David David


09 Monday 09th August 2010

David Saunders began his career in fine art, working with artists including Tracey Emin and Mat Collishaw. The transition to fashion happened in 2004 with the launch of his label, David David. Focusing on bold colours and geometric prints, David David has gained critical acclaim from a host of fashion magazines, including Vogue and i-D. He has been publically supported by big name celebrities and fashionistas, from Agyness Deyn to Kanye West. Each item is treated as its own work of art, and his ready-to-wear collection is now stocked in fashion capitals worldwide. Dave is pretty damn good at what he does.  

But Dave didn’t set out to lead a life of fashion – and he kinda still doesn’t. Speaking with Don't Panic, Dave maintains that he is a graphic artist who would rather live in a submarine, and prefers when artists come to him to collaborate.
How did you decided to start painting onto T-shirts rather than canvases?
I always struggled with geometric art. There was something about it I couldn't get to grips with. I think perhaps it was that it is purely aesthetic and as a conceptual artist I found that there was little beyond its beauty. I was doing some research and stumbled across a book on Americans Indians, in the book they discussed that symmetrical geometrics work better on fabrics, motion (the fabrics fluidity) compliments its structure. As an experiment I made a t-shirt with a geometric design for myself to see if it was true. As I gazed down at my chest on my first t-shirts outing I realised it was true, and not long after I set out on my walk other people were complimenting on my t-shirt. I thought there something in this, maybe I should make some more! I think the bright colours I used with traditional structures hit a cord with my contemporaries. Shortly there was a demand for my t-shirts and I didn't look back for some time.
Have you found that you are looking back now? Do you think there is a future for you in the conceptual art world – or do you see yourself someone purely in fashion?
Ha! This is a familiar question which I always find to be a bit double. "Am I an artist?" I think you might be asking? I do think there is a future for me in the conceptual art world, I’ve never taken my art head off. I consider myself to be constantly creating 'art' and by right it is only me who can label my work. It is commonly said that an object becomes art when its creator says (or agrees) that is art, (meaning that anything can be deemed as art if you decide your work is art). One might argue that my print work is fashion as it may only find itself on fabric, but I see fabric as one of many vehicles for me to express myself and the print itself stands alone as an object which I can use for any purpose I choose. Perhaps my prints are not as heavily conceptual as some art but there is a thought process, a constructing, a history and development. My prints come from research and an analysis of my surroundings and my thoughts, so the process is the same perhaps the finish piece is a little different. Could a painting not just be a decorative piece of canvas that covers a bear wall? To answer your question I continue to make art and it is up to the person who views it whether or not they agree with me that it is a work of art or not. However, I did once have a meeting with one contemporary gallery who concluded that I now represent the fashion world rather than the art world and perhaps it would compromise their ethos. That again is for the gallery to decide. But if I were to be asked, what I would say is an artist for most who works in fashion.
So the answer to your question is yes, but it is up to the 'conceptual art world' to accept me. I hope to be showing my work in a gallery this year or in 2011, then we shall see if there are any preconceptions of where my work should lie, I hope that I can truly bed hop across the fields.
Because of the pop art reference in your designs do you see yourself venturing more into that domain? There were rumours of a collaboration with Kanye West who is a fan of your work...
Well many musicians have worn David David, lets see; M.I.A, Santogold, La Roux, Bono (of U2), and yes Kanye West. We were in fact in talks with Kanye to collaborate on his fashion label 'Pastelle'. But before the project happened Kanye’s team announced they were no longer going to launch, shame it would have been fun! It’s always fun to work with a musician especially when it someone you already admire, it was a good feeling to get those phone calls. My brother and I were just spending the day walking around hungover when the phone rang, it was Kanye, I didn't believe my brother when he handed me the phone. Santogold I love, so it’s such an honour to have these artists telling you they appreciate your work and want to wear it. To answer your question I'd love to do something with artists I admire, but I'm not one to pursue a musician, I find it best for them to come to you, then you know they like your work rather than it being a chance to pick up some free clothes or just one more outfit while they are on the road.  Can you ask me some questions like if I was an animal what animal would I be?
[laughs] If you were and Animal, what sort of Animal would you be? 
I’d be an elephant; you’ve got a long hooter so you can scratch, you get to roll in mud, swim underwater and you have a built in snorkel, you can make lots of noise, make a rumble in the jungle, I think it might be fun.
What about if you could have your own house built what would it be like?
I think I'd like to live in a submarine, so I could pop up where ever I pleased, see the ocean floor and the clouds in the sky. Furnished with William Morris carpets, a tea maid, a soda stream and a bubble bath. 
And, boringly but come on, we want to know what you are up to for London Fashion Week?
For London Fashion week I will be drinking alcoholic beverages, seeing shows doing stuff and disco dancing with my friends.

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at panic@dontpaniconline.com and we will respond asap.