Get to know Thistle Brown, Boy About Town
Milk Makeup may be for Milk Girls, by Milk Girls, but that doesn’t mean the boys can’t get in on the action. Case in point: stylist and art director Thistle Brown. A New Zealand native, he studied textiles at Auckland University of Technology, while also working as a designer and stylist. Though he’s still relatively new to NYC, he’s already making his mark, thanks to his unique eye, brilliant fashion sense, and electric personality. When Thistle walks into a room, you can’t help but take notice.
How did you develop your creativity growing up?
I grew up in a very small town, and I was a bit of a black sheep in my family, but my mum always encouraged me to explore my creativity. I carried a drawing pad with me wherever I went, and I have so many visual diaries from my childhood. It was sort of a natural progression to fashion, I just continued to follow different things that inspired me.
Why did you decide to study textiles?
I wanted my studies to be a little bit more open-ended, and textiles provided the perfect foundation for working in the fashion industry. It exposed me to so many different things, from fabric and knitwear to art and furniture design. It was very broad, which was beneficial for me. It allowed me to learn, but still explore and express my own ideas.
What is your creative process when diving into a new project?
It always starts with a conversation with whoever I’m collaborating with—from the photographer to the model or the makeup artist. I really enjoy collaborating with people that I love and am inspired by, it’s so amazing to come up with ideas together and make them a reality.
Are there any artists whose work has had an influence on you?
As a stylist, I’m really drawn to color and how it makes me feel, and how other people respond to it as well. That was reinforced as I studied textiles, so I’ve always held that really dear to me. I love the work of William Eggleston, the American photographer—his use of color is amazing. And I also love the 1970s painter Kenneth Noland. And I am constantly inspired by music.
What are your go-to tracks?
I love to start my day with music, and a lot of the time I like music that is uplifting and makes me dance. Really any album by ESG will do it, and I also love the band Suicide, their song “Dream Baby Dream” is one of my favorites.
What initially drew you to New York?
I think it was the idea of the unknown and getting outside of my comfort zone. New York was the opposite of my surroundings in New Zealand, which was exciting. And I knew that I wanted to be in a place that would allow me to express my ideas and share them with a wider audience, and this city is perfect for that.
What do you feel is the key to personal and creative growth?
I think it’s so important to experience places that are different from where you grew up. When I was 18, I left my hometown to do a three-month course in London, and then spent months traveling around Europe. I made my way to Morocco and spent three weeks living with desert tribes—it was amazing. It really grounded me, and opened my eyes to the world.
Being a lover of fashion, do you have a favorite item of clothing?
I do! Right before I moved to New York from New Zealand, my best friend gave me a Vivienne Westwood t-shirt that features her iconic squiggle print. It’s super old—you can almost smell the nights it’s seen. I love it.
Check out Thistle’s work here.
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