Robert Smith will forever be the frolicking ghoul that excused me to dance wildly while brooding.
I remember the calling drums and visceral chants of songs like “Hanging Garden” moving me to teen introspection. The Cure’s punk grit and mystical arabesques masterfully set the stage for Smith's desperate vocals to entrance me. Enveloped in flanging echoes I ritually pushed the volume dial to its limits till I heard the knock on the door.
But just when darkness seemed paramount and spiderman was free to have me for dinner, Smith showed some hope. With “Love Cats" mischief and wicked grins were automatic. I was free to accept my inner gloom as a tool and not an end in itself. Which encouraged my pimply-teen self to see that "sanctioned cool" was definitely not my path, and that flailing my hands around while tripping over myself was as worthy a form of self-expression as any.
Thanks, Mr. Smith. I owe you one.
My intent with this piece was to neatly idealize Smith while capturing his youthful Pornography-era days. All of the style details that The Cure fans so fervently sought to emulate (black button-ups, tight black jeans, contrast hi-tops) needed to be there. But perhaps most importantly, his playful spirit had to be caricaturized to make one message clear: doom and gloom had a secret smirk, and Robert Smith was the archetype.
As an artist and designer I sculpt, but human likenesses aren't my thing. So, in order to find the true "soul" of the project, I needed to collaborate with a sculptor that shared my affinity towards Smith. In between days gathering source material, sketching poses and researching the perfect sneakers, I remembered the work of John Truman Tan. John's uncanny ability for capturing a character's spirit made me an instant collector of his pieces a few years back. Not only does he sculpt amazing likenesses, but he has a rare sensibility for accurately representing minute garment and tailoring details. Then there's the great quirk: John likes likes to make bobble-heads. It was the perfect medium to represent Smith.
Without hesitation, I reached out to John, found out we shared a love for all things 80's, sent him my drawings, design ideas and research, and Unhappy the Man: Robert Smith was born.