Illustrator Craig Redman Talks Fashion, Collaborations and His Buddy Darcel

In 2010 illustrator Craig Redman charmed the fashion world with the introduction of his comic strip blog creation Dour Darcel. A Humpty Dumpty-shaped cyclops in his signature tortoiseshell monocle, Darcel hits the party scene affecting all the irony and world weariness of the most cynical hipster. But the pop and verve of Redman’s creation can’t help but belie a glee in the endeavor. That glee has proved infectious and made Darcel a kind of star—covering magazines and headlining ad campaigns—within the community he loves to lampoon. The Australian-born, New York-based Redman too has capitalized on the success, creating a series of basketball star portraits for Nike, exhibiting at the Louvre, and designing for Vogue and The New York Times. We caught up with the artist as he opens his exhibition Since Never, at The Garage in Amsterdam, to talk about his famous creation, favored frames, and the future.

Darcel’s all grown up, all blown up—doing spots for Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, and Mercedes, among others. What it's like to watch a creation become so well known, beloved even, by the very subjects of Darcel's dreams?

Any success Darcel has had can be traced back to Sarah at Colette; she discovered the blog right at the beginning and has been an awesome supporter ever since. We've done everything from skateboards and lighters, to exhibitions and fashion week events, and consequently the relationship has lead to lots of other fun projects too.

In a way, you and Darcel have made eyewear iconic and recognizable again in a totally new way. People's specs in Darcel's world are such a huge part of their identity. Am I reading too much into it, or can you really tell a lot about someone by the glasses they wear?

Absolutely, in the same way you can tell everything about a person by their shoes, ha. I actually can't remember why I gave Darcel glasses in the beginning, I guess a dreary cyclops egg needed an accessory? 

What could we deduce about you from the glasses you wear?

I wish I could give you an interesting answer but I always stick with the classics. I don't want to stand out, so anything that reads as a 'uniform' is good with me. I guess Darcel's blog is a bit showy but in real life I like to slide by in the shadows.

The minimalism of Darcel was a correction, as I understand it, to the complex illustrating you were doing prior. That sort of clean, elegant style has remained current in your work, and in the work you've done with Karl Maier. There is something to be said about finding one's signature style—it always feels so simple. 

I guess when I started drawing Darcel I realized the previous stuff I was doing wasn't very me; it was just the way I thought I was supposed to be drawing. Darcel made me realize you can tell a whole story with much simpler elements, it's more direct and also more complicated to pull off at the same time, which is a good challenge. I also like the juxtaposition between the visual side of Darcel, which is rather basic and colorful, and actual content of the blog posts, which are usually mundane and sometimes explore less-than-uplifting thoughts.

The portraiture you guys have been doing, of pop artists, pop stars and basketball players are incredible. Growing up in Australia, were you been a fan of basketball? 

I'm not obsessive, but I definitely went deep during that project. Having Carmelo Anthony be so enthusiastic about his portrait was so neat, especially because of the New York connection. It was cool drawing other players too, I think the portrait of Blake Griffin is my favorite.

Where do you go from here?

I have an exhibition of paintings coming up in Amsterdam; it's an extension of the portrait series, but this time focusing on unknowns rather than famous faces. It's a little more personal and kind of acts as a snapshot of people in my life over the last year. Karl and I have a load of projects on the go too, but mostly we have our eye on our first museum show in Seoul in 2015, it'll be neat to see all our work together in one place.

- Interview by Christopher Wallace

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