HELEN DO ( Dovzhenko Olena ) is a Ukrainian designer based in Poland and a digital fashion creator + 3D artist. After many years of experience as a graphic designer in the field of branding and packaging, now she is creating virtual clothing and outfits for the metaverse, making some art and doing visualization of the product.
The artist’s drop with DRESSX features 3 jewelry collections. The most important inspiration for meanings is experiences and reflections — the designer and the people around them. The creator tries to emphasize and capture the feelings around her. The inspiration for the form is taken from nature, history, and culture.
Tell us a little bit about yourself as a fashion designer, and when was your first approach with fashion?
Hi. My name is Helen. I'm a digital artist, digital fashion creator and virtual jewelry designer. I can't say for sure when I first encountered fashion as such, but I've been creating clothes since birth. Furthermore, I've always loved clothes, jewelry, but more the process of making them than directly wearing them. For a long time, I worked by trade as a graphic designer, and creating jewelry and clothing was my hobby. Then I burned out completely, but digital fashion gave me a second wind and opportunities to go beyond the laws of reality. That's how my journey in the digital world began.
Everyone, somewhere or another, has been influenced by their childhood. Could you please walk us through your own progressing years? How was growing up for you? Was it certain for you what you were going to do growing up?
My childhood was a lot of turning points in society. Total instability, uncertainty, and nullification of everything. I grew up parallel in the city with its comforts and needs and in the countryside close to the land and nature. This gave me an advantage in understanding things and their value, as well as recycling and sustainability. In my childhood, it was difficult to buy clothes, and beautiful clothes even more so. So almost all the clothes in my family were sewn and everyone knew how to sew – my grandmothers, my dad, my mom. Since childhood, we have also sewed, embroidered, knit, and dressed his dolls :). Later, when buying clothes became an affordable option – we still continued to sew and alter, but more because we had our views on the convenience and beauty of things. All of this instilled in me a love of things, not just on the practical or aesthetic side. But also as something personified and individual, something that is an extension of who you are as a person. For me, it's a pleasure to look at and touch the fabric, to enjoy the texture and feel the mood it conveys. That's why fashion for me is about integrating clothes into the personality, about the synergy of the outside and the inside, about making a statement. Making clothes was such a natural state for me, that only in adulthood did I think about the fact that it could also be a profession. But I always knew that I would belong to art – As soon as I went to art school at the age of 12. But eventually, the two paths have now merged into one, which I'm delighted about.
When was your first approach with digital fashion, and why did you decide to explore it? What are the softwares you use to create digital garments?
I was introduced to digital fashion a couple of years ago. Before that, I had studied 3D and was preparing to move into the field of digital art from advertising and graphic design. The idea of making clothes online without having to buy fabric, rent a workshop, or anything else really excited me. Subsequently, I quit my job and used all my cash to pay for a sewing class in 3D. It was something! I used my knowledge of CLO3D and my knowledge of 3D packages like Cinema4D, Substance Painter, and Zbrush to start making my own artwork, mostly about fashion and jewelry. I was so absorbed by the idea of being able to indistinguishably connect the real and virtual worlds that I worked for a year as a digital tailor at DRESSX enjoying this synergy.
How did you decide to be part of Web3.0? Introduce us to your artworks for it and how the process design was elaborated?
I can't say that I took it and decided. It just happened on its own. The values and ideas themselves turned out to be such that essentially I was just creating work, and it overlapped with Web3.0 ideas. The main emphases in my work are exploring human experience, emotion, and memory and how they affect personal development. I explore the line between beauty and ugliness and try to question the extent to which formed canons are conscious. To achieve this, I use trigger themes and materials in my work. I created bio-punk jewelry where I challenge the notion that jewelry is just about classic beauty and try to show how common ugliness can be beautiful and denote the value of experience. I also create 3d-motion abstract art and projects where clothes are a means to express an idea. It turns out something like theater, where the image is part of the production, and every element in it carries meaning. And I attempt to show that clothing is not only a covering for the body, but also a voice for the personality.
