Black Sheep and Prodigal Sons is the brainchild of Brooklyn’s own Derrick R. Cruz. Immensely inspired by the energy and vibe of New York City, Cruz put his passion for mixed-media works to the test and launched an accessories company- Black Sheep and Prodigal Sons. The main mission behind Cruz’s eclectic collection brings forth both endangered and modern technologies to create “alluringly dark objects with a timeless yet relevant aesthetic”. Cruz received the GEN ART Styles International Design Award for accessories in 2007 – and has been keeping busy with his latest project A NEW HIVE (read below). A man always creating new forms of media – Cruz let me in on what’s been occupying time in recent months. Read my one-on-one below (Yale Breslin).
Name: Derrick R. Cruz
Occupation: Artist / Designer
Company: Black Sheep & Prodigal Sons
Location: New York, NY (specifically Loisaida)
You are quite the busy guy. Tell us, what have you been up to recently?
I just finished my version of the New York Times "T" for the November 9th T Mag. Its based in part on my project A NEW HIVE. The way it turned out reminds me of the words "greed" and "decay". Really great project with a very tight deadline.
What inspires you?
Inspiration is a strange thing. It comes from everywhere. Open yourself to what surrounds you and what makes up who you are, and you'll end up with a whirlwind of thoughts and images like paper and dust twisting in a street corner. Periodically they settle - sometimes they look like trash still and sometimes they come together signaling to something really exciting. You just have to be there when it happens.
Tell us a little bit about the "A NEW HIVE" installation you recently presented at the Earnest Sewn store?
A NEW HIVE was inspired by my interest in honeybee folklore and the current epidemic bees are facing -- they call it Colony Collapse Disorder. Honeybees are essentially disappearing by the millions without a trace. They are the primary pollinators of flowering food crops. In fact, a third of all food we eat is made possible by pollinators such as the honeybee. That all got me out of my chair to do a bit of research and become acquainted with local beekeeping efforts. Later, I gathered a few of my artists friends and started discussing how we could convey the bleak and catastrophic prospect of a world without pollinators via art and design. What we ended up with was a "secret garden" of sorts where nature, myth and science seemed to finally strike a balance. A memorial to the last honeybee colony, you could say. A melancholy yet comforting place, if that makes sense. Currently, artist Ryder E. Robison and myself are working on the next permutation of the project. Not sure yet where it will take us, but I hope to continue creating awareness about this urgent issue.
What can we expect to see from your upcoming collection?
An exercise in extremes. Something poetically simple along side something complex and moralistic.
Do you have any upcoming collaborations in the works? If not, who would be your dream collaboration?
No collaborations right now. Hmmm, dream is a big word. I want to incorporate music into my work, but I cant pin down who'd be involved.
Most prized possession?
I'm looking around my studio and I can only think of one thing that would make me terribly upset if I never saw again. On my shelf sit a couple of 70's individual slide-viewer keychains (one orange one green) each with a picture of me my mother and father in them. I think they were from back-to-back visits to the circus. Dad looks like Vincent Gallo, mom's a knockout. Everything else is replaceable.
I never leave home without.....
My glasses. I forget everything, but I never forget I need to be able to see.
Tell us a little bit about your collaboration with THECAST. How did this come about?
It's funny because we barely knew each-other before this collaboration and now we are dear friends. They simply just called me one day and asked me to come down to the studio and chat about accessories to compliment their Spring 2008 collection. I drew some stuff up, chatted for a few hours next thing you know I'm sitting down in that basement drinking Bulleit and sculpting a rattlesnake head. Its was a no brainer, I've always been attracted to talented, scrappy folks with relentless aspirations.
In 2007, you won the GEN ART international design award for accessories. What advice has stuck with you when designing?
Its was certainly my introduction to the business. Before that I felt like all I knew was just me sitting in the studio whittling strange little things. To say the least GEN ART has been incredibly supportive.
What is the meaning behind "Black Sheep and Prodigal Sons"?
It's about being lost and found all at the same time.
Next up for Derrick Cruz?
Like I tell my intern, "the M.O. here is making stuff that gets that 'What is it?!' out of folks." I want to make more of that. I also want a vacation.