We’re still excited to mark 25 years of Crumpler bags roaming the streets and airways of the world. And what better way to do that than to celebrate the creative relationships that sustain and excite us. We teamed up with artist Phil Ferguson, aka Chili Philly for the release of our Limited Edition 25th Anniversary Barney Messenger.
Has your news feed ever featured a crocheted hamburger? Or maybe a crochet-hat pizza, eggplant or edamame bean? Chances are, it’s a creation of Melbourne-based artist Chili Philly.
After studying sculpture at Curtin University in Perth, Phil made the move from Perth to Melbourne in 2014. Around this time, he started crocheting. He didn’t take lessons or have a pattern, he just created something fun. After many episodes of the reality TV drag queen competition RuPaul's Drag Race, and a hat-wearing character in the TV show Adventure Time, the combination of bright-camp-wearable art was born. He started wearing his creations (firstly a hamburger that took months to make) and posting them on instagram. Chili Philly’s wearable art has taken the Instagram world by storm, gathering over 130,000 followers, a proud Mardi Gras appearance and even a friendly DM from Miley Cyrus.
He says: “There isn't much 'to get' with what I do, I simply create what I want to make and let my imagination go wild!” This combination of bright, spontaneous, wearable art was a perfect match for our anniversary release. The Barney is an iconic messenger bag from Crumpler’s early ‘90s days, that we’ve now brought back as a 25 Years Limited Edition tribute.
We sat down (virtually) with Chili Philly to ask about his process behind our anniversary collaboration.
How did your relationship with Crumpler start?
I first was approached by Crumpler 2015 for a blog interview and because of that I got to keep a few things, a Big Red, a backpack, a camera strap and a squid. I've always used those things ever since, so I've always repped Crumpler wherever I go!
What do you think Crumpler and Chiliphilly have in common?
I think Crumpler is known to be a fun, colourful but also practical and high quality. I feel as an artist, that those are qualities I like to incorporate into my work. I always think about function in regard to what I create, especially due to myself creating wearable art. Though I also try to make sure that it's colourful and appealing to anyone looking at what I do!
How did the Barney project come to life? What was your approach for this project?
I recently got in touch with Crumpler because I had started working in-store over Christmas and let them know that I was around if there were any opportunities to collaborate. Because of my past with the brand, my current role as a Brand Ambassador in store and the 25th anniversary coming up, we felt like it was a good opportunity to work on something inspired by the 25th anniversary Barney!
I am probably the most inspired by the more vibrant bags that Crumpler makes, so I really wanted to do something inspired by the red and yellow striped Barney. Though once I had started making a crochet version of the bag, I felt like the colours really leant themselves to being a jumper and I started making that on the side as well!
So all in all I was very much inspired by the design of the bag and thought of ways I could do my own version!
How do you normally plan your pieces?
I don't usually draw or write out what I do, I usually just make! Because I have many years of experience making, I can usually visualise what I want to make using what I have made in the past as the basis for me to continue going. Though I will say, I will only make if I feel truly inspired to, it's a bit hard for me to make something when I don't really want to.
How do you define yourself as an artist?
I would probably define myself as a practical artist: I like creating functional, wearable things but also they have to function in terms of appealing to a larger audience. There isn't much 'to get' with what I do, I simply create what I want to make and let my imagination go wild! At the end of the day, I want people to like what I do because that is really what keeps me going!