Frederick Weston appears to have been an artist who stayed vigilant his whole life.
He died on Oct. 21 at the age of 73 in his Chelsea apartment:
As he survived day-to-day in New York, Mr. Weston created his art privately.
He worked on his bed, trimming clippings from magazines, fabrics and Polaroid photos to use in his collages. Almost daily he visited Kinko’s to photocopy money, body parts, sunglasses and practically anything else he could slide under the machine’s lid. His rooms were heaped with his ephemera, but he was as organized as an archivist, labeling boxes and files with descriptions like “Taxi,” “Clubland,” “Bears” and “Hobo.”
“A true artist can be creative with whatever is available,” Mr. Weston said in 2008 in an interview with Visual AIDS, an organization that promotes the work of artists living with the disease. “If I am not creating art, I am not living. Being able to create is real power.”
I can't remember where I read or saw it, but someone once said, "The difference between an artist and a non-artist is if you leave them alone in a room for an extended period of time with a table full of materials, the non-artist will have not touched them when you return, but the artist will have made something."
Weston didn't get recognition until the end of his life, but that doesn't mean he wasn't always an artist.
The title of this post comes from the preface to one of my favorite books, The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. I chose it because it relates to the collection of designs I chose for the launch of this clothing brand.
This quote popped in my head when my wife looked at my designs and asked if I thought about including some interesting text or quotes with the illustrations. I hadn't. I told her I didn't want context or ideas attached to these designs.
I might very well design shirts with ideas on or behind them in the future, but for this collection I want anyone who looks at these to make their decision to buy them or not buy them based on what they see in from of them and how it makes them feel.
I've gone decades loving songs I didn't understand the lyrics to (the Buena Vista Social Club comes to mind) or thought I knew what the singers were saying but looked up the lyrics and realized I was completely wrong. What about jazz or classical music? I have no idea what Miles Davis was thinking or feeling when he created Kind of Blue (Spotify) but it's one of my Top 5 favorite albums of all time. Glenn Gould's 1981 recording of the Bach's Goldberg Variations is in my Top 5 too. You don't have to understand a work of art to admire it.
So whether it's a Judo flip, a woman's head, or a phonograph, there's no message, only the one you bring to it. Do you like it? Do you dislike it?
Sometimes background and context enhances art and sometimes it ruins it, and in the case of these tees, there's no context to be had.