Dom Sebastian’s surrealist still life and pastel-heavy fashion has seen him go from a snowballing tumbr fanbase to commissions from the likes of Chanel and Urban Outfitters, eager for a piece of his infectious internet aesthetic.
Still a student at London’s Central St Martins, he’s designed album art for Hucci, Bewilderbeast and Empress of, his sweats and caps have been stocked by Shoreditch’s Lik + Neon and while he hasn’t released a new line in nearly two years his social media is full of fans worldwide begging for more.
We sat down with him – in a self-made rough-cut cashmere sweater, thrift-store shirt, black skinny jeans and blue Nike Kukinis – to talk about his journey, upcoming projects and his latest release, a Selected Works pulled from 5 years of experimentation.
Music producer, fashion designer, graphic artist… how do you usually introduce yourself?
Usually I’d just say artist, but what I’m doing at the moment is definitely more designer work. The only thing that I’m not doing is music.
Why not? You’re HotSugar collab was such a bop-
2.2 million views, I know. I didn’t really feel it was going anywhere though, and everything else was. I’ll probably come back to it at some point, but not in the near future. Maybe ten years down the road lol.
Let’s talk a bit about how it all started. How did you become the insta-celeb you are today?
It started with just posting stuff on tumblr. I got addicted to making and posting stuff online every day. I did the holographic melt pictures when I was doing my A levels, and it’s weird because one of those just got me some work for Urban Outfitters the other day. It’s strange how something I made so long ago is still being seen.
It’s fair to say the Holographic Melt series went viral though, right?
Kinda, it was a little annoying actually – they were shared so much that the credits were lost in the process. I found a bunch of phone screens that used my art because no one knew who the art belonged to. I had to contact them to get them to stop.
Starting out, was there a specific artistic vision, an idea that “this is what I want to do”?
Back then it was just experimenting, trying new ways of working – and even now, I’d say it still is. In a way, I’ve had time to reflect on and develop from the work, but sometimes my first experiments still end up being final pieces.
You talk a lot about “visual subversion” – what is that?
It’s just subverting the idea of what something should look like, and developing that into something new. I like the idea of changing one thing into something unexpected.
You portfolio is pretty impressive – along with album covers for Hoochi and Bewilderbeast , you’ve been commissioned by Nike, Chanel and Camper this year. How do you approach these projects, what is it about your work that’s got so much hype?
I would say it’s probably the surrealism, it’s a little unexpected and a little bit different. I also think it’s because I don’t try and focus on showcasing the product necessarily, I incorporate into the piece, approach it the same way I approach my still life shots. It’s about making something I really like.
I guess that idea of really making products your own can be quite appealing to brands, too?
Do you have a favourite project?
Probably the scientific still life that I did for Microsoft x Dazed.
I recognised a 90s/early noughties vibe with some of your still life…
I don’t like thinking of my work as just replaying a 90s look, but I do think that it takes recognisable aspects in a forward-looking way. It’s not nostalgic.
How do you feel studying textile design in London has impacted your work?
I haven’t published the work I’ve been doing in textile design yet. At the end of my first year in graphic design I was releasing small selections of clothing, and I realised that what I really want to work on. All the still life and art could centre around that, but it’s the fashion side I really want to pursue.
You haven’t released any new clothing in two years and we definitely want to see more, so can you tell us anything about what you’re working on at the moment?
It’s very experimental clothing, unlike anything I’ve done before – it’s very material based. The collection will be finished by the Summer, but I might release a few pieces before.
What are your inspirations?
Honestly, it’s objects. Recently I’ve been really inspired by this blue plastic watering can. I just love it. It’s in a few pieces that I’ve made.
You’re selected works has just come out right?
It was a test run but it sold out in two days. I’m going to have more of those coming out and two more books this year, including a photoseries about the work around liquids I’ve been doing. They’ll be more art books than look books, exploring process and materials as well as the pieces.
Dom Sebastian’s Selected Works will be available on his website.
Words by Amardeep Singh