‘Bold… Satire… Dreams.’
I first meet Philip Colbert at the entrance of Frieze and, of course it is not hard to miss him. Dressed in a bright red suit, with matching red converses and his trademark lobster print tie.
‘I see the lobster as this like protagonist of surrealism... drawing cartoon lobsters and then I started putting them into my brand… People started identifying me with lobsters…. The character in a way just became my alter ego for myself.’
We exchange small talk walking through the booths, searching for a spot that is a little less hectic. He tells me about his very busy morning, and I tell him about my first time at Frieze. He catches some interesting artwork, further stops to explore and take a picture. A few strolls later we stop in front of the VIP lounge area and walk straight through the staff at the door. No one asks to see any ID or passes. I guess his red suit shouts important.
We are seated at a small table and he very politely asks me if I was hungry, or if I’d like a drink. He orders the carrot salad and some water.
Once a young man studying philosophy, he has come a long way in the art and fashion world. Describing his work as ‘Bold… Satire… Dreams,’ Colbert’s fans include Lady Gaga, and Karl Lagerfeld.
You’d think it would be hard to manage an established fashion brand and create a pop art universe, but for him everything links to one another.
"For me it’s all part of the same sort of holistic language…making like an artistic world and language beyond just one medium. "
Exhibiting his work worldwide from Art Basel, the Design Exchange Canada and previous Frieze fairs. His work rests on a foundation of iconic symbols, and humours dialogue. With so much to choose from, he hesitates to pick his favourite work.
"In terms of paintings I think it’s probably the one in the exhibition at Saatchi…. The Desert Hunt…. In terms of clothing I think probably my Urinal dress… Chairs I really like the lobster chair." It’s at this moment the salad arrives and the waitress leans over to put it down. As he digs into his food we carry on talking. There really is no moment of awkwardness. He talks about his plans for the rest of the day, his hometown of Scotland and being a father.
In 2015 the Rodnik Brand collaborated with Bamford watch Department to create 25-limited pieces with Snoopy x Rolex. If you did happen to have about £15,000 hanging around you might have got your hands one. "I really enjoyed doing the Snoopy collaboration... I find it’s a wheezy character to play around with. They’re all interesting in different ways that’s the thing it’s like holistic having lots of things in different dimensions together"
It’s no surprise that, like most of us there were times where Colbert questioned his own work.
"I think as an artist you’re always correcting it… I think as an artist you’re also your biggest critic and you’re constantly analysing and like critiquing the whole time."
But in the end it’s clear to see how proud he is of his work, his experiences and this pop art world he is building. His hand gestures say it all, this man loves what he does.
"It’s a huge privilege to be able to make, and you know to invest time in ones own world. And that’s an amazing privilege to be able to do that and I’m really thankful for that, so I work really hard to keep that going…. I love the idea of being able to sort of create a fantasy and reality situation and I think it’s really important that, that exists"
Four glazed carrots later he gets the bill and I follow him out the lounge and back into the art hungry crowd. We shake hands and part our ways. What does the future hold for this unstoppable force? A clothing range with Kanye West and his first set of sculptural houses.
Words by ROSA DERE