You might have recognised the distinctive illustration work of Sebastian Curi featured in Zara Man's summer collection, titled "What color is the color of the sky?". Vibrant primary hues take centre stage, aiming to stimulate deeper conversations with the observer rather than being purely decorative.
With ten garments crafted under Zara's Join Life sustainability standards, the collection showcases Sebastian's classic motifs, including hands and simple shapes, through a meticulous process of sketches, digital artwork, and traditional mediums. Spanning five t-shirts, a bucket hat, shorts, a matching sweatshirt, a bowling shirt, silk bandana and socks, it's a technicolour dream closet.
We caught up with Seb to understand the ideas, challenges and the excitement of seeing the visually stimulating range worn by people...and one adorable dachshund, worldwide.
How did you feel when Zara got in touch?
Some projects come straight from the blue. I truly didn’t have any expectation around working on a clothing collection and this one came as big as it gets. It was this mix of a surprise, excitement and complete panic because of the scale and scope of the project.
The range is so invigorating and bright, where do you look for inspiration when it comes to colour and scale?
Inspiration changes in my life quite a lot. I find myself lately being very curious and at the same time with a very short span of attention. Painting is becoming something that is taking more and more time in life. So visiting museums and buying artist’s catalogs or monographs is something that I’m doing more and more. Keith Haring line works, Josef Albers square studies, Yayoy Kusama patterns, Ikko Tanaka’s simplicity are all examples of ideas that I tried to bring to the body of work for this collaboration with ZARA.
Hand gestures have become synonymous with the name Seb Curi. What first drew you to them?
The creative process is not a straight arrow you know. Things happen simultaneously and without a lot of reason. Is chaos and intention. I guess learning how to draw in my 30s and the problem of translating ideas into a personal way of representation took me to tackle hands.
Hands give me a theme that covers everything that I need now: It is intimate enough so I feel it like something personal. It balances my commercial work where sometimes I get really busy working with studios and agencies and brands, and these simple hands gestures let me focus on something small and simple and very emotional if you ask me.
It is quite the thing if I’m being honest. I feel deeply humbled by the response the collection has still to this day.
The excellent 'Zara cat' looks like they've seen a ghost! What's their story?
I’m really interested in finding a way to represent something that looks undoubtedly my own. The scared cat tries to do that. To present a seed idea of a language. And I love to draw things that come from an emotion. Just a figure or a quick gesture and you get it. Like lightning, you know. I feel so many years of working on advertising created in me a need of readability and clearness. I love when you can read an image right away and it is poignant and impactful.
The cat idea specifically came from noticing how cats raise their hair signaling stress. I thought of it as a very iconic moment. And so universal and I don’t know, I suppose being an artist puts you in this place of observation and thinking and recognizing when something is special. I felt all this had some value and I just went for it.
Your designs are worn worldwide - we still see them about one year on! How does it feel to see people wearing your work?
It is quite the thing if I’m being honest. I feel deeply humbled by the response the collection has still to this day. I believe art is for everybody you know. Art can be cheap and popular and mass produced. It can be worn by thousands of people and have the same value. I don’t make differentiations between a t-shirt, a canvas painting, a tv commercial or a poster. I go where the people are. There is a part of my work that connects with the people and I want to hear it all. I want to see how they use it, what they think, it informs my work because I take it as a conversation.
What’s been happening in your world since the project launched last summer?
Since the launch of the collection I’m focusing a bit more on my practice. It’s a re-organization of how I work entirely, still working on it though but I feel the studio reflects all these changes. I think a lot about the process and how the daily routine provides an environment that results in ideas that later on become execution of something. How I make things basically.
We live in a digital era. I’m a person that has lived with computers since I was a child and it was very formative for me and my art. But to keep all my ideas in folders inside a computer doesn’t work for me anymore and I want to put the ideas outside. I still draw things and just share them on social media. Like a journal. I feel that’s still relevant and I like to keep a casual conversation with the people that follow my work. But I’m also using the print editions, the paintings, the clothing collaborations and even drawings on paper and pencil to solidify those ideas into something that should live longer. And that connects with people in a different way than an image that you like or scroll down on Instagram you know.
I love to work and thinking about how that work lives outside my studio is something that is taking me some time to figure it out but I guess is a great question for an artist to ask and I never asked myself that.
Head over to Seb's Behance page for more product shots and background to the project.