of time. Setting up the venue last year, we finished just in time, as people started entering. This year, we have a very strict schedule thanks to our Event Director Jacob Øen. He’s great. It’s so organised, so everything hopefully will go as planned.
ST.ART: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
PM: This year, we’re trying to do something very different with our photography; we’ve tried to create an army of our own photographers. Our professionalism is to another level. We need to be on our ‘A’ game. There’s no room for mistakes, there’s no room for error; we can’t mess up. That’s why I think we’ve been so strong this year, because we’ve had to step it all up, and I think bringing in someone so amazing and so big of a name like Otto Knows and who so renowned… there’s no choice.
LW: But it’s good – it’s good pressure.
PM: Right, it’s good pressure, like you said, to be on top of things.
LW: I think it’s always good to be challenged; you only do better.
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