Lisa Simpson in head-to-toe Moschino. A Balenciaga bootie with an OxyContin heel. A Gucci snake, chopped up and served as sushi, nigiri style. Two gummy bears doing something very naughty.
This is how you get to know Dallas-based illustrator Blake Wright: not through a CV or bulleted biography, but through his drawings and animations. They’re fun and filthy and sharp as the Valentino studs that frequently appear. “I draw what excites me,” he says, “and a big part of that is fashion. I love everything about retail: the branding, the logos, the packaging, the bags….” Blake doesn’t just love fashion; he loves the business of fashion. The distinction is an important one.
The native Texan picked up drawing when he was young (like diapers young), got a BFA at University of Texas, and went to design school in Atlanta. Since he quit his day job as a graphic designer in 2014, he’s been commissioned by some choice brands, including Opening Ceremony, Refinery29, Neiman Marcus, and Ashish. When Blake’s work caught Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott’s eye, a series of his prints hit the runway. “Jeremy and I really clicked and I understand the brand, so it was an amazing opportunity.” The business of fashion loves him back.
Consumerism and art rarely part ways in Blake’s world. That’s one of his many paradoxes. He’s a working artist, so the hustle is real. But god help the creative director who comes asking for something Blake doesn’t want to do. Hard pass, no thanks. He’s judgey as hell―no one is safe from his bite―but also unpretentious and kind. His uniform may be shredded cut-offs and tanks, but he’s ridiculously prompt. Make a date with him and he’ll be there ten minutes early, with the first round ordered and waiting for you.
Prismacolors may be Blake’s medium of choice, but everything in his life has a certain expression and composition. The patches and pins on his jacket. The flowers on his dining room table in a penis-shaped vase. His delightfully organized home studio. His countless tattoos. “I love my life in Dallas…I’ve worked hard to build a life I love,” he says.
Currently, Blake is on his way to Paris. The trip is mostly for pleasure―mais oui―but there’s a soupçon of work in the mix. He’s the guest of someone who’s not only a dear friend, but also a collaborator. And that’s the way it goes. Start off as a friend, it won’t be long until you’re shelling out cash for a custom piece. Can you draw my puppy, but like, as a Fendi monster? If you’re a client, you’ll soon consider him a friend. But despite his popularity, his inner circle is surprisingly tight. The paradox.
No doubt he’ll return from the City of Lights with new inspirations. Pop culture, fashion, sex, and drug paraphernalia are through-lines, but other themes come in waves. Lately his subjects have been of a wilder sort: designer Venus fly traps, a pelican dressed in a Valentino Hawaiian shirt, and hundreds of Texas wildflowers with rolling papers wrapped around their stems. “I had just returned from a strange trip,” he says. “And as soon as I got back to Texas, there were fields of flowers welcoming me home.” Perhaps his next series will feature champagne or croissants or Karl and his kitty Choupette on Rue Cambon –and you can bet they’ll be in leather.