Bradley Theodore is one of the most influential artists of his generation, and one of the most creative stars of the fashion world. Today, Bradley Theodore has agreed to let us interview him and pick his brain in order to better understand what drives his creative power, what his influences are, and how are exactly Coco Chanel and Frida Kahlo similar! The artist famous for his Dia de Los Muertos style of painting has started his career as a street artist in New York, one of his hometowns (read about that more in the interview) and he is continuously paving the path for young, creative minds who wish to pursue the career in art and fashion. One of his most notable quotes is “Fashion allows people to become art” and Theodore has been kind enough to elaborate a bit more on this topic, but the quote alone is inspirational enough for all the fashion aficionados out there. His fearless venture from the world of street art to the world of high couture is a motivation for many, so if you are interested in knowing more about his unique style and his background, go ahead and read the rest of this post.
All images courtesy of Maddox Gallery, London.
Photos from the exhibition opening by Alex Maguire, courtesy Maddox Gallery. Bradley Theodore: Son of the Soil, 28 April – 28 May 2016, Maddox Gallery.
Beginnings and Influences
Widewalls: Many artists over the years have been influenced by their home towns or places of residence. How did New York affect your creativity, and do you think your style would be different if your home was someplace else?
Theodore: My art has been influenced by two home towns Turks and Caicos and New York. You could say one is the light and the other is the darkness. They are both islands that require you to focus on your surroundings.
Widewalls: Since you began your career as a street artist, how would you say that such kind of art influenced your works today?
Theodore: Street art allows you to be yourself. You’re not focused on trying to impress a curator or a particular museum. Your focus is on impressing the people who in return share your work with other people through social media and word-of-mouth. I would personally rather have over 20 million people promote my artwork, as opposed to one art curator who may have his or her personal bias.
Widewalls: Your paintings are unique and recognizable, whenever someone sees one of your works they just know that you executed it. How did you “decide” on the Dia de Los Muertos art style?
Theodore: My Style is focused on the inner spirit and wrapping color around it in a unique way, I think that artist in every time, in every age and society can see similarities in life and for me the skull is just one of them.
Karl, Anna, Frida, Coco
Widewalls: Karl Lagerfeld, Ana Wintour, and Kate Moss are often the subjects of your works. Did you always have passion for fashion and how did you choose Karl as one of the people you paint?
Theodore: I’ve always loved fashion even when I didn’t know what it was. My mother would put our school clothing on Layaway so that we could always be fresh on the first day of school. Her hard work and savings allowed me to appreciate our school gear in a way that no one else could understand. We would stage fashion shows at home the week before school started.
Widewalls: One of the most interesting duos in your paintings is definitely the one of Frida Kahlo and Coco Chanel. Were you particularly inspired by Frida’s works and Coco’s distinctive glam and how did these two end up on a painting together?
Theodore: They are so similar it’s a wonder they didn’t meet each other and become best friends and pen pals. They both share the love for fashion, art and culture. They both had to fight to create in a world where women were seen as mannequins. I am a mama’s boy so I respect women like that.
Widewalls: “Fashion allows people to become art.” For us, this particular quote was especially interesting. Would you elaborate a bit on this? Can we all become art through fashion even though we do not wear high couture in our everyday lives?
Theodore: As humans we are naturally equipped with a few tools and the one we’ve had the best results with in our endeavours is the brain. We’ve created a world where shape and color come together to lead the basis for our society. We call that art, not only do you want to shape our world, it wanted to shape us. I would call that fashion.
Basquiat, Cultural Appropriation, The Future
Widewalls: You have often been compared to Jean-Michel Basquiat. Do you think this comparison is justified and would you say that your works are similar in some way?
Theodore: I’m very close to a few of his studio mates and friends who draw a comparison but they also point out the differences. My friend used to run a Pop shop for Keith Haring. He said the best, we live in the now in the today, you’re the now and the today.
Widewalls: Nowadays, stories about cultural appropriation are flooding the Internet. What are your thoughts on this and would you say that it is okay to acknowledge other cultures in art or fashion?
Theodore: Culture. Free for everyone.
Widewalls: Do you enjoy painting on the walls or movable surfaces more?
Theodore: I enjoy painting.
Widewalls: In the end, what can we expect from Bradley Theodore in the future? What are your goals and plans for the next couple of years?
Theodore: My goal is to create amazing artwork and to continue to explore the relationship with color and energy.