Jenny Sharaf is a contemporary artist living and working in San Francisco. Her works are inspired by the glitz and glam of Hollywood – where she grew up – and are a celebration of artists from the past, as well as current fashion and art trends.
TGW caught up with Sharaf to chat about art, inspiration and the mythical concept of the creative process.
TGW: Do you remember the time in your life when you decided that you were going to be an artist?
JS: I always wanted to be an artist. My Aunt has a gallery in upstate New York and would take me around to do studio visits with her when I was very young. It made a big impression on me to see accomplished artists with huge studios. People were taking their “playing” very seriously. They made art look professional and like a real option for a career.
TGW: Do you do anything else to earn a living?
JS: I do consulting, curating and event production. Everything is art related. Usually, I have at least four projects or side projects running.
TGW: When are you at your most creative?
JS: I have no idea. I think this question romanticizes the artist process a bit.
“If I tell myself that I only have good ideas at night with certain circumstances, that would be dangerous.”
TGW: Some people believe that being happy can stifle creativity. What’s your experience?
JS: I paint consistently – so that includes the happy and sad times. My mood definitely affects the colour palettes, but you can’t let your emotions get in the way of your work.
TGW: Have you ever made a mistake with your work while people were watching? What did you do?
JS: Of course. Play it off.
TGW: Who/what inspires you to create?
JS: If I didn’t create, I’m not sure what I would do or who I would be. I’m inspired by it all.
“I paint consistently – so that includes the happy and sad times. My mood definitely affects the colour palettes.”
JS: I’m working on a mural on Market Street in San Francisco (between 7th and 8th) next to the Warfield. It should be done by the end of September. I’m also curating and producing a new outdoor art event in San Francisco called Art Night SF.
Our San Francisco correspondent, Kathryn Lefroy, recently caught up with the fine gentlemen at Sui Generis in the Castro.
Since 2006, Sui Generis has provided a designer consignment experience to San Francisco’s discerning style set.
Co-founders and owners, Miguel and Gabriel (a husband & husband team), present an immaculately curated selection of pre-loved, high-end designer pieces.
The Garb Wire spoke with Miguel at his mens store about the Sui Generis brand, and his own personal style.
TGW: How did you come up with the name Sui Generis?
M: We were just sitting down one night and it came to us. Sui Generis means ‘one of a kind’ in Latin, and that’s exactly what our store offers. We rarely have multiples of things. It has happened occasionally that we’ll have, for example, the same shirt in different sizes, but it’s very rare. I think I could count on one hand the amount of times that’s happened.
TGW: How long has your Castro store been open?
M: My husband Gabriel and I started the company in 2006, but we’ve been in this Castro location for six years.
TGW: Has the area changed at all during that time?
M: We’ve definitely noticed a change in the demographics of people who shop here. Initially, because of the area we’re in, our clientele were 100% gay men, but in the last four years there are more straight men shopping here. Straight men like to dress well too! Many of them are shopping with their girlfriends or wives, and they’ll visit the men’s store here and then the women’s store in the Marina.
“every piece has been hand-picked. because we love it.”
TGW: What makes Sui Generis stand out from other retailers?
M: Our store is curated, so instead of hunting through racks and racks of the same thing, you know that every piece has been hand-picked because we love it. We pride ourselves on our quality, merchandising, style and service. Also, consignment stores will give you a real flavor of the city you’re visiting. Our stores give you a real flavor of San Francisco fashion. Whenever I travel I love to get a feel for different places by visiting the local businesses, rather than the chain stores.
TGW: How do you decide which pieces to buy?
M: We buy based on quality, brand and style. When we’re deciding what to buy for menswear we ask ourselves: ‘would we have worn this in our twenties?’ and ‘can we see ourselves wearing this in our 50s, 60s etc.’ For womenswear, it’s ‘could we see our mum, or sister, or friends wearing this?’ Everything has to have a characteristic about it that we love.
“We stock more commercial designer brands like Gucci, Prada, YSL, and Louis Vuitton, but we also have brands like Thom Browne, Junya Watanabe, Hermès, and Brunello Cucinelli.”
TGW: What’s the best thing that’s ever come through the store?
M: An early 90s original Versace gold lamé leather jacket with mink collar. It took a few months to sell, but went to a really nice home. It sold for around two thousand dollars.
TGW: Do you spend way too much money in your own shop?
M: If I see a fabulous piece come in, and if it’s my size, then often I’ll buy it. I probably buy around 3-4 pieces a month. My friends always tell me that I have the largest closet in San Francisco.
TGW: Any famous people recently?
M: Well, Chloe Sevigny stopped by last week and tried on a sweater. She’d been to the women’s store and wanted to come and see our other stores too.
TGW: What is your favorite fashion season?
M: Fall. I like to layer multiple patters. I’m a sucker for a paisley shirt.
TGW: How would you describe your personal style?
M: For daytime, I’d say Americana, but I’d describe my evening style as San Francisco Rock & Roll. Lots of dark colors. Lots of black.
TGW: How do you decide what to wear each day?
M: I check the weather first thing—it’s never correct in San Francisco, but at least you get some idea – and then pick either a shirt or cardigan, and the rest follows. For big events, I go to my collection of dinner jackets, but it’s always last-minute. You never know how you’re going to feel. Confidence is the best accessory, so I choose whatever is going to make me feel confident on that day.
TGW: Style-wise, what are you obsessed with at the moment?
M: New Balance have collaborated with the Mexican designer Ricardo Seco. I’m dying to grab a pair of those shoes.
TGW: Do you have any advice for Australians travelling to San Francisco?
M: If you’re in town, stop by the store because you never know what you’re going to find. We always tell people to come to us first, because we might have exactly what you’re looking for, at a fraction of the price. For example, a Hugo Boss suit will retail for about $700, but we would have one for around $200. A new Brunello suit can be around $5,000 but we might have one for $800-$1200. And the quality would be so good you wouldn’t even notice it’s recycled.
If we don’t have what you’re looking for, then we can still give you some good tips of places to eat, great coffee, and excellent cocktails!
“We’re the friend you’ve got in the city, you don’t yet know.”