“Really, my creative field is limitless. I like to keep it as open and free as possible,” explained Gordon Holliday. Known in the creative world as Roole, he is a multitalented and innovative artist who works in a variety of artistic fields, including photography, videography and fashion design. Roole is a senior photography major (with a concentration in retail studies) at UNCG and a resident and inaugural fellow of Think House U.
“It’s funny — I think I’ve dabbled in about every degree here at UNCG,” Roole reflected. “At first I was an entrepreneurship major because I do like working on my own business and I do like having my own venture, but then I realized I’m not really a business person. I like to do business, but I don’t like to be in business. I felt like I started to turn into a robot or something — not me. I took myself out of there and I went to the art program. I was like, ‘Okay I’m just going to be an artist.’ Then I realized it was a little bit too much freedom. So I started graphic design, and then I realized I don’t like graphic design as much as I thought I did. I swiveled into photography because I’d been doing photography for so long.”
“It started building itself into fashion and I started noticing that there are different types of photographers. The type of photographer I was interested in being was a fashion photographer,” he continued.
Roole developed his interest in fashion design when he was in high school. After moving from Baltimore to North Carolina, he felt like kind of an outcast and began to use art as an outlet for self-expression.
“Anyone who makes that transition knows how drastic a change that is, going from a city to a rural county,” Roole explained. “It was such a drastic change for me so I didn’t fit in with a lot of kids a lot of the time. I kind of kept to myself, so one of the ways I would zone out in my own world was through art and by making this extravagant world where I could just play and have unlimited freedom and no one would judge me. So it started there and as I got more into the art I started noticing, you know in high school how everybody has their own swag and that one thing that makes them them.”
Inspired by what his peers were wearing, Roole got a job, started saving money, eventually bought his first press and began to design T-shirts.
Eventually, Roole got bored of making T-shirts. Realizing that it is easy for just about anyone to make T-shirts, he felt inclined to create something more unique. He decided to create original pieces of clothing.
Roole’s work is inspired by a wide variety of sources, including other artists, musicians and the world around him.
“We live in the 21st century and we see over 5,000 images a day in our workspace, commercials, TV, on the laptop… We are always constantly under visual stimulation,” Roole explained. “I’m very sensitive to what I see and the things I’m looking at and, with that in mind, I keep a tally of what I’m watching and what I’m looking at in order to get to that next level. Lately, my inspirations have been this futuristic style. ‘The Matrix’ is one of my favorite movies and is one of my inspirations. I’ve been looking at movie references [and] fashion designers [such as] Raf Simons, Jeremy Scott, Rick Owens — I’m really inspired by their works.”
He is also inspired by musical artists that help him get into what he calls the “vibe,” such as Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes, Larry Graham and The Temptations.
Roole has displayed his work in a variety of shows, including one last semester where he partnered with the UNCG Threads and put on the Pink Power Fashion Show for breast cancer awareness month. Thirty percent of the proceeds from the show went to the Women’s Hospital of Greensboro. During this show, Roole introduced part of his “Retro-Futurism,” collection.
On April 9, he featured more of his pieces at the eleventh Threads fashion show.
“That was a joy. I featured 6 pieces from my collection,” Roole said. “I was really just focusing again on this style that I call ‘Retro-Futurism,’ which is the blend of art and technology. The way I’m doing that in fashion is I’m blending the creative, openness of design as what I interpret as inspiration with modern, contemporary sophistication of what menswear and womenswear looks like. That brings ‘Retro-Futurism.’”
On April 29 at 7 p.m., Roole will be featuring an art installation called “ROOLE AFTER BIRTH” at the UNCG McIver Studio Building. Roole will present his full “Retro-Futurism Spring/Summer 2016” collection at the event.
“The concept behind ‘ROOLE AFTER BIRTH’ is a psychological atmospheric experience of rebirth” Roole explained. “In three series – JUMP (birth of conscience), CRASH (awareness of conscience) and GLOW (potential of conscience), observers will have firsthand experience in the development of their internal journey.”
The show will also feature DJ Pauly Guwop and special guest performers Austin Royale and Brio Ankh.