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Ghastly Threads with Fallen Design

Fallen Design is the product of many years of exploring the dark and brutal imagery commonly associated with shredding guitars, growling vocals, and disapproving parents. Helmed by the discerning eyes of  Charlie Hill, Fallen has teamed up with Motus to produce a clothing line that harkens back to Sole Destroyer, in a way that elevates the heavy metal theme well beyond skulls and fire. I spoke with the darkened silhouette of Charlie to learn more about Fallen Design, and his contribution to parkour fashion.

Me: How long have you been making media under the banner of Fallen?

Charlie: I think it’s been nearly two-and-a-half years now, I’d like to say. But operating at the level that Fallen is at now, it’s only been about a year-and-a-half. I know that sounds confusing, but the style has changed and Fallen used to be more of a hobby than it is now that I’ve properly dived into it. January of last year is when I properly started to pursue my goals with Fallen. 

Me: What defines properly pursuing it for you?

Charlie: Well, I actually wanted to take it seriously, and not just make bits of well, shit to be honest. I want to make proper garments, I want to start up a clothing line, I want to do more professional media and graphics. Before, it was just fun experimenting. Now I want to make things refined and more personal.

Me: What spurred that pursuit? 

Charlie: This was around the time that the UK went into its second lockdown. I had been doing a graphic design course at my college, and I was really starting to get into that. I was doing fine arts as well but was really enjoying graphics a lot more. I started practicing graphic design in my free time and I thought to myself, “I can really make something out of this.” So, I decided to push it more and more. It was something that filled that time and I enjoyed it enough to keep going. 

Me: When did you start experimenting with graphic and clothing design and which do you prefer?

Charlie: Ooh… That’s a hard one. It depends on two separate things. I really enjoy doing both, but with Fallen I’m selling the graphic side of things, and it’s all clothing based. So in terms of doing things under the Fallen branding, I would definitely have to say clothing. In terms of going out and doing graphics and designing things for other people, I still enjoy it equally, they’re just two very different things. For instance, I really love doing poster designs and things like that. 

Me: Where do you find inspiration for your designs? 

Charlie: Mostly I find inspiration in my music tastes. I like heavy metal. I grew up loving the imagery that comes across in heavy metal, the dark themes, the skulls and death, that’s what I’m drawn to. When I scroll the internet, I’ll look at band t-shirts sometimes and think, “That’s a cool concept, what would my interpretation of that concept look like?” That’s mostly where it comes from. I have a belief that your music tastes will help define your tastes in other subjects as well. It doesn’t make much sense I guess, but to me it comes down to your sensibilities. If you’re a fan of classical music, you’re more likely interested in very refined, clean looking designs. If you like metal, it’s potentially the polar opposite. It’s gritty, loud, and I think it makes a statement.  

Me: How long have you been working on the Motus Collaboration?

Charlie: A couple of months now, I think I started at the end of August. Giles might crucify me for not knowing, but I’m pretty sure it’s only been a few months. Giles reached out to me, sent me a whole contract about payment and things, and I’ve been a fan of Motus since I was like 14 years old, so it was an instant yes. It was a deal made in about 10 seconds hahaha. 

Me: Were you given total creative control over the designs?

Charlie: In a sense. I would create the design, and Giles would approve or disapprove, or offer tweaks to the designs. I had control over the concept, and main design elements. Some things got approved, some things didn’t, but I was definitely in the driver’s seat. 

Me: What is your favorite design from the release, and why?

Charlie: Yeah… There’s this design of two skulls opposing each other, with like interjoining spines, 100% that’s my favorite one. The graphics build and build. I never start a project with a concrete image of what I want. I always build as I go along. To set the scene, while I’m doing this, I have heavy-ass music blasting through my headphones. I initially started with just two skulls facing away from each other, and I thought, “What can I add to this?” I started playing with kind of a snaking pattern going up the design. Giles had mentioned that he liked my grittier work, and not to feel contained by the cleaner designs Motus has been releasing recently. I was thinking, “Right, what’s a gritty addition to this design?” I wanted to make a statement and really show that this design was different. So I thought about expanding the piece physically in size, and it just kept adding more and more. 

Me: Art is never finished to the artist, is it?

Charlie: That’s the problem hahaha. You look at your project and just keep adding things until it’s unrecognizable sometimes, and it’s important to know when to stop. I wasn’t always good at that, but I’ve learned to be better. I had such a huge problem with being finished with a piece when I was younger; like I would ruin paintings because I couldn’t step away and call it done, just continuously adding to it. I remember doing a self-portrait and trying to just add minimal little skulls and things. I had a five-hour time limit, and I was technically finished like two-and-a-half hours in. Then I got the idea to make the whole thing look like a skeleton, and it looked like shit. I should have stopped while I was ahead. 

Me: Is clothing design your main source of income?

Charlie: No, working with Motus is technically my first proper graphics job. I’ve been approached previously by people, and I give them a price which I think is true to the time and effort I put into the project, and they respond like, “What?! I was gonna pay you a tenner!” and it’s like, “No mate, that’s not how that works.” If I could do what I’m doing now for my career, that would be the dream. I really love creating media, it’s always been my favorite thing to do. I knew at a young age that I wanted to have a job based in art, and it would make me extremely happy if I could do that full time. 

Me: What other artistic mediums do you enjoy outside of graphic design?

