A very skilled Unskilled Worker
You’ve probably scrolled passed the work of Helen Downie when browsing through Instagram. Or you may recognize her paintings of expressive oversized eyes from Gucci’s capsule collection of bags, dresses, jackets. Or perhaps you’ve seen them as murals on the streets of New York City. You may be surprised to learn that Downie, known as “Unskiller Worker”, is a 52 year old mother in London. She only recently began painting and has no former technical expertise! I, for one, was certainly surprised to learn this! Goes to show you that life can take you for an unexpected ride at any time. I find her work truly visionary, totally unique and very mesmerizing.
When she began putting her work on Instagram, her followers somehow immediately grew. Her dreamy expressionistic paintings are inspired by children’s innocence. Her paintings can be transportive, bringing viewers back to that state of child-like wonder.
Downie took to the runway for inspiration, painting amplified images from fashion shows. She was featured on a website and her image from the Gucci AW15 Menswear show caught the industry’s eye. This painting was purchased and presented to the current Creative Director Alessandro Michele. Downie was then invited to attend the Gucci show that following February. When Gucci collaborated in an exhibit at Shanghai’s Minsheng Art Musuem, Downie’s work was included in the show.
Downie and Michele collaborated on a capsule collection this October, still available today, that included 40 pieces with Unskilled Worker’s notable imagery splashed across clothing and accessories. Some of the characters featured on the scarves, jackets, dresses, and scarves are inspired by models in the show saying, “I watch the shows and then I paint my idea. Continuing the fantasy, really. Bringing Alessandro’s ideas into my world.”