June 16, 2015—Chris Rellas (C’17) has an eye for mixing fashion and high art—one that’s garnered 20,000 Instagram followers for his project, CopyLab, as well as press from Vogue, GQ, The Independent, and Garage Magazine. CopyLab features famous pieces of art that are playfully edited with touches of modern fashion, such as designer shoes, bags, or logos. A French and art history major, Rellas created CopyLab while working as an editorial intern at Nasty Gal, an online vintage clothing retailor. We sat down with Rellas to learn about CopyLab and his favorite sources of inspiration.
Georgetown College: How did CopyLab get started and what did you want the project to be?
Chris Rellas: I started CopyLab in summer 2014 while I was interning at Nasty Gal. My boss had me printing out all these iconic denim ads and I was simultaneously scrolling through one of my favorite art blogs when it hit me that the two really should go together. I made my first image in the office that day and went home that night and made five or six more!
GC: What’s been your favorite CopyLab image and why?
CR: Recently, I did a collaboration with Garage Magazine on some images. For one of them, I used Poussin’s "Acis and Galatea," but had all the women in the painting carrying feminist signs and handbags that I pulled from the Chanel Spring/Summer 2015 show. It took a while to do, but I was really happy at the end because I felt like it actually meant something.
GC: What was it like interning at Nasty Gal?
CR: Most of my friends intern at places on Wall St., so working at Nasty Gal was definitely out of the norm, but I really loved it. Everyone there moves so fast, so there was always something new and exciting to work on.
GC: What artists, movements, or projects inspire you the most?
CR: In terms of visuals, I really love French Impressionism and Modern Art. If I end up working in the industry, I would ideally want to work in that vein. But I’m also really interested in community art projects. The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt is one of the most inspiring pieces to see in person.
GC: What’s your favorite art space in DC?
CR: The Phillips Collection is hands down my favorite!
GC: Who’s your favorite unknown designer that people should really know about? Your favorite working artist that people should really know about?
CR: My friend Aza Ziegler is a really amazing designer. She’s based in Brooklyn, but her clothes are inspired by California surf and skate culture. She’s just starting out and already getting great press! As far as favorite artist, I think Brianna McCarthy (@macabrii on Instagram) makes some beautiful pieces.
GC: What do you want people to know about the art community at Georgetown?
CR: The art community is definitely alive and well at Georgetown, even if it’s a little hard to find. Most of my art-inclined friends here aren’t art history or performing arts majors. A majority of them are in the MSB or SFS, but have these amazing creative talents that they also love to express. Never dismiss someone’s creativity based on what they study or who they intern for!