The process of creating a work is always different, but there is one thing that unites all the processes. Firstly, I have to feel the trigger in myself or in the people around me. Then I analyze the reaction – how deep it is. Then I create in my mind an idea and a way to implement that idea. Last, but not least, is the long process of creating something. Sketching and finding a composition, transferring to 3D, polishing the image and details, creating the atmosphere…
I'm also very actively involved in the development of our local community as part of the digital school Pushka-School opportunities. We are creating all sorts of educational content designed to raise people's awareness of web 3.0 and crypto fashion as such, mitigate the transition to digital, and help create working digital versions of products.
Your work encourages innovation and makes the knick-picking style a trend of its own. I wonder what kind of challenges you would have gone through when it came to approaching digital art as well?
I have numerous challenges related to the complexity of my style. One of them, and not yet solved, is integrating my work into meta universes. For example, virtual jewelry is very detailed, and it is technically quite difficult to preserve all the nuances and textures when transferring it to some digital space and make it wearable. But these are all just temporary obstacles :). Everything is solvable, you just have to dig deeper. That said, I don't think these limitations should affect the quality of the product as a whole. I like meticulous work, I like elegance and love of detail, plus they all make sense – that's why I make “jewel-like” pieces of art.
How is your brand philosophy manifested and interpreted in the garments themselves?
For me, clothes are foremost an extension of individuality. I have a large closet. The process of choosing clothes for me is a performance. Every day it is new. Each thing is an accentuation of some emotion or thought. Maybe you can't see it, but for me, it is. But with all that, I'm not a follower of fast fashion. Some of my pieces are over 20 years old. There are things I re-stitched from my grandmother's closet and things I found at a flea market. Most importantly, clothes are Self-expression, not just a function to hide the body. In the physical world, convenience and comfort play a big role and are often a priority. This is not the case in the digital world. If I feel like a penguin today, I can be one. At the same time, it will not harm my reputation, comfort and will not expose me to stereotypical attacks from society or pollute the river, affecting the ecology. And digital clothes can definitely be inherited in the same pristine form, :) it's fun :).
How do you face challenges in such a complex industry, and how do you approach potential customers/stores? Are you stocked in some retail stores? Where?
Now the most immense challenge is where and how to wear virtual clothes. For now, it's still a story about interesting new experiences and gamification. The audience that can buy these clothes is not all included in this process. The audience that is already fully involved in the digital environment – not all of them can invest in this area financially yet. Now there is a turning point – the puzzle is still being put together, and this is wonderful! We have the opportunity to influence the final picture :). Presently, to implement my skills, I can offer plenty of solutions for clients from the physical world, too. It's promotional visualizations for their brands, it's testing new collections without production costs, as well as creating digital look-alikes of their items. As for my clothes and jewelry — you can buy them on several digital marketplaces – for now it's DRESSX and XrCouture. I'm also working on a few more launches with more advanced usage functionality, and hopefully, they will be implemented soon.
You’re both the creative and the business head of your company. How do you balance your time between the two?
Luckily, I am not the head of the company. Fortunately, my area of responsibility is limited and this gives me the opportunity to develop as an artist and as a brand, although not as intensively as I would like. However, when it comes to having a say in shaping the collective development of the area, personal identity and self-esteem are not so necessary. I like healthy competition. I like to admire and be inspired by the work of others. So, I try to influence the growth of cool professionals because I also want to develop and get better.
How do you see your brand growing and evolving in the future?
Firstly, I hope to be not alone in my views :). I would like very much to find a community which would share my views on aesthetics and meanings. Furthermore, I also plan to find variants of integration into meta universes and make my jewelry available for purchase and wear in immersive spaces. Next up is the launch of a phygital collection. I do love tactile things, but I want people to buy them to share my vision and idea, not just as a tribute to a trend. So, I invest as much as possible in declaring the meaning behind this or that piece.
A letter to your future self. What would you write?
This is a very difficult question :). I'm aware that I can reach out to my past self, but what can I say to my future self? :)) I would like to ask not to deviate from the course and not to sputter, and balancing between altruism and creativity, not to fall completely into altruism. It's easy to get lost, but if you really want to change something, you have to cultivate yourself. You have to give fruit, not stems and roots. Then it tastes different and makes more sense :).