Getting (T) Shirty.

August 12, 2015

Photo 12-08-2015 19 51 04What is it about T-shirts? They can turn you into a portable work of art, a political statement or quite often an advertising billboards for the company that you have bought the garment from. I have developed a strange love affair with some of my t shirts to the point where some of their losses haunt me now, many years later and other’s I can’t bear to part with no matter how threadbare they are or how fat they make me look.  I suspect I may have a bit of a T-shirt problem, I don’t know how many I own but I suspect it is in the low hundreds. Maybe this is why I have, for a long while now, felt the urge to design my own or maybe it is because a truly icon tee, like album covers and film posters can ascent to the point of becoming a work of art.

Here are my top ten favourite T-shirts, some of which I own and some of which I have coveted from afar.

Photo 12-08-2015 13 53 2910) Please Kill Me!   A version of this was made famous by American punk Richard Hell of the band Television. The version I owned (still own but it is now way too small) was bought from cult shop Sign of the Times at some point in the mid 90’s it’s a ringer tee, having a collar and long sleeves in contrasting colours to the main body. Like many of the best t-shirts it is slightly offensive and confrontational in nature.

685756799858468b47a355d296c651979) The Cure, Kissing Tour. Everyone has their favourite gig T-shirt, and this is mine. From a sentimental view, it is the first ever concert I went to back in December 1987 but it is also a nice bit of design. As was the fashion in the late 80’s it was huge, an xxxl with a full colour design on both the front and rear. As my figure has regrettably started to catch up with 80’s t-shirt fashions I could probably still fit in it but seeing as it is now nearly 30 years old it is too fragile to wear.

images8) Pop Will Eat Itself Pepsi logo. Pop Will Eat Itself (PWEI) had a close relationship with, Sheffield graphic designers, The Designers Republic who produced many iconic designs for them before creating the look of classic Playstation game, Wipeout amongst other things. This play on the Pepsi cola logo is encircled by the phrase “Sample it, Loop it, F**k it and Eat it.” a line from their song “Very Metal Noise Pollution” I never owned this T-shirt as I always held out for one of the long sleeve ‘rude’ versions sans asterix.

Gay_Cow_Boys_2014-500x5007) Another shirt I never owned was the Vivienne Westwood “Gay Cowboys” shirt mainly because, like most original Westwood clothing, it is now worth a small fortune. Sold when the shop was called “Sex”. The two cowboys with their winkies almost touching was guaranteed to offend in repressed 1970’s Britain. I had a few Westwood tees in the late 90’s but as the sizings were always quite small, I sold them off as I put on weight.

0010ae7e006) Anarchic Adjustment was the archetypal 90‘s skatewear company designing ‘edgy’ T- Shirts, often with a strong moral or political message. The shirt I owned hand a huge hand covering the entire front of the shirt. In tiny lettering beneath it are the words “You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist”. The designer would use unusual design techniques including black on black printing and creating images using a photocopier.IMG_4155_large

5) Strawberry shirt. Another iconic skatewear firm was Insane who’s images had a very bold style with thick outlines to them. The images were often quite wonky in construction. It is a deep irony now, after years of debilitating mental health problems that I spent much of the 90’s with the word “Insane” emblazoned across my chest or back.

120cb84) W&LT I Love You! Dutch designer Walter Van Beirendonck was at the cutting edge of the rave and cyberpunk scenes. Using manufacturing techniques only commonly used, sadly, in small children’s clothing. Designer primarily for members of the rave scene, clothing had a high level of play value. One of my favourite t-shirts had a sheriff’s badge attached and a large print of a gun across it. This shirt had a mechanism built in where the eyes of Puk Puk, one of Beirendonck’s trademark characters flashed and a voice box says “I love you!” from with the t-shirt.

IMG_27743) Maharishi has for the past few years been my go to designer of T-Shirts, mainly because of their high ethical standards of manufacturing and their intelligent use of images. I tend to go for their slightly cheaper and bigger belly friendly MHI range. I have too much of their stuff to really have a favourite but I do love my Psychomania, an obscure British 1970’s B Horror movie, ones rather a lot (I often get the same shirt in a variety of colourways (I said I had a problem)). They have gone through an annoying phase recently of emblazoning their logo across their shirts which has forced me to cut down my nasty habit as I dislike the idea that after paying thirty odd pounds stirling for very basic garment, I am expected to give them free advertising too.

