Q&A with Karys Rhiann of the Something Fine Project
Tell us about the project.
It’s called The Something Fine Project. It features testimonials of first love from writers, photographers, illustrators, designers, bloggers, musicians and other creative people from all around the world. The contributions include everything from old photographs and love letters, to family trees, collages and drawings. I update the website nearly every day and am constantly receiving new submissions.
What inspired you to start the project?
My own first love! It was such a rollercoaster ride, and I always wondered if other people had similar experiences. My first relationship made me completely love struck, delirious and heartbroken. But I was sure I couldn’t have been the only one that was hit so hard. And this curiosity grew and grew until I decided to start emailing people out of the blue to see if they had these feelings, and moreover, if they could express them in a creative way. For a while I thought people might think I was a bit nuts, but I think others are just as nosy as me and willing to submit their stories as well as read pages and pages of other submissions. I’ve found it to be such a universal theme, and I think it has the ability to connect people through a shared, but always unique experience. It wasn’t really intended this way (perhaps subconsciously) but the project has been quite therapeutic after the traumas of my own first love, and I hope other people feel the same way too. It’s nice to know we’ve all been through it to some extent.
The title of the project is inspired by a lyric from a Bob Dylan song that my first love played to me once on the bus during a school trip; oh but I just thought you might want something fine.
Tell us about your first love
It’s funny isn’t it, that I spend all this time asking people about their first loves but am always a bit reluctant to talk about my own! It’s a very personal thing and I admire each of my contributors who are brave enough to share their stories. My first love was rocky and heart wrenching but it was also the most beautiful experience of my life. I feel like I went through every possible emotion, and it really did shape who I am today in many ways. And despite all these ups and downs, I’m back with my first love after some time apart. He helped me design the layout of my website and has been very lovely and supportive of the project.
What sort of contributions have you had so far?
A very big variety! A lot of old photographs, poems and anecdotes from present and past loves but also some really unique ones… I’ve got a recipe for spaghetti carbonara that was made for a first love, an embroidery made in memory of a deceased love, a locket with a quote about love and a sugar packet that was kept as a souvenir from a first date.
One of the things that I have found most surprising about the contributions so far, is that there are so many that aren’t actually about first relationships or conventional “first loves”… I’ve received many submissions by people who profess their love for anything from their pet pug, Edvard Munch, their prom dress, the seaside, James Dean, their mum… First loves don’t necessarily have to be girlfriends or boyfriends; the theme really can be interpreted in different ways.
What is your favourite?
It’s so hard to say! I’ve received hundreds of contributions since I started the project in March this year. If I had to choose one that really touched me on a personal level, it’d be from photographer Dominique Franks. She had contributed something very dark quite early on in the project but soon after, her contribution gave her the much needed strength to leave her toxic relationship to start a new life in a new city. It was only then that she fell in love truly for the first time, and she kindly emailed to let me know her story. I posted this email because it was heartbreaking and moving, and it showed me properly for the first time that my project was actually having an impact on other people’s lives!
Some other highlights include an illustration from Academy Award winner Shaun Tan, a scarily surreal tale of true love by artist Stuart Alexander , a film about the science of love from filmmaker Brent Hoff and a very sweet and funny essay called Love in the Time of Braces by writer Chelsea Fagan. But this is just a tiny selection of my favourites, and I really could go on and on about all the different contributions I love.
Where do you see it going?
At the moment it’s just an online project, but I’d love to see it turned into a book or exhibition, or both. Watch this space!
Visit the first love project at www.thesomethingfineproject.com If you’d like to contribute please contact Karys at firstname.lastname@example.org