Denzel Currie is a multidisciplinary artist on a mission: to deliver meaningful art, direction and guidance to help his community and to “be the GOAT”. Using lockdowns to develop a recognisable brand and build a following of 150,000 subscribers on YouTube from scratch, Denzel’s art has captured the attention of fans and brands alike.
His skilled craftsmanship, paired with a deep understanding and broad range of influences (lots of which derive from mythology and anime), have worked together to create unique art pieces. From mythological hide rugs to intricately embroidered jeans, Denzel’s assured grasp on his own brand identity and goals shine through to every piece he makes.
In a recent project with MCM, Denzel worked alongside a group of artists who all took elements of the luxury brand and upcycled them into updated art and fashion pieces. We caught up with the artist following the launch of this project to discuss all things CurrieGOAT.
Firstly, congratulations on the latest project with MCM. The launch was great, can you talk us through that project and how it came to be?
Thank you! I was so surprised when they reached out – I’ve been wanting to do a high end brand since I started. My start was in upcycling clothing, and I eventually moved into leather goods and then rugs. It was dope to see my work finally become what I hoped it would be. MCM found me through my social media: the project was about contemporary British identity. I noticed that the MCM logo had a laurel reef and that’s the symbol of the Olympics. Since Britain did so well in the Olympics I thought it would be nice to tie in that story for this project.
I also work a lot with mythology, and since the Olympic Games find their origins in Greece it was a nice tie in, combining everything that makes MCM fantastic and expressing that through my own creativity.
You started out making art on Etsy – how did your brand and work transition from there to now?
The biggest challenge when starting out is finding an audience, and Etsy already had a built-in audience and tools to sell my work. However, you have to pay the cost to be the boss! Etsy takes a very large cut, so I worked really hard to build my audience to the point where there were enough people in my community that I could sell to directly. At the time this was building on Instagram and Reddit, now it’s moved more to YouTube and TikTok.
I also expanded what I was offering by starting my clothing line which is completely cut and sew. I don’t have to make each individual piece which means more time to making art that engages my audience on a different level, but still providing them with what they came for originally. It’s funny because now I’m known as the rug guy, but I literally built 50% of my audience on customising clothing.
We love your YouTube videos, and how you utilise a platform designers and artists quite often neglect. Can you speak a bit about the videos and their context, and the role they play as a part of your online presence?
YouTube was one of the biggest factors in me being able to do my art work full time. During the pandemic people were very bored and needed crafts to do, and I provided tutorials which did very well. I’ve managed to build over 150,000 subscribers since the pandemic started and I’m quite proud of this. The goal of the channel is to inspire people and give them new hobbies and crafts to take part in. The sheer amount of things and opportunities that have been coming my way means I’m having to rethink what I want to do with the channel, so I’m hoping to do a slight rebrand and do more content that’s friendly for the algorithm at the start of next year, hopefully leading towards a large project which I have planned.
You seem to have an impressive command of your own aesthetic, and consistently produce pieces that are recognisably your own. What is your process for a project like?
Thank you! The goal was definitely for my work to be recognisable without me being seen in it. For the most part, I am not featured heavily in my social media. I did this from the start, deliberately, because I wanted the work to speak for itself. It forced me to develop a visual language. I’m not completely removed from it because I think people still need someone to identify with, but it was very important to me to be respected for my work first.
I like to tell old stories in new ways with my work and I feel like certain stories, definitely mythology, are timeless because they tell very human stories in fantastic ways. My philosophy on creativity is that nothing is new under the Sun – but what’s unique about human creativity is that we can combine the ordinary in extraordinary ways! For example, Naruto is probably the most successful anime, definitely in the Western world, and most of its characters and themes are based on Japanese mythology. I go to the root of those themes and use them to make my own work.
My clothing and rugs that are based off of the Kitsuné look very different from Naruto, but they both draw from the same influences. I didn’t make anything brand-new and I pay homage to the culture they came from but the specific combination that I used to make my work is unique to me.
From that, when involved in a project, do you have any brand ‘trademarks’ or key elements that you try and work into every piece?
There are a few key themes I follow with most of my designs. Not all, but most of these are some of the key giveaways that you’re looking at a curriegoat piece. I work a lot with symmetry, I match a lot of my colours to my trainers, I use mythical creatures and run them through the same theme. For example, one of my most popular rug designs is an animal hide rug but it’s a mythical creature rather than real animal. Even though I’m using a different creature each time, when you see a mythical hide rug you know it’s me!
I also don’t blend my colours when I’m painting or making rugs. This graphic style is inspired by a lot of the cartoons that I used to watch as a child and the games I used to play, like The Powerpuff Girls and Samurai Jack. The illustrators always used clear lines of separation to show shadow and light, which is also used a lot in anime.
A video game example is the legend of Zelda Windwaker. The technique they use is called ‘Cell Shading’. I don’t need to use all of these in every single piece, but, you’ll find at least two of them and everything I do.
Who (or what) are your main design inspirations?
My main inspiration is the story that I want to tell in the moment. Sometimes I’ll see things on social media or in fashion, culture, and it will remind me of an old story I want to retell. I started making furniture last year during the pandemic, almost as a reaction to the fact that everybody was trapped in the house for a year. The stories I chose to tell were linked to our circumstances.
I made a table inspired by Sphinx and Greek mythology: the sphinx is a guardian and won’t let you leave unless you know the answer to a riddle. In a strange way this felt very similar to Covid. none of us would be free until we found vaccines or some way to control the impact of this disease. I also made work based on guardian lions which, I’m sure you can tell by the name, protect the inside of buildings which is where most of us were trapped for a very long time.
What’s next for CurrieGOAT?
I have three main goals moving into 2022. The first is connecting more with my audience. I want to grow my social media and eventually create an exhibition of work in the middle of next year. I’ve been asking my followers to give me suggestions on what to make, and I want the exhibition to be a collaboration between me and them. It should feel like they have a level of ownership when they walk in.
Another goal is to work with as many creators that I admire as possible. One of the biggest thingsI’ve ever done on social media is the stretch rug, made with Shmoxd. We’re getting together again at the end of November and I’m so excited to see what we come up with. I would love to have a connection like that with as many other creatives as possible and spend all of my time travelling the world and collaborating with amazing people!
Another personal goal is to have my own official collaboration sneaker. I’m a massive fan of Converse and I would love to have my own Converse trainer! If you look at my Instagram feed, especially from the beginning, I posted almost exclusively Converse and Nike trainers for the longest, and it’s a massive goal of mine to one day be acknowledged by those brands in the best way possible! My biggest goal is to continue having fun and making art that tells great stories in new ways!