Q&A with Gary Card for DSM 10 Year Anniversary

Gary Card, 'Recoil' series (2014) courtesy the artist

Gary Card graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2002 where he studied theatre design. Since then, he has worked on a series of bold and varied projects for the likes of Stella McCartney, Cos and Uniqlo. In this new work, Card partners with his long-standing friends, the global concept store Dover Street Market, to play with sculpture, illustration and design and create some limited edition t-shirts as part of their 10 Year Celebrations. These strange, scuba-like figures stand in the basement of the London outlet wearing the garments they inspired, and contribute to a magical atmosphere that takes aestheticism at the forefront of commerce.

What was the idea behind the collaboration with DSM?
I've worked with the Dover Street team since the beginning of my career. They've always been so supportive to me so I feel in a way that I'm part of the Dover Street family. I was honoured when they asked me to contribute some t-shirt designs to the store to celebrate their 10th anniversary. 'Recoil' is a recurring project I've worked on for about four years: I make loose figurative forms out of Plasticine and make a pen and ink illustration directly from it. The process is very energetic and immediate; each illustration takes about an hour from twisting the material into a shape I like to then finishing the drawing. When Dover Street asked me to create a small collection of t-shirts, I started experimenting with 20 drawings from the project as print designs, and these were our favourites. 

Your sculptures in the basement of the store are, unusually, made of white Plasticine. What appeals to you about this material?
The installation itself was about taking the idea back to its original process – displaying the t-shirts on the material that inspired the drawing seemed like a fun idea, plus the smell of that amount of Plasticine is amazing. I love the material because it’s so immediate, and it also (like a lot of my personal work) evokes a feeling of childhood. Seeing the material at this scale, however, and applied in such a way, is a bit unsettling which I like. That’s the ultimate lasting impression I want to leave: curiously unsettling.

What excites you most about collaborations that meld the contemporary art and fashion worlds?
I think the variety of concepts, genres and styles you get to play with. In a lot of respects its actually freer than working directly in the art world because its not so concerned with theory. It can exist for the sole purpose of delighting and intriguing rather than having a fixed agenda.

You've said before that your work is a balance between perfectionism and spontaneity. How does this manifest itself in your work processes?
Did I say that? It’s a very strong statement. Was I drunk? I think what I may have meant by that is it’s about making a decisive mark, whatever the spontaneous expression is, it has to be the most considered and direct version of it. this in itself is a complete contradiction but its what I work towards. 

In the spirit of the occasion, what do 'The Next 10 Years' mean for you?
The next 10 years are about figuring out exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life. I think I said that 10 years ago though.

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