Charlie: I started getting into oil painting near the end of my art course in college. I find, in school, especially art class, you’re taught the very basics of how to create something and then you have to find your own style within that. It’s incredibly difficult to do, because you’re always taught someone else’s style. I decided one day to stop listening to my teacher and just do what I wanted, and it’s the best decision I ever made. I put down my little brush and canvas, got a big A1 size canvas, a pallet knife, and a human skull in front of me, and created something I wanted to make. That’s how I finished the last nine months of my course, and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t a still life, it wasn’t a self portrait, landscape, or anything like that. It was just what I wanted to create with the tools that I had. I never looked back.

Me: Parkour fashion has come a long way since baggy sweatpants, we’ve now entered the realm of baggy cargo pants. But in all seriousness, we have comps giving awards for flyest fit. What do you think is the role of fashion in parkour, and how has it evolved?

Charlie: We have indeed entered the realm of cargo pants. For the people in parkour, fashion is an incredibly important thing. Parkour is an aesthetic sport, it’s important to look good while you’re moving. Someone wearing something that doesn’t look or feel good, like spray-on-jeans and chunky shoes, is not going to look as good performing as someone wearing baggier, more flowing clothes. The clothing you wear adds elements to your movements. It’s also a case of building communities as well. You feel like you’re in some kind of underground club when you see someone in Motus gear or the like, you instantly recognize them and know “Ah, we’re alike, I can approach this person and have a conversation.” It’s being able to connect with someone without even knowing them, because you can tell when someone is in the same niche community as you. It’s fucking sick, and it creates this loving community where people support each other despite not knowing one another. 

Me: My final question, and one you don’t need to answer, is what the fuck happened to your hand bro?

Charlie: Hahaha this story! I was wondering if this would come up. I had to have my left middle finger amputated. What happened to me was something called a “ring avulsion.” Basically, when you wear a ring, and it gets caught on something, if you pull too quickly it will deglove your whole finger. 

Me: Oh fuck!

Charlie: Yeah exactly haha. I had to get to a mock exam thing when I was 17. My friend and I were walking to the school, and the administration had locked the back gate that we usually took to get onto the grounds. So I thought to myself, “I’ll just climb it, no problem.” It was a chain link fence, so it had those barbs of cut metal at the top, and I had climbed up, when someone came to the gate and said they’d open it for us. I go to drop down, and hadn’t noticed that my ring had been caught by one of those barbs. I felt something happen, but didn’t realize at first. I thought I’d scraped my finger or something. I got down, and looked at my finger and I could see bone, and the rest of my finger from the first knuckle up was just hanging there. I went into a massive panic attack, and thankfully my mate was there to call 999 for me. At one point, he hands me the phone, and they ask me if my finger is still attached. I’m like, “I don’t know, I don’t want to look at it!” It was attached, but not by much. The dispatcher ultimately decided not to send an ambulance. My finger has fallen off, and they aren’t going to send an ambulance, just brilliant. So my friend alerted the school nurse, and the nurse came out and saw me with my finger hanging off. They had to call my parents, who took me to  hospital where I was given a ton of painkillers, and then transferred to another hospital. The doctors told me that they could try and stitch it back together, but because it was degloved and not a clean cut, all of my veins and ligaments were stretched out and torn. It was either a long surgery, with a 10% chance of success, or they could amputate it and send me home in an hour. By that point I’d been in hospital for almost ten hours, and just wanted to go home. The whole hospital had heard about my injury by the time I got into surgery (so much for confidentiality), but they said since I was the “special patient” I could choose the music they put on for the surgery. I was just like, “Well you’ve messed up here, haven’t you?” I started talking about heavy metal, and listing off a bunch of bands, and then I got to the name Iron Maiden. One of the nurses was like, “Oh my husband likes them, let’s put that on!” So, Iron Maiden was blaring in the operation theater while I got my finger amputated. It was a unique experience. They bandaged it terribly, so my hand was cupped, and then bandaged so thick it felt like my hand was a plate with fingers on the end. I couldn’t use my fingers properly, which made the injury seem much worse. That was nearly a year ago now. You’d think it would be harder to grip things, but I’ve done loads of manual labor jobs since, and I've felt no difference whatsoever. The main thing is that it looks ridiculous. I’ve got mates who are like, “That’s sick as fuck!” and I’m like, “Yeah, but I’d rather have ten fingers than nine-and-a-third.”

Me: How are climb-ups and arm jumps now? 

Charlie: Honestly, I completely forget it’s gone. I’ve done jobs for people where they don’t notice at all. I’ve gone weeks working with people and they don’t seem to see it. You’d think I’d have more trouble climbing without that finger, but I think all my other fingers are that much stronger now. Obviously, this hand is weaker, but it hasn’t been a problem. When I notice is when I’m trying to get loose change out of my pocket, and it slips through the gap where my middle finger would be. Sometimes I hold a fistful of change, turn my palm down, and coins fall out like magic. 

Charlie has done an incredible job with the designs in this collaboration. He has delivered a beautiful, grave series of graphics that are oh-so-fitting for the metalheads at Motus. This clothing line is a welcome return to form for The Motus Projects, and the grimy gutter-kin who relish in Sole Destroyer’s blood-on-the-sidewalk style of parkour will no doubt be pleased. It’s apropos that these pieces should be released in time for Halloween. This Friday, October 28th at 6:00pm, this release drops, and your Hallow’s Eve won’t be complete without one of these tastefully dour garments.