New York artist Curtis Kulig first gained international notoriety with his 'Love Me' campaign - you may have spotted it on anything from canvases to rooftops around the world - before gaining further recognition of his painting, sculptures, photography and illustrations . Now for the first time, Topman have collaborated with a U.S. artist to launch the Curtis Kulig x Topman collection, an inspiring capsule that reflects Kulig's personal style.
From a denim workwear jacket to a rich camel overcoat to olive trousers, the artist has crafted a timeless collection of menswear staples…and he even agreed to take up modeling for the day for our photoshoot! These pieces feature elements of his work – with designs, patterns, paintings and illustrations – making their way into linings and details, all in luxury fabrics and relaxed silhouettes. But enough of us talking about it, let’s go to the man himself and find out how the collaboration name came about.
How did creating a collection for Topman differ from
Creating clothing is much more pattern and colour based and you have a fairly clear intention from the outset. There are boundaries. Buttons go here, a sleeve looks like this. We all know these things. Painting is different in that there aren’t quite as many rules. The rules that apply most are colour and texture, so perhaps they‘re more alike than I thought. Attaching my finished work for graphical patterns and as linings really made the process feel balanced.
Talk us through the process of how you ended up with the
I looked at my own personal favorite pieces I couldn’t live without and started making mock ups, little sketches and illustrations, cultural icons who influenced my style, sometimes even just a word that was a feeling I wanted. From there the TOPMAN team and I went fabric shopping and started to explore the textures and then sent everything off to be sampled. I had a clear vision of what I wanted it to look like, so it was all really organic. The experience was a year in the making and I wouldn’t change a thing about the process. It’s always really rewarding to see ideas made into realities.
Did you find the project challenging?
Not at all. It came very naturally. When something has motion and there aren’t many bumps along the way, it’s always a good sign, and that was definitely the case.
What elements of New York inspired your collection?
Uptown Manhattan - Central Park - coffee and a newspaper … a Sunday stroll. I’ve always lived downtown so I have a very romantic view on uptown New York.
What would you recommend to a first time New York visitor?
Escape from Times Square and have fun. Buy a Zagat guide to find the best restaurants the old New York way, definitely spend a night at The Box and stroll around the Frick Museum then grab a coffee and pastry at Café Sabarsky.
Was there a style of any specific person you wanted
Woody Allen & Joseph Beuys. A gentlemanly style that’s classic but a little offbeat. They may not be known for their style but their sensibility is easily recognizable.
What original artwork features in the collection?
I placed a Chance painting in the silk lining of the wool coat, a Bubble Wrap painting lines the corduroy blazer. I’ve been doing a lot of work around targets, the idea of what we aim to idealize versus the reality of an experience and so I placed a large one on the back of the sweatshirt and added a few personal sketches to the sleeve. I’m really happy with the way everything reproduced in terms of colour and consistency.
What’s your favorite piece and why?
The wool coat - you can't go wrong. That colour is too good! And the lining is so bold that it’s really unexpected.
So what is a typical day like in the life of an artist?
Wake up late, water plants, have a coffee, paint, meetings, paint again, try to ignore my phone and be present.
A portion of the profits from the collection will go to charity Free Arts NYC. Why did you choose this particular charity?
I think what Free Arts NYC does is amazing, I’ve been a huge supporter since I first came in contact with them a few years ago. I’ve donated multiple pieces over the years for auction because I think it’s a wonderful cause. They have so many great initiatives, from mentorships, to creative events, to museum and studio visits. I think so many kids and teens really find their own voice through art and that it really opens minds. I’m so happy they are a part of this.