Photo 12-08-2015 16 29 352) Kidrobot was for the most of the noughties probably the best producer of t-shirts. Kidrobot was first and foremost a maker of designer toys, often called designer or urban vinyl, and would get the same cutting edge graffiti and graphic designers to decorate both toys and T-shirts. Of these, my favourite was a graffiti artist called Dalek, whose real name is James Marshall. Marshall worked in the studio of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami and has a similar very graphic style with a range of stylised characters.

14344915958121) Floral Tee by Takashi Murakami. I have worn this shirt only once because it really doesn’t suit me. Some things, however, are just so lovely that they are work having just to look at. These wardrobe wonders as I call them look better on a hanger than on me. I am planning to get this particular T-shirt frame as it is too lovely to hide away in a draw. Takashi Murakami regards everything he produces in the way of merchandise as being as much art as his sculptures and canvas’.

By now you might have gathered that I am rather fond of T-shirts and in this spirit, I have tried my hand at designing some of my own. The first to be produced is a design based on the poster for Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Where the knife wielding Alex, the protagonist of Antony Burgess’ dystopian novel is replaced by a flower waving Dweebling. I have taken great care in it’s production from tracking down one of the best screen printers out there, through to designing special labels and hang tags. Hopefully my love of the T-shirt and my knowledge of what works and what doesn’t has been transferred into this design. If you want one, you can get one Here:-Photo 08-08-2015 16 05 21

Late Introductions…

March 2, 2015

self portraitHellooooo! My name is Christopher Hoggins and I am the creator of the Dweeblings. I have had to write various artist’s statements recently and had to try and explain exactly why a 44 year old man draws funny little big eyed creatures that are severely lacking in the ear and nose department. So where do I start? Well I’ll guess I should start at the very beginning. That’s a very good place to start. Well I was born is the summer of… Ok, maybe not that far back. The first Dweeblings appeared as doodles in my art history notebooks at Middlesex University at some point in 1996. They were among a menagerie of other made up creatures that I used to scrawl constantly whilst I should have been concentrating how to learn proper art speak. My Father had recently died and rather than deal with my emotions I did the typical blokey thing and buried myself in my work but it started to leak out in all sorts of ways, the odd doodles in my notebook being one of them. And there they stayed ’til about some time in about 2000, by which point I had got my degree, had a nervous breakdown, lost my home and found myself living in my mother’s house which was many hundreds of miles from my friends or indeed anyone I knew. For many years I barely left the house and as the internet back then was slower than a snail on valium so I spent and awful lot of time reading books (I even tried writing a couple), playing on my N64 and then my Gamecube and making - Version 2 It was around this time that the first ever painted Dweebling appeared. It was an a very large canvas and had a very long spindly neck and limbs. Now an important things to know about me is that I am more than a touch obsessive. Once I get an idea in my head, I need to go through every idea and every permutation of that idea. I am like one of those automated car factories that churns stuff out day and night and I have no idea where the off switch is. This meant that once I had done one painting I needed to do another, and another and… well you get the idea. I realised that these little creatures could do all the things I couldn’t. DSC00732They could travel to Barcelona and check out Gaudi’s buildings whist I couldn’t face getting a bus into town or they could appear onstage as Elvis or the Sex Pistols when I couldn’t stomach the thought of going into the co-op to buy some milk. As time went by I got a little better and with the advent of broadband internet made the world a lot bigger for people like myself. Around 8 years and many painting later I eventually, with the help of the original IAPT trial, managed to finally move to my own flat by the sea in St Leonards. The move nearly killed me and I had a particularly awful time with finding out someone I thought was a friend actually wasn’t. Once things settled down though and I started to get out and see things, the Dweeblings also made themselves at home in their  new environment. They started to reinterpret what they saw and started to develop a mind of their own. There were even a couple who didn’t smile…. During what were particularly bad years for me, I hunkered down and worked on two series of works on paper. BWthe prison_edited-1Firstly, my own version of William Hogarth’s “A Rake’s Progress” solely using a ball point pen and secondly a complete set of illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. There was a political undercurrent to both these projects, brought about by the Con-Dem Government’s barbaric policies in respect to people justapackofcards_edited-1with mental health issues, particularly in respect to their finances. Hogarth documented, amongst other things, crushing poverty whilst Alice in Wonderland describes perfectly what it is like to work out what is sane in a world which is profoundly mad. Over the last couple of years The Dweeblings have been appearing in portraits, first in a series entitled “The Kings and Queens of Kings Road” documenting the characters real and imagined around Kings Road St Leonards on Sea and more recently in a series of portraits in of the staff and service users of a local mental health support centre where I interviewed the sitters and told their stories in paint. Right now, I am working on a long term project documenting thehidden stories of places in East Sussexand turning them into paintings and colouring in books. And after that, who knows?alltogethernow

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