Petra Gabas is a Designer living in Prague. We spoke with her in a cafe in her home city about Art School and how intuition guides her creative process. Petra took the above photos on a short vacation that she took in between her practical and theoretical exams in her last semester of graduate school. The garden that is pictured is a place where she often meditates.
Emma (Springtide): This is such a cool place. I would have never found it!
Petra: Great! I’m glad! You know, I was thinking of what would be interesting for you so I’m glad you like it. For morning it’s really chill. It’s really nice and yeah… it’s quite special in this area. There’s nothing similar around, really.
Emma: So, are you from here (Prague) originally?
Petra: No… I’m from close to Brno, actually …My family is. It’s a town in the Czech Republic called Prostejov.
So, I was born in Prostejov and then I was studying High School in Brno, actually. Brno is another quite important city.
I moved here when I started studying at Academy, which I finished last week!
Petra: I’m really glad because it was too long. I was doing my Bachelor’s and then Masters and then I was in New York for an internship… (I’ve been doing my Masters for 4 years).
Emma: What did you get your Masters in?
Petra: Like the field? Ah, it’s Fashion …. Clothing and Accessory Design.
Emma: Is that what you studied as an Undergraduate student as well?
Petra: The bachelors… yes. It was exactly the same. Actually, I was studying in art school for high school as well but it was focused for I’d say clothing, but more about sketching and painting. It’s kind of “Art School”. Like, we were close to the other fields a lot … sculptors and furniture designers so it was nice. It was basically the same here at Academy.
It was nice but now I’m like, “Woohoo! Reality!’. I’m taking a vacation because I really need to find out where to go or what to do exactly.
Emma: That is great. There must be a lot of pressure built up after being in school for so long!
...So when you were in New York, it was for an internship?
Petra: Yes, I was there for like 5 months. It was with Creatures of the Wind. It was very nice. I really enjoyed it. I really love New York. It was the first city where I felt really like just good, you know? Kind of like home but just very different. I don’t know ... maybe it's that it's so open and free. It’s a really nice feeling. I would go there immediately but I kind of can’t right now.
…you are from New York?
Emma: Yeah, I am. I grew up in the Hudson Valley.. just a little outside of the city.
Petra: And you are studying something….?
Emma: I went to art school also, actually. I went to Parsons and I graduated last year. I studied Fine Arts. Alyssa and I grew up together and she went to FIT. So we came up with this idea like a year ago and it has kind of slowly blossomed.
Petra: I absolutely understand. Really like, for me, one year is so fast… We were in touch really like…
Emma: a year ago! It’s crazy.
Petra: It seems to me like it was, I don’t know ... yesterday.
Emma: That’s why it is so great to be able to meet you. You were one of the first people who even showed interest in what we were doing.
Petra: It was really like just, just a good feeling. I have these (feelings) and I kind of, decide like this for most of the things. Like, I just felt it. It mostly works.
Emma: Is that kind of intuition is something that you implement a lot in designing?
Petra: Yes, definitely. I think I work by intuition…kind of. Of course, there are some precise parts of the process which you kind of have to approach more planned out. But I have to use it. Its my … I hope I can say it’s my power. When I cannot feel anything or work with intuition there’s something wrong.
Emma: Did you ever find that difficult, being in art school, because you have to explain your decision making so clearly?
Petra: Yes, in some way. In the last year it became more difficult. Because at the beginning everything was new so I learned a lot but now I have experience from reality and I wanted to create my own rules to use them in reality because, you know, you have to... otherwise you leave school and you are really lost. But yes, it's difficult to use it in school ... so yeah, the last years were a little bit not so helpful, maybe.
Emma: I found the same thing. I feel like I'm kind of an intuitive person as well so in school, when it came time to explain the decisions I made, I found it hard because it was such an emotional decision making process rather than being something that is more calculated. But it's actually an exciting process to think back on something you've made and try to understand where certain impulses or intuitive acts stem from.
Petra: Yes, I love it but sometimes its really difficult to explain something because you realize it sometime later, you know? You see what you have done and you kind of go ... "Ah, yes!". Emotions and these human things are for me, the most important. I'm seeking some kind of a truth, maybe, in things. You kind of cannot count everything ... but, some people are really really different so it is difficult to explain to them, "I really don't know now". I find that in Fashion there really is some purpose to doing it like this (intuitively), because, you really just don't know in the time you are making it... and you don't have to know really.