Reflekt Muse: Delphine Bedient
Art historian, librarian, writer, and founder of Sincerely Analog
Delphine Bedient is a writer and maker currently based in Portland, Oregon, USA. She curates for the IPRC's Zine of the Month Club, makes jewelry, and works at the public library. A book of her short fiction, Down and Out on a Yacht, was recently published by Two Plum Press. She likes the color brown, writing in cursive and taking walks at night. Write her here and see what inspires her here.
Interview from Issue º10 PROPER
Where were you born and when did you move to Portland?
I was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. It's a small city, in the eastern part of the state. I moved to Portland eight years ago. I had just graduated from high school and the only thing I knew was that I wanted to go to college somewhere out of state. I paged through all of those thick books of colleges and somehow landed upon Lewis & Clark College. I applied, was accepted and ended up moving here to attend.
What did you major?
I majored in studio art. I had my heart pretty much set on that from the beginning, and though I ended up switching colleges after a while, I am still stuck with the same major.
Describe your family, siblings, Mom, Dad?
I grew up with my mother and father. Technically I am an only child. My father was married once before so I have a half-brother and half-sister. They are a fair amount older than me, however. We never lived in the same house together.
What was your childhood like?
I would consider it pleasant, calm. Being an only child, I had lots of time to think without interruptions. My parents were very supportive of me and my endeavors, however ridiculous they were. Because of my father's profession at the time, we had many opportunities to travel, both within the United States, and also abroad. I was a bit of a loner as a child. I did not make friends easily and tended to strike off on my own instead. I would sometimes spend recess sitting at the top of the jungle gym because I enjoyed the view.
What did your father do, and what were some of these ridiculous endeavors?
He started his own business building pipe organs. They are musical instruments that are very labor intensive to produce and tend usually to be so massive and complicated that they require the organ builder to travel to the location they are purchased for to install them. As far as ridiculous endeavors, I recall starting a cleaning business, using my dolls as employees while still doing all of the cleaning myself. My parents "hired" me. The dolls all had uniforms and name tags. I also created a nativity scene composed entirely of beanie babies.
How would you describe your style?
My style seems to be constantly changing in small ways, but it is always influenced a bit by my art education. I find as the time passes I am interested less in specific trends or styles and more in the general categories of color and shape. Contrast is very important. You can't really think about wearing a piece of clothing until you think about what you'll be wearing it with. I tend to mix new and old pieces, though I find most things used. I am inspired by the color schemes of Jean-Luc Godard's films and the paintings of Mark Rothko.
What or who were your early style influences?
I think it all began with me poring over fashion magazines. As a child I had been my mother's "fashion consultant." She would take me shopping and ask for my opinions. In high school I became obsessed with the film Amelie, its overall color scheme and the main character's fashion choices. During my senior year of high school I attended an arts focus program. It was an intensely creative environment and I met many people there who played a significant part in my later takes on fashion. I coordinated a school fashion show at the focus program, which was great fun.
Is there anyone in particular that really helped shaped your sartorial aesthetic? Other than Amelie!
My three main and best friends during that period in my senior year would be good candidates. They always looked amazing and seemed to share one communal closet that was in constant circulation between their three homes.
You never shared too?
I was always a bit on the outskirts. I was still a bit tentative about my style back then. Once I borrowed this crazy sweater jacket thing from them. It was brown and knitted, but then it had fake fur all over the front. I was thrilled to have it, but didn't quite know what to do with it.
When was the moment you felt you achieved "your" style?
As much as I wish there was one "moment" I think it has been more of a slow evolution. Every day/month/year I have gotten slightly better, slightly closer to what I'm trying to achieve. It also takes a while to figure out what you're trying to do. Sometimes you just don't know. I remember a few summers back I had suddenly gotten tired of most of the things in my wardrobe at the time. I ended up at goodwill looking at floor length dresses from the 90s, wondering what it was that I was trying to get at. The sundresses weren't it, but somehow they helped me get there. I hope my style continues to evolve and change. One thing that I think has helped with stagnant wardrobe problems is clothing swaps. They are so fun, free, and they are a low-risk way to try out new things, things you might be scared to actually purchase in a store
How do people react to how you dress?
People tend to be very complimentary. Some of my co-workers have commented that they are always excited to see what I'll be wearing that day, like I am performing some sort of quotidian solo fashion show. Sometimes strangers stare, and it reminds me that I do make less normal wardrobe choices, but most of the time the attention is positive, and I feel good about sticking out, about being distinctive and memorable.
What is it about fashion that draws you in?
I think it is one of the easier ways for me to express myself. It makes one more noticeable. Another contributing factor could be my life-long bend towards the visual arts. It is easy for me to express myself visually. I really do consider my body to be a canvas. It's fun to play, to experiment.
What type of hobbies do you have?
I produce small conceptually-oriented books under the imprint Sincerely Analog. I also write fiction. Other than that, I love to read, listen to music and take photographs.
What are your goals for the future?
Right now I'm really trying to focus on producing lots of writing to submit, so I can get my workout into the world. I have the idea at some point to open my own bar, and also, at some point, to live in New York City.
What are your last words, life advice?
I would say that it is very important to be aware of yourself: where you're at in life, how you feel about that, where you want to go, and to be very honest with yourself about all of these things. It's the only way to truly know yourself. By asking these questions you are testing and discovering your personal boundaries. Never stop growing, never stop learning, never assume you know